Workbased Learning Through a Trellis of Practices that Support Learning

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Work-based learning is increasingly being recognised as crucial for the 21st Century workforce. It is in the workplace that novices learn the practices that they undertake to do their job. This paper reports on a two-year longitudinal PhD study of the learning of nine novice vocational education and training teachers. These teachers had not had prior experience of teaching, and had no educational qualifications related to teaching. Their experience was that of ‘yesterday a (for instance) hairdresser, today a hairdressing teacher’. The research explored how these teachers learnt to become teachers. Much of their learning took place as a result of undertaking the practices required to fulfill their role as a teacher.The practice turn in contemporary theory has been identified by Shatzki (2001) in a book of the same name. Other theorists have also identified this increased focus on practice as the basis for investigating social life, including Kemmis (2009), Gherardi (2009), and Nicolini (2012). In this paper, the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis, Wilkinson, et al. 2014) is used to explore the arrangements that enabled and constrained teacher learning. The theory of practice architectures posits that cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements form the practice architectures that prefigure the practices that are undertaken at a site. Cultural-discursive arrangements enable and constrain what is said and thought about in and in relation to a site. These arrangements prefigure the sayings. The material-economic arrangements include physical arrangements as well as a broad understanding of the economic arrangements in, or brought into, a site. Material-economic arrangements prefigure (together with cultural-discursive and social-political arrangements) what is done in a site; the doings. Social-political arrangements are arrangements of solidarity and power that prefigure the relationships that take place in a site; the relatings (Kemmis, Wilkinson et al. 2014). While each of these arrangements can be considered individually for the purpose of analysis, in each site the cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements are enmeshed and create the practice architectures that prefigure the practices that are undertaken in that site.The research found that when practices that support learning (PSLs) were interconnected to form a trellis of PSLs, worker learning was better supported than when PSLs were isolated and did not interconnect with each other. Using brief case studies, this paper illustrates the PSLs that made up the trellis’ that supported the learning of some of these teachers.ReferencesGherardi, S. (2009). Introduction: The critical power of the practice lens. Management Learning, 40(2), 115-118. Kemmis, S. (2009). Understanding professional practice: A synoptic framework. In B. Green (Ed.), Understanding and Researching Professional Practice. Rotterdam: Sense.Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Grootenboer, P., Hardy, I., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. New York: Springer.Nicolini, D. (2012). Practice theory, work, and organisation: An introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Schatzki, T. (2001). Introduction. In T. Schatzki, K. Knorr-Cetina, & E. Savigny (Eds.),The practice turn in contemporary theory. Florence, USA: Routledge.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event3rd International ProPEL Conference - Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
Duration: 14 Jun 201716 Jun 2017 (Call for abstracts) (Conference abstracts)


Conference3rd International ProPEL Conference
Abbreviated titleProfessional practice, learning and education: social and material entanglements
OtherThe 3rd ProPEL International Conference will be held June 14-16, 2017. The conference will be hosted by Linköping University, Sweden, and organised in collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Both institutions are members of the ProPEL International Research Network, based at the School of Education, University of Stirling. The ProPEL Network promotes leading edge research and knowledge exchange in issues of professional and vocational learning, practice and education.

The conference welcomes research that applies contemporary practice oriented, sociomaterial theories and innovative research methodologies. The aim is to critically explore the emergent nature of professions, professional practice and knowing, and systems of professional education. For 2017 we particularly encourage papers that explore the role of and relations between professional education and work in meeting contemporary challenges in professional practice.
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