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Education & Language - Professional & Vocational Education | Authentic Professional Learning - Making a Difference Through Learning at Work

Authentic Professional Learning

Making a Difference Through Learning at Work

Webster-Wright, Ann

2010, XVI, 260 p.

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  • Draws on practitioners’ voices, speaking from the heart of contemporary practice dilemmas
  • Integrates empirical research with philosophical insights to address questions of professional practice
  • Integrates research fields of workplace and organisational learning, adult and professional education
  • Includes realistic guidelines to support learning that draw on existing processes within an innovative framework
  • Has an interdisciplinary perspective with a particular focus on the caring professions
Meeting the challenges of an unpredictable global future will be hard enough for all sectors, but one thing is certain: ongoing learning by all of the professions is vital. This book applies cutting-edge educational theory to the concept of lifelong learning. It argues for a significant paradigm shift from the traditional practice of providing programs to develop professionals, towards enabling professionals’ capability for authentic inquiry into their own practices. In doing so, the text contributes much to the ongoing debate about how professionals can be supported in ways that nourish them as individuals as well as leading to worthwhile and sustainable outcomes for society as a whole. The book highlights a disparity between the reality of professionals’ learning experiences and the rhetoric commonly employed in relation to professional performance development. Empirical data reveal that professionals take their responsibilities to improve their practice seriously, but consider their continuing learning needs to be more profound than that provided by narrow professional development rhetoric. The didactic and episodic nature of many professional development activities does not adequately support the multifaceted and idiosyncratic nature of authentic professional learning, as lived by professionals in practice. In this volume, the common themes across diverse experiences of learning are defined within a phenomenological framework as understanding, engagement, interconnection and openness. Realistic guidelines to support learning, in ways that balance professional accountability and agency, are elucidated in the context of this framework. The book highlights contemporary workplace dilemmas for professionals, including those working in healthcare, who are anxious to make a difference to the lives of those they care for. Drawing on phenomenological philosophy, Ann Webster-Wright explores the issue of authenticity in professional life as well as the contribution that professionals can make to society. ‘This book is a pioneering example of the kind of studies that are needed to further understanding of professional practice and how it can be improved. It focuses on what practitioners can do to act together for themselves. It applies the notion of being professional to the core of practice: learning from what one does.’ David Boud ‘This book does more than merely challenge the traditional way of conceptualising professional development. It also offers bases for reshaping efforts to secure all ongoing professional learning in ways centred on the learners themselves.’ Stephen Billet

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Adult Education - authenticity - community-based education - continuing education - phenomenology - professional learning - work - workplace learning

Related subjects » Philosophical Traditions - Professional & Vocational Education

