Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Adult Education; Adult Learning; Education Work Relationship; Educational Environment; Educational Opportunities; Employment Practices; Foreign Countries; Learning Processes; Learning Theories; Lifelong Learning; Literature Reviews; Organizational Culture; Participation; Vocational Adjustment; Work Environment; Learning Organizations; Work Based Learning.

Boud, D., & Middleton, H. (2003). Learning from others at work: Communities of practice and informal learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(5), 194-202.


Interviews in four worksites with tiling teachers, educational planners, human resources officers, and off-campus trainers found that learning was strongly influenced by the nature of the work and workplace. However, only some of the learning networks fit the concept of communities of practice; other conceptualizations are needed to reflect the process accurately.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Informal Education; Learning Processes; Social Networks; Teamwork; Workplace Learning.

Brockman, J. L. (2004). Problem solving of machine operators within the context of everyday work: Learning through relationship and community. Dissertation Abstracts International, 65-04A, pp.1282.


Informal learning constitutes much of the learning that occurs within the workplace and occurs most often when an individuals job scope expands. Organizations are increasingly expecting their frontline employees to solve problems, creating a "new" space for learning to occur. Problem solving, provides the opportunity for creating experiences that lead to informal learning. But, problem solving represents one of the most neglected areas of research in the workplace, particularly within the context of manufacturing. Also, neglected in the literature from the standpoint of the workers themselves, the intersection between the gaining popularity of knowledge management and the increased expectation for frontline employees to solve operational problems on their own. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the informal learning associated with the problem solving process of machine operators within the context of their everyday work. Hence, the research question: What is the nature of the informal learning associated with the problem solving process of machine operators within the context of their everyday work? Using the critical incident technique, twenty machine operators from three manufacturing organizations were interviewed individually, with 8 of the twenty participating in a follow-up focus group session.

The findings show that first, learning is perceived by machine operators to be intimately bound up with problem solving. Second, the problem solving process is triggered by an incident which leaves them frustrated, confused and uncomfortable. The process of regaining equilibrium or certainty is inherently social in nature and is guided by personal strategies to achieve balance. Third, problem solving and learning are part of an ongoing process of becoming a machine operator, with three definable phases. Fourth, the consequences of the learning process results in several kinds of knowledge. The main conclusion of this study was that nature of informal learning of machine operators is shaped by the dialogic relationship between the worker, the task and the machine, within a broader community of practice.

This study has enhanced the understanding of the informal learning associated with the problem solving process of machine operators within the context of their everyday work. This enhancement of understanding has implications for both theory and practice. Recommendations for further research touch upon both methodology and theory.
KEY WORDS: Education; Industrial Education; Vocational Education; Sociology; Industrial and Labor Relations.

Clover, D. E., & Hall, B. L. (2000). In search of social movement learning: The growing jobs for living project. NALL Working Paper No. 18. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


The New Approaches to Lifelong Learning (NALL) project is a Canada-wide 5-year research initiative during which more than 70 academic and community members are working collaboratively within a framework of informal learning to address the following issues: informal computer-based learning, recognition of prior learning, informal learning in a variety of social locations, learning within marginalized or disadvantaged cultures, and learning about school-to-work transitions. The NALL project's primary objective is to identify major social barriers to integrating informal learning with formal/nonformal learning and certification and to support new program initiatives to overcome such barriers. The NALL project's focus is on the informal and nonformal learning practices of people involved with the Growing Jobs for Living Project (GJOBS) in the Quinte bioregion, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Canada. These learning practices are related to the principles and practices of environmental adult education, feminist adult education, and transformative learning. The global and ideational contexts of some of the major socio-environmental changes and problems that have affected the Quinte bioregion and been a catalyst for GJOBS were examined. The methods used to study the informal learning practices of GJOBS participants were reviewed. The major outcomes of the study were discussed from the standpoint of their relationship to the broader field of adult education.
KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Adult Learning; Certification; Computer Uses in Education; Definitions; Education Work Relationship; Educational Environment; Educational Trends; Environmental Education; Informal Education; Integrated Curriculum; Interpersonal Attraction; Learning Theories; Lifelong Learning; Minority Groups; National Surveys; Nonformal Education; Outcomes of Education; Postsecondary Education; Prior Learning; Research Methodology; Social Change; Transformative Learning; Transitional Programs; Womens Education; Marginalized Groups.

Coetzer, A. (2007). Employee perceptions of their workplaces as learning environments. Journal of Workplace Learning, 19(7), 417-434.


