Learning in the Absence of Direct Supervision: Person-Dependent Scaffolding

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Journal Article
Vocations and Learning, 2017, 10 (3), pp. 365 - 382
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© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Contemporary accounts of learning emphasise the importance of immediate social partners such as teachers and co-workers. Yet, much of our learning for work occurs without such experts. This paper provides an understanding of how and why new home care workers use scaffolding to learn and enact safe manual handling techniques in their workplaces, and suggests how their learning may be supported in the absence of direct supervision. A qualitative approach was adopted for this inquiry, in which newly recruited workers were directly observed and interviewed in their workplaces following classroom training. When learning without direct supervision, these workers were found to use the scaffolding in person-dependent ways. They constructed, engaged with, and subsequently dismantled their scaffolding as personally required, rather than relying on their teacher to decide how and when these forms of learning support should be used and withdrawn. Consequently, a range of scaffolds should be provided in the workplaces of these individuals, without rigid stipulations about how and when they are to be accessed. That is, the learners themselves should be encouraged to decide on the type and frequency of their interaction with the scaffolding provided, and to access or withdraw this support as required.
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