Reply to Christine Wilson’s post (Paloniemi’s article)


FORUM: Current development and discourses on work and learning

TOPICS: S. PALONIEMI, SKILL FORMATION, Phenomenography, tacit knowledge, workplace learning, intuition, motivation

Reply to Christine Wilson’s post (link to Itslearning)

Hi Christine,

I believe the number of participants was 43, but that doesn’t make a big difference, I think. (-:  The findings of Paloniemi’s phenomenographic research confirm once again that learning is a social experience, and that workers “valued work experience as the main source of their competence.” (p. 444)

However, employees also say that “The accumulation of experience [alone] does not necessarily add to or develop job-competence.” (p.446) Paloniemi recognize that it’d be naïf to “assume that all experience has positive effects on competence construction.” (p.448)

The article views learning from a constructivist perspective that reminds of von Glaserfeld’s ideas, and I think that by recognizing the collective dimension of learning it’s also anchored in the situated learning theory of communities of practice. (p.440)

The theme of collective learning is a common one, which I consistently encountered in many of the articles. For example, Smith cites Stacey: “Social conversation provides the learner with a context and stimulus for thought construction and learning; thus the group contributes to learners’ understanding beyond what they could achieve individually.” (in Smith’s article, p.76).

In Paloniemi’s article, I find particularly interesting what she says about the concept of work experience, which plays an important role in the acquisition of:

  • Practical skills and knowledge required in specific occupations and job-tasks.
  • Knowledge related to the work community and organisation.
  • Knowledge that helps one to assess one’s own work and ways of working and acting. (p.444)

In his article, Smith also makes a similar argument when citing a quote by von Glaserfeld that supports the importance of experience in constructivist terms: “The constructivists hold that learners construct knowledge from the circumstances in which they experience that knowledge (von Glasersfeld, 1987).” (in Smith’s, p.56)

Furthermore, according to Paloniemi, the development of experience becomes the basis of professional identity formation. She recognizes how experience holds together an employee’s learning path by weaving past knowledge into current processes of workplace learning. This overarching use of experience benefits the employees in their construction of both explicit and tacit competences. Paloniemi also says that in such a devised learning process, intuition and learning motivation are valuable ingredients both in the construction and as outcome of experience.

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