464 employees in 31 small manufacturing organizations were surveyed using questionnaires (self-completion) to illuminate the perceptions of employees of their workplaces as learning environments. The paper illustrates results for six demographic groups and looks at how variables, such as tenure, age, and education influence the perception of the workplace as a learning environment. Apart from the learning space, employees also perceive that coworkers and observation were also central to the workplace learning process. The study is limited by not including the perceptions of owner-managers, and their influence on the employee learning process.
KEY WORDS: Small Enterprises; Workplace Learning; Manufacturing Systems; New Zealand; Individual Behaviour; Employees.

Dawe, S. (2003). Determinants of successful training practices in large Australian firms. Leabrook: National Centre for Vocational Education Research.


The determinants of successful training practices in large Australian firms were examined. The study's three phases were as follows: (1) a review of existing literature; (2) a meta-analysis of previously conducted case studies of 49 large Australian firms in 14 industrial sectors; and (3) a comparative analysis of the findings of the past studies with those of 5 follow-up cases studies from 4 industries (wine production, tourism, electrical accessories manufacturing, and government). The following elements were identified as major contributors to successful training practices: (1) having an organizational culture that supports learning; (2) sourcing formal training within the organization itself; (3) adopting accredited training; (4) decentralizing training within the organization; (5) increasing the diversity of training and learning approaches; (6) responding to individuals' needs; (7) increasing the use of informal training; (8) responding to change within and external to the organization; (9) linking training to major features of a business strategy; and (10) obtaining feedback from workers, managers, trainers, customers, and other stakeholders. The follow-up case studies supported these elements and established that items 1, 8, and 9 are the most important.
KEY WORDS: Adjustment (to Environment); Adult Learning; Case Studies; Comparative Analysis; Competence; Competency Based Education; Contract Training; Corporate Education; Definitions; Education Work Relationship; Feedback; Followup Studies; Foreign Countries; Glossaries; Industrial Training; Informal Education; Inplant Programs; Instructional Design; Instructional Effectiveness; Job Skills; Literature Reviews; Nonformal Education; Organizational Culture; Performance Factors; Postsecondary Education; Strategic Planning; Success; Training Methods; Work Environment; Australia; Learning Organizations; National Training Packages (Australia); Training Effectiveness; Training Needs; Work Based Learning.

Devins, D., Smith, V., & Holden, R. (2001). Creating "learning" industrial estates: Addressing lifelong learning in small and medium enterprises. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 6(2), 205-221.


Establishment of learning centers in British industrial estates was evaluated through telephone and mail questionnaires, focus groups, and case studies. The objective of learning networks was not fully realized. Tensions between the needs and interests of employers, learning providers, and individual workers was found.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Educational Improvement; employer Employee Relationship; Foreign Countries; Lifelong Learning; Small Businesses; United Kingdom.

Ellis, K. (2003). Top training strategies: New twists on familiar ideas. Training, 40(7), 30-34,36.


Provides examples of how companies are using the following strategies in innovative ways: knowledge sharing using knowledge-management portals, informal learning, real-time learning, competency-based learning linked to business strategies, calculation of the return on investment in learning, and academic-corporate partnerships.
KEY WORDS: Competency Based Education; Corporate Education; Educational Strategies; Informal Education; Partnerships in Education; Training.

Elsey, B., & Sirichoti, K. (2002). The learning facilitation role of agricultural extension workers in the adoption of integrated pest management by tropical fruit growers in Thailand. Studies in Continuing Education, 24(2), 167-180.


A sample of 120 Thai fruit growers reported that agricultural extension workers were influential in their adoption of integrated pest management, which balances cultural tradition and progressive practice. Extension workers used discussion and reflection on practical experience, a participatory and collaborative approach to the adoption of innovations.
KEY WORDS: Adoption (Ideas); Adult Education; Change Agents; Educational Strategies; Extension Agents; Foreign Countries; Innovation; Nonformal Education; Pests; Thailand.

Enos, M. D., Kehrhahn, M. T., & Bell, A. (2003). Informal learning and the transfer of learning: How managers develop proficiency. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 14(4), 369-387.


This paper examined how the extent to which managers engaged in informal learning, perceptions of support in the transfer environment, and level of managerial proficiency related to transfer of learning in twenty core managerial skills. The results suggested that informal learning is predominantly a social process and that managers with high levels of proficiency who experience low levels of coworker, supervisor, and organizational support learn managerial skills mostly from informal learning and transfer learning more frequently. New perspectives are offered on the interrelationship between informal learning and transfer of learning, the role of metacognition and self-regulation in informal learning, and the influence of informal learning in the development of managerial proficiency.
KEY WORDS: Informal Learning; Support Perceptions; Learning Transfer; Core Managerial Skills; Managerial Proficiency; Organizational Support; Social Process.
Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal learning and tacit knowledge in professional work. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70(1), 113-136.
The paper discusses professional education and learning in the workplace and the conceptual and methodological problems that have occurred from its empirical investigations. The author discusses nonformal learning and tacit knowledge, the importance of tacit knowledge for professional work and the issues affecting the use of different approaches of cognition in professional work, and the respective roles of individual and social work.
KEY WORDS: Theory of Knowledge; Nonformal Education; Learning; Psychology of/Cooperative Learning; Professional Education; Employees/Training; Work and Learning.

