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Professor Michael Eraut

Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 7 years, 7 months ago

The Balance between Communities and Personal Agency:

Transferring and integrating knowledge and know-how between different communities and contexts

Professor Michael Eraut, University of Sussex

 

Most undergraduates are members of several communities: their family, their friends, their university, workplaces where they earn money, and other types of social groups. These all involve engagement with other people; and that engagement plays a central role in their informal learning, whether or not they are engaged in formal learning. Good relationships with other people are known to enhance such learning within the appropriate domain. However, transfer of learning from one context to another cannot be taken for granted. Such transfer is often more challenging than most people expect, because learners have both to recognise its relevance and to see how it might be used in a different context. The presentation will show how most people learn different things in different ways; but further learning is needed to merge different types of knowledge into holistic performances. While most undergraduates want to get a good degree through learning formal knowledge, they are also concerned to find career jobs with prospects that require other, more interpersonal, knowledge; and many of them are also looking for a new balance between their participation in families, friends and communities. This participation involves access to communities, an ability to engage with those they meet and a growing ability to contribute to their goals. In a period of rapid change, the concept of competence-based goals as indicators of a person’s workplace capability is far too restrictive. Lifelong learning requires the use of lifelong learning trajectories, which can offer more freedom to be holistic, attend to the emotional dimension of work, and appreciate the significance of complexity. Life-wide learning contributes to the holistic development of a person and offers the potential for individuals to develop along some of their learning trajectories through different experiences simultaneously.

 

PAPER

 

PRESENTATION SLIDES

 

PODCAST

 

 

 

Summary  

Most undergraduates are members of several communities: their family, their friends, their university, workplaces where they earn money, and other types of social groups. These all involve engagement with other people; and that engagement plays a central role in their informal learning, whether or not they are engaged in formal learning. Good relationships with other people are known to enhance such learning within the appropriate domain. However, transfer of learning from one context to another cannot be taken for granted. Such transfer is often more challenging than most people expect, because learners have both to recognise its relevance and to see how it might be used in a different context. The presentation will show how most people learn different things in different ways; but further learning is needed to merge different types of knowledge into holistic performances. While most undergraduates want to get a good degree through learning formal knowledge, they are also concerned to find career jobs with prospects that require other, more interpersonal, knowledge; and many of them are also looking for a new balance between their participation in families, friends and communities. This participation involves access to communities, an ability to engage with those they meet and a growing ability to contribute to their goals.

 

The presentation also argues that, in a period of rapid change, the concept of competence-based goals as indicators of a person’s workplace capability is far too restrictive. Lifelong learning requires the use of lifelong learning trajectories, which can offer more freedom to be holistic, attend to the emotional dimension of work, and appreciate the significance of complexity. Life-wide learning contributes to the holistic development of a person and offers the potential for individuals to develop along some of their learning trajectories through different experiences simultaneously.

 

Good feedback needs to go beyond these simple indicators to respond to a person’s overall contribution to their working group and their community; and appraisals need to discuss future possibilities as much as past performance. What are the possible relationships between people and their communities, and how do newcomers find out what works best for them? Who is responsible for helping whom? Who actually helps them? How do people find ways to develop their own agency within communities? Data from working contexts will be discussed through both stories and questionnaires; but the overall context will be focussed on the issue of transferring knowledge and know-how between different communities.

 

Key words: Transfer, integration, life-wide learning, learning trajectories, rich concepts of knowledge

 

Biography

Michael is Emeritus Professor of Education at the Sussex Institute of the University of Sussex. He is a world expert and theUK’s leading researcher into how professionals learn in work place settings. His pioneering research has found that most learning occurs informally during normal working processes and that there is considerable scope for recognising and enhancing such learning. His books include the highly acclaimed Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence. In 2007 he completed an ESRC-funded five year study of how professionals learn in the early part of their careers and Michael is working with SCEPTrE to help transfer and adapt some of this research knowledge to the professional work placement context in order to improve students’ experiences. But in this conference we are inviting him to look to the life-wide dimension of learning and to see what can we learn about the process of transferring and integrating knowledge and insights gained in one context to another.

 

SCEPTrE Life Achievement Award 2009

Michael received our Life Achievement Award in recognition of the enormous contribution he has made to our understanding of learning in professional work environments and for his willingness to try to improve higher education students’ experiences by applying his knowledge to the placements.

 

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