Exploring notions of transacting personal practice and work learnng
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The sociocultural perspective advances learning in and through work as the process and product of workers’ situated participation in practice. Such participation is always active, by varying degrees of intentionality and directionality that represent levels or kinds of workers’ engagement in the activities and events that characterise their practice. Further, the nature of engagement in work practice is transformation: nothing is static, nothing remains the same. At its simplest, workers are always in the constant transformational state of doing something. The something they are doing is always visible in some form or other as occupational practice that is historically founded, collectively defined and socially produced albeit through the personal and often idiosyncratic enactment of that practice. This paper focusses on the transformational nature of ‘doing’ work and its description and explanation as learning. Drawing on concepts of agency and Dewey’s ideas of transaction the paper explores and discusses ways of making the transformational qualities of workers’ personal work practices more visible as improved awareness of how change is enacted as learning through work and what changes are emergent as evidence of workers’ learning. These discussions draw on data and findings from a research project that examined the personal work practices of twelve workers. This ethnographic research comprised extensive semi-structured interviews and observation sessions with each of twelve workers over an 18 month data collection period. The research focused on workers’ self-description and explanation of the particular ways they went about their work, the purposes and outcomes accomplished through their personal practice and the kinds of personal and situational changes they accounted as evidence of their learning. Data samples from the interview transcripts of one of the three fire fighters who participated in the research, are used to illustrate the complex integration of personal and contextual factors that accomplish the transformations of person, place and practice that are the evidence of learning in and through work.
RWL8 - 8th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning
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