Figgis, J., Alderson, A., Blackwell, A., Butorac, A., Mitchell, K., & Zubrick, A. (2001). What convinces enterprises to value training and learning and what does not? A study in using case studies to develop cultures of training and learning. Melbourne: Australian National Training Authority.


The authors examined the feasibility of using case studies to convince enterprises to value training and learning. First, ten Australian enterprises were studied in sufficient depth to construct a comprehensive picture of each enterprise, its culture, and the strategies it uses to develop the skills and knowledge of individual employees and the organization as a whole. Next, the case study findings were presented to ten different enterprises. Those enterprises were asked to identify what in the materials convinced them that rethinking their own approaches to training and learning might prove profitable. Most enterprises considered informal strategies for skill development more important and effective than has been acknowledged by Australia's vocational education and training sector. The enterprises also liked the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of informal strategies. The following were among the key findings: (1) real and detailed examples should be used when attempting to convince enterprises to rethink their approach to training and learning; (2) although enterprises are concerned with calculating returns on investment in training and learning, they do not necessarily need to see the impact directly in dollars in their bottom line; and (3) personal interaction is the most effective channel of communication with enterprises.
KEY WORDS: Attitude Change; Case Studies; Change Strategies; Cost Effectiveness; Definitions; Educational Attitudes; Educational Research; Employer Attitudes; Feasibility Studies; Foreign Countries; Guidelines; Informal Education; Job Training; Learning Processes; Marketing; Models; Organizational Change; Organizational Climate; Postsecondary Education; Research Methodology; Research Utilization; Role of Education; School Business Relationship; Secondary Education; Training Methods; Training Objectives; Vocational Education; Australia; Educational Marketing; Learning Organizations.

Foley, G. (1999). Learning in social action: A contribution to understanding informal education. Global perspectives on adult education and training. New York: St. Martin's Press.


This book argues the importance of the incidental learning that can occur when people become involved in voluntary organizations, social struggles, and political activity. Chapter 1 introduces the case studies of informal learning in social struggle used to develop the argument and outlines the theoretical framework within which the case studies are located. Chapter 2 argues that unlearning dominant discourses and learning resistant discourses are central to emancipatory learning, and applies theoretical insights on ideology and discourse to three case studies of women's learning in community and workplace struggles in the United States. Chapter 3 examines a successful campaign to preserve a rainforest in eastern Australia and the learning that occurred. Chapter 4 looks at the dynamics of community-based adult learning by examining informal learning in two neighborhood centers in an Australian city. Chapter 5 examines education and learning in the current process of global economic restructuring, and how and what workers learn as they negotiate workplace change. Chapter 6 examines the learning dimension of women's movements in Brazil from 1964-89. Chapter 7 examines whether political education and learning in the Zimbabwe national struggle promoted democracy and socialism, or whether the country was too weak. Chapter 8 discusses application of the analysis developed, reviews and relates the theoretical framework to a broader body of adult education theory, and suggests further research on the relationship of emancipatory struggle and learning. The book contains 257 references and an index.
KEY WORDS: Social Action; Adult Education; Experiential Learning; Informal Education; Teaching Methods.

Frazis, H., Joyce, M., & Gittleman, M. (2000). Correlates of training: An analysis using both employer and employee characteristics. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 53(3), 443-462.


Training incidence and intensity was analyzed using employer and employee data from the 1995 Survey of Employer-Provided Training. Education was positively related to receipt and intensity of training. Companies with generous fringe benefits and innovative work practices also provided more formal and informal training.
KEY WORDS: Employer Employee Relationship; Fringe Benefits; Innovation; Training; Training Allowances.

Fuller, A., Unwin, L., Felstead, A., Jewson, N., & Kakavelakis, K. (2007). Creating and using knowledge: An analysis of the differentiated nature of workplace learning environments. British Educational Research Journal, 33(5), 743-759.

