Workplace Pedagogic Practices: Co-Participation and Learning

British Journal of Educational Studies 50 (4):457 - 481 (2002)
This paper advances tentative bases for understanding workplace pedagogic practices. It draws on a series of studies examining learning through everyday work activities and guided learning in the workplace. These studies identified the contributions and limitations of these learning experiences. However, whether referring to the activities and interactions arising through work or intentional guided learning, the quality and likely contributions of these learning experiences are underpinned by workplace participatory practices. These practices comprise the reciprocal process of how workplaces afford participation and how individuals elect to engage with the work practice, termed co-participation. Workplace experiences are not informal. They are a product of the historical-cultural practices and situational factors that constitute the particular work practice, which in turn distributes opportunities for participation to individuals or cohorts of individuals. That is, they shape the conduct of work and learning through these practices. However, how individuals construe what is afforded by the workplace shapes how they elect to engage in that practice and learn. There is no separation between engaging in conscious thought - such as when participating in socially derived activities and interactions - and learning. Learning is conceptualised as an inter-psychological process of participation in social practices such as workplaces. It is not reserved for activities and interactions intentionally organised for learning (e.g. those in educational institutions). Nevertheless, particular kinds of activities are likely to have particular learning consequences, regardless of whether they occur in the workplace or in educational institutions. The significance of co-participation is discussed in terms of the affordance of the workplace and individuals' construction of that affordance and subsequent engagement. Co-participation is proposed as a platform to build an understanding of workplace pedagogic practices. This includes understanding the likely contributions of learning through everyday work activities and the use of intentional workplace learning strategies, such as guided workplace learning (e.g. modelling, coaching, questioning, etc.). Instances of co-participatory practices are illustrated and discussed. Following this, a tentative scheme, founded in socio-historical activity theory, is advanced as a means for describing the requirements for work and bases for participation. The scheme comprises two dimensions: activities and interdependencies.
Keywords aims of education  the market  personal well–being
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