Table of contents 

PART A: INTRODUCTION. Prologue. 1. Professional Learning at Work. 1.1 Genesis of the Research. 1.2 Intent of the Book. 1.3 Research Findings. 1.4 Conceptualising Authentic Professional Learning. PART B: EXPLORATION. 2. Critical Review of Professional Development. 2.1 Interdisciplinary Inquiry into Professional Learning. 2.1.1 Professional education. 2.1.2 Workplace learning. 2.1.3 Adult education. 2.1.4 Integrating the research fields. 2.2 Current Working Context for Professional Learning. 2.2.1 Certainty through regulation and control. 2.2.2 Uncertainty related to change and complexity. 2.3 The Concept of Learning. 2.3.1 Learning theories. 2.3.2 The nature of professional learning. 2.3.2.1 Learning from experience. 2.3.2.2 Learning through reflective action. 2.3.2.3 Learning mediated by context. 2.3.3 The nature of professional knowledge. 2.3.3.1 Knowledge as a commodity. 2.3.3.2 Knowing-in-practice. 2.3.3.3 Embodied knowing. 2.4 Problematising Practice and Research. 3. Phenomenological Conceptual Framework. 3.1 Wondering About Phenomenology. 3.2 Phenomenology as a Conceptual Framework. 3.2.1 Phenomenological philosophy. 3.2.2 Phenomenological concepts. 3.2.2.1 Life-world. 3.2.2.2 Being-in-the-world. 3.2.2.3 Embodied knowing. 3.2.2.4 Construction of meaning. 3.2.2.5 Understanding. 3.2.3 Philosophical assumptions of this research. 3.3 Phenomenology as a Methodological Approach. 3.3.1 Principles of phenomenological research. 3.3.1.1 Phenomenological attitude. 3.3.1.2 Phenomenological essence. 3.3.2 Empirical phenomenology. 3.3.2.1 Phenomenology as a scientific method. 3.3.2.2 Phenomenology as evocation of lived experience. 3.3.2.3 Phenomenology as rigorous yet evocative. 3.4 Summary of Phenomenological Framework. 4. Empirical Phenomenological Methodology. 4.1 Reflexive Methodology. 4.2 Criteria of Quality in Research. 4.3 Research Design. 4.4 Rigour, Relevance and Reflexivity. 4.5 Engaging With the Participants. 4.6 Data Analysis. 4.6.1 Dwelling with the data. 4.6.2 Transformation of data. 4.6.3 Developing the structure. 4.7 Summary of Methodology. PART C: UNDERSTANDING. 5. Authentic Professional Learning. 5.1 Professional Life-World. 5.2 Situations Where Professionals Learn. 5.3 Structure of Authentic Professional Learning. 5.3.1 Overview of authentic professional learning. 5.3.2 Learning as change in professional understanding. 5.3.2.1 Change in professional understanding. 5.3.2.2 Learning transitions. 5.3.2.3 Varying types of transitions. 5.3.2.4 Gina: A whole new way of looking at everything. 5.3.3 Learning through engagement in professional practice. 5.3.3.1 Active engagement in professional practice. 5.3.3.2 Caring about practice. 5.3.3.3 Uncertainty in learning. 5.3.3.4 Revealing the novel. 5.3.3.5 Mary: Putting the pieces together. 5.3.4 Learning through interconnection over time. 5.3.4.1 Circuitous and iterative web. 5.3.4.2 Imagination draws together. 5.3.4.3 Dynamic interaction with others. 5.3.4.4 Olivia: How will I do it differently next time? 5.3.5 Learning as circumscribed openness to possibilities. 5.3.5.1 Openness to possibilities. 5.3.5.2 Opportunities and constraints of professional context. 5.3.5.3 Resolution of tensions. 5.3.5.4 Sam: The theory doesn’t match reality. 5.4 Summary of Authentic Professional Learning. 6. Making Meaning Through Professional Learning. 6.1 Learning as Part of Being a Professional. 6.2 Ways of Being a Professional. 6.2.1 Being Gina: Learning as an interesting journey. 6.2.2 Being Mary: Learning as problem solving. 6.2.3 Being Olivia: Learning as personal growth. 6.2.4 Being Sam: Learning as an challenging ideas. 6.3 Making Meaning as a Professional. PART D: INTEGRATION. 7. Rhetoric Versus Reality. 7.1 Dealing with Dissonance. 7.1.1 Credibility of the evidence about CPL. 7.1.2 Describing the dissonance. 7.2 Problematic Issues in CPL. 7.2.1 Questioning assumptions. 7.2.2 Engaging with uncertainty. 7.2.3 Imagining conversations. 7.2.4 Voicing what is valued. 7.3 Wider Context of Professional Dissonance. 7.3.1 Competing life-world discourses. 7.3.2 The hidden nature of dissonance. 8. Authenticity in Professional Life. 8.1 Ontological Claims. 8.1.1 What does "being a professional" mean? 8.1.2 Being-in-the-professional-world. 8.1.3 Ontological dimensions of learning. 8.2 Authenticity in Professional Life. 8.2.1 Mavericks and Impostors. 8.2.1.1 Sally: I’m never sure if what I’m learning is the truth. 8.2.1.2 Being an authentic professional. 8.2.2 The concept of authenticity. 8.2.2.1 Social construction of self. 8.2.2.2 Public professional world. 8.2.2.3 Being authentic. 8.3 Transformation Through Learning. 8.3.1 Change through learning experiences. 8.3.1.1 Nerida: Learning to do what a professional does. 8.3.1.2 Way of being a professional. 8.3.2 Transformative learning. 8.4 Implications of Ontological Claims. 9. Implications for stakeholders. 9.1 Principles of Authentic  Professional Learning. 9.1.1 Awareness as a resource. 9.1.2 Learning relationships. 9.1.3 Challenging support. 9.1.4 Learning culture. 9.2 Changing Support for Professional Learning. 9.2.1 Culture of inquiry. 9.2.2 Reflexive authenticity. 9.2.3 Cultural change. 9.3 Models of Support for Authentic Professional Learning. 9.3.1 Authentic professional learning support groups. 9.3.2 Existing models for supporting learning. 9.3.3 Existing resources for supporting learning. 9.4 Implications for Undergraduate Education. 9.4.1 Preparation for the realities of practice. 9.4.2 Learning to be a professional. PART E: CONCLUSION. 10. Making a Difference in Professional Learning. 10.1 Ontology and Epistemology in Learning. 10.2 Potential of Authentic Professional Learning. 10.3 Making a Difference in Supporting learning. 10.4 A Way Forward for Research on Learning. 10.5 Possibilities for Change. References. Appendices. A: Interview Questions. B: Data Analysis Examples. C: Summaries of Learning Situations Described by Participants.

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