Workplaces create many forms of knowledge creation and use and these different forms can benefit both the organization, and the employees. Some workplace knowledge is hidden by daily activity and studying the manner in which knowledge is created and managed within the learning environment itself can illustrate how employees can encourage learning at work. How an organization coordinates work, including physical and virtual spheres, can identify the creation of new or refined knowledge. The paper suggests that all levels and employees of an organization engage in learning activities, and the creation of knowledge in the workplace.
KEY WORDS: Knowledge Creation; Workplace Learning; Learning Environments.

Garcia, B. C. (2007). Working and learning in a knowledge city: A multilevel development framework for knowledge workers. Journal of Knowledge Management, 11(5), 18-30.


In the city of Manchester, skill development strategies for e-learning in the workplace were studied for four years. Knowledge engines such as universities were used as sites where the demand for knowledge-based tools were observed. Qualitative data was linked to Carrillo's generic system of capital's framework as a means of identifying the various aspects and drivers for learning environments. Such sites of learning are linked to the greater knowledge city through social networks and learning systems.
KEY WORDS: Knowledge Management; Knowledge Organizations; E-learning.

Gopee, N. (2002). Human and social capital as facilitators of lifelong learning in nursing. Nurse Education Today, 22(8), 608-616.


Interviews and focus groups with 27 nurses revealed the influence of health care professionals and nonprofessional acquaintances on participation in lifelong learning. Substantial informal learning occurs through work-based contexts, supported by other significant individuals. These factors constitute human and social capital, a significant enabler of professional learning.
KEY WORDS: Human Capital; Influences; Informal Education; Lifelong Learning; Nurses; Professional Development; Social Capital.

Guile, D., & Griffiths, T. (2001). Learning through work experience. Journal of Education and Work, 14(1), 113-131.


Analyzes how students learn and develop through work experience. Presents a typology of work experience that identifies five models: traditional, experiential, generic, work process, and connective. Suggests that connectivity may provide the basis for a productive and useful relationship between formal and informal learning.
KEY WORDS: Education Work Relationship; Individual Development; Informal Education; Learning Theories; Models; Secondary Education; Social Environment; Work Environment; Work Experience Programs.

Haf, R. (2001). L'apprentissage informel au chic resto pop. NALL Working Paper No. 32. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


Partant de l'idée que l'apprentissage informel est un processus qui participe activement à l'acquisition de connaissances et de compétences professionnelles, nous avons voulu comprendre comment cela s'appliquait dans le cadre d'un organisme d'insertion, en l'occurrence au Chic Resto Pop. D'emblée, il apparaît que ce processus est au coeur des activités et des relations de travail, de même qu'il est partie intégrante de l'évolution organisationnelle. Pour les travailleurs en formation, cet apprentissage présente des avantages qui le rend plus «attrayant» qu'une formation formelle, mais il se caractérise aussi par des faiblesses quant à la qualité normative des résultats. D'ailleurs, les critiques émises sur la formation professionnelle ont tendance à prendre le pas sur les acquis relevés au plan de l'insertion sociale. Si bien que le Resto a entamé une révision de la formation qui, jusqu'à présent, n'est pas encore clairement définie. Cependant, cette volonté de formaliser l'apprentissage professionnel ne pourra certainement pas combler la place qu'occupe l'apprentissage informel dans ses différentes dimensions. En somme, est-il possible de conserver une pédagogie informelle, tout en donnant un contenu plus formel dans la formation des travailleurs? Et finalement, quel apprentissage cette organisation en tirera-t-elle?

Henderson, M. E. (2003). Career women: Managing learning and overcoming obstacles through lifelong learning concepts. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.


This qualitative study focused primarily on career women, managing learning, and the application of lifelong learning concepts. The main purpose of the study was to discover how lifelong learning concepts may have been instrumental in influencing the vision, attitude, and goals of the 20 career women included in this inquiry (two women were interviewed in person, while 18 women completed a survey). Further, learner-managed learning, motivational theories, and reading reviews have been included in the study to establish a framework from which to identify the lifelong learner. This study identified the importance of promoting lifelong learning in society.
KEY WORDS: Career Development; Females; Interviews; Learner Controlled Instruction; Learning Motivation; Lifelong Learning; Qualitative Research; Surveys; Social Learning Theory.

Hicks, E., Bagg, R., Doyle, W., & Young, J. D. (2007). Canadian accountants: Examining workplace learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 19(2), 61-77.


Volunteer accountants from three professional levels, trainees, managers, and partners, completed various surveys, the results of which were used to identify the different workplace strategies, learning facilitators, and barriers that exist. The paper illustrates that Canadian accountants use a mixture of both formal and informal learning strategies, however informal learning dominates, with use of e-learning strongest at the trainee level.
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