Judgements as a basis for informal workplace learning - preliminary research findings

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of 4th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning RWL4 2005, 2005, pp. 1 - 10
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Informal learning can be broadly characterised as learning found in everyday opportunities where learners interact with the world around them. It can be distinguished from formal learning where the purpose, structure and content for learning are imposed on the learner. When informal learning occurs in the context of work or organised settings, factors such as performance, practice, sociocultural dynamics and situational context influence its nature and quality. Previous research by Beckett, Hager and Halliday (Beckett, 1996; Beckett & Hager, 2000, 2002; Hager, 2001; Halliday & Hager, 2002) asserts that productive informal learning is better characterised as a growing capacity to make contextual-sensitive judgements - a discretionary and discriminating process that involves holistic and embodied knowing. Our paper reports on progress in an Australian Research Council funded Discovery project designed to test this judgement-as-learning approach. Detailed case studies of critical incidents in a range of workplaces are being constructed and the learning or otherwise by key players involved in these incidents is being elucidated and analysed. This empirical investigation provides a means of analysing significant workplace events in order to develop a model of informal learning and an associated theory of practice. The paper outlines the overall project rationale and discusses findings from one initial case study. Additional findings from other case studies developed after submission of this paper, will be presented and discussed at the conference.
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