Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Workplace Learning; Learning Methods; Accountants; Canada.

Hu, Y. M., Kazuo. (2005). Schooling, working experiences, and human capital formation. Economics Bulletin, 15(3), 1-8.


Human capital is a composite of 2 types of knowledge and skills: one is accumulated by formal education in schools and the other is accumulated through working experiences in production activities. Introducing the concept of human capital into the standard Lucas-Uzawa model of endogenous growth, we show that a higher rate of long-run growth is not necessarily associated with a higher level of education attainment.
KEY WORDS: Analysis of Education; Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity; Formal Training Programs; On-the-Job Training; Growth Models; Education; Growth; Human Capital; Schooling; Skill Development.

Kilpatrick, S., & Falk, I. (2001). Benefits for all: How learning in agriculture can build social capital in island communities. Tasmania: Centre for Research and Learning in Regional Australia.


Social capital helps communities respond positively to change. Research into managing change through learning in communities and in small businesses, particularly farm businesses, has highlighted the importance of relationships between people and the formal and informal structure of communities to the quality of outcomes experienced by communities. Communities can be geographic communities or communities-of-common-purpose, such as agricultural commodity organizations or discussion groups. This paper reviews research into managing change through learning and social capital, presents a model of the simultaneous building and use of social capital, and explores the ways in which learning as part of an agricultural community can be used to bring benefits to isolated geographic communities. The model presented stems from studies in Tasmania (Australia) of the informal learning process that builds resilient communities. The two-stage model conceptualizes the way in which social capital is used and built in interactions among individuals. The first stage depicts social capital at the micro level of one-on-one interactions, focusing on knowledge resources and identity resources (identification with and commitment to the community). The second stage of the model outlines the interrelationship of micro-level social capital processes with community-level and societal-level social capital resources.
KEY WORDS: Access to Information; Community Change; Community Development; Community Resources; Experiential Learning; Farmers; Foreign Countries; Human Resources; Informal Education; Interpersonal Relationship; Models; Organizations (Groups); Rural Areas; Rural Development; Social Capital; Social Networks; Australia.

Laiken, M. (2001). From informal to organizational learning in the post-industrial workplacer. NALL Working Paper No. 29. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


In the light of current examples of re-engineering, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, some Canadian organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors provide a environment for individuals and teams to negotiate effectively the kind of organizational change which has become endemic in today’s workplace. A focus on informal learning through basic social processes contributes to employees’ collective ability to move beyond simply coping with stress to engaging in creative action. A three-year research project, conducted between 1998 and 2001, located and studied, in-depth, four such organizations which were using organizational learning approaches to embed continuous learning within the actual work processes. While each of the cases presents a unique context, they together provide valuable thematic lessons in how to create working environments which contribute both to individual health and to organizational sustainability (Author's abstract).
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Adult Learning; Conflict Resolution; Corporate Education; Educational Environment; Informal Education; Labor Force Development; Lifelong Learning; On the Job Training; Organizational Climate; Organizational Development; Participative Decision Making; Skill Development; Team Training; Learning Organizations.

Lans, T., Wesselink, R., Biemans, H. J. A., & Mulder, M. (2004). Work-related lifelong learning for entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector. International Journal of Training and Development, 8(1), 73-89.


This article presents a study on work-related lifelong learning for entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector. Accordingly, learning needs, learning preferences, learning motivation and conditions in the context of lifelong learning were identified. The results indicate that technology, IT and entrepreneurial competencies will become of increasing importance in the future. Non-formal and informal learning seem to play an especially important role in the competence development of entrepreneurs. Supporting learning in a personal way is a critical factor in stimulating lifelong learning. The results might provide some important starting points for the support of lifelong learning in practice. Investment in new, different, long-term work-related learning arrangements than have been undertaken hitherto is a high priority. Workplace learning for entrepreneurs in the context of lifelong learning should take place in settings where (new) knowledge is constructed in dialogue with the entrepreneurs' environment and where personal competence development is facilitated by experts in learning.
KEY WORDS: Workplace Learning; Lifelong Learning; Entrepreneurs; Agri-Food Sector; Learning Needs; Learning Preferences; Learning Motivation; Learning Conditions; Entrepreneurs Competence.

Lantz, A., & Friedrich, P. (2003). Learning in the workplace--An instrument for competence assessment. Learning Organization, 10(3), 185-194.


A competence assessment instrument that measures cognitive complexity used structured interviews to investigate means-goal relationships in different work activities. Validity and reliability were confirmed by two tests of interrater reliability and six tests of validity.
KEY WORDS: Competence; Interrater Reliability; Interviews; Lifelong Learning; Measures (Individuals); Test Reliability; Test Validity.

Macneil, C. (2001). The supervisor as a facilitator of informal learning in work teams. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(6), 246-253.


Supervisors who are effective facilitators use their own learning and interpersonal skills to encourage informal learning in work teams. Use of facilitation skills can be inhibited by lack of organizational support and reluctance to change power relationships.
KEY WORDS: Educational Environment; Informal Education; Interpersonal Competence; Supervisor Supervisee Relationship; Supervisors; Teamwork; Facilitators.

Mau, D. C. (2002). Survivors of downsizing: Informal learning of older adults who remain in the workplace after their organization experiences a downsizing. Unpublished Dissertation (Doctor of Education), Teachers College, Columbia University.


This dissertation is a qualitative study of the informal learning experienced by older adults who retain their jobs after a downsizing in their organizations. The problem which prompted the study is that companies are struggling with the negative effects of downsizing and the need to create and retain a competent, motivated workforce from their surviving employees. The study addresses the question of how older survivors learn to adjust to a new psychological employment contract which doesn't recognize loyalty or engender trust between companies and their employees.

This research explored the experience of middle managers in two global companies which have experienced numerous downsizing initiatives. It sought to answer: (1) how survivors perceived the reasons for downsizing, (2) how they describe their behavior and attitudes related to downsizing, (3) what learning strategies they use and how they learn informally after a downsizing, and (4) how their company facilitated or impeded their ability to maintain productivity levels.

Data gathering methods included surveys, semi-structured interviews with subjects, and a follow-up web-based questionnaire. Responses were compared to literature on survivor syndrome and reactions to change in the workplace. Findings from this research illustrate both the resiliency and fragility of downsizing survivors. Over time they have learned much about themselves, their careers, and their companies. Four descriptive categories of survivors emerged from this study. These were identified as "Bailing Out," "Hanging On," "Cautiously Committed," and "Strongly Committed." Each describes the subjects' cognitive and emotional reactions to their experiences with downsizing. Though they express it in different ways, the subjects in this study demonstrated informal learning as a necessary outcome of surviving downsizings. This learning could be captured and shared with both young and older workers in order to develop the resilience needed in a workplace dominated by downsizing and change. Companies also need to recognize the value of survivor learning as a necessary component for a healthy and productive organization.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Continuing Education; Occupational Psychology; Management; Middle Management; Organizational Learning; Downsizing; Older Workers; Studies.

Mitchell, L., & Livingstone, D. W. (2002). All on your own time: Informal learning practices of bank branch workers. NALL Working Paper No. 64. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


The informal learning practices of bank branch workers were examined in a study of a major Canadian bank. The study included ethnographic fieldwork and secondary analysis of a national survey of branch workers' learning practices during the introduction of a new financial services software system. Activity theory was used to examine workers' informal learning practices as situated and to trace the shift learning at the bank branch during the 1990s from a process based on a largely informal training approach to an increasingly formalized self-study approach. The study established that the bank branch workers continued to rely heavily on collective and individual informal learning practices to perform their day-to-day work, adjust to the introduction of new processes and technologies, and cope with stress even though the restructuring of work processes and learning that had occurred within the bank left the workers with diminishing time for study and learning. The study resulted in nine recommendations, including the following: (1) allocate at least 1 hour of on-the-job time per week for collective and individual learning; (2) create a learning environment within the bank's branches; (3) recognize, build on, and provide compensation for workers' informal learning activities; and (4) consult regularly and systematically with branch staff to identify learning and support needs. (Contains 46 references.) (MN)
KEY WORDS: Adjustment (to Environment); Adult Education; Banking; Data Analysis; Education Work Relationship; Educational Environment; Employment Practices; Field Studies; Foreign Countries; Independent Study; Informal Education; Labor Force Development; Learning Processes; National Surveys; Office Automation; Organizational Change; Organizational Culture; Organizational Development; Technological Advancement; Work Environment; Bank Tellers; Canada; Learning Organizations.

Quarter, J., & Midha, H. (2001). Informal learning processes in a worker co-operative. NALL Working Paper No. 45. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


A study was conducted to understand the informal learning processes of the members of a worker natural foods store cooperative, The Big Carrot, in Toronto. Eight members with central roles in the natural foods retailer were interviewed. In addition, key documents and other writings on the cooperative were examined. The data indicate that members of the cooperative acquire the knowledge that is needed to perform their roles using informal learning processes. Processes most often used were the following: (1) learning from experiences (learning by doing); (2) discussions (either one-on-one or during meetings); and (3) questions to internal experts and other members. The study concluded that the success of the informal learning processes at the Big Carrot may be due in part to the "social capital" in place as a result of the cooperative structure in which workers play a more integral role than in more common capitalist businesses.

KEY WORDS: Business Administration; Collegiality; Cooperatives; Developed Nations; Discussion; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Informal Education; On the Job Training; Ownership; Participative Decision Making; Postsecondary Education; Program Effectiveness; Social Capital; Success; Ontario (Toronto).

Reardon, R. F. (2004). Informal learning after organizational change. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16(7), 385-395.


This inductive, qualitative study investigates how learning took place among nine experienced engineers in an industrial setting after a major reorganization. A thematic analysis of the transcripts revealed that the learning was informal and that it fell into three distinct categories: learning new workflows, learning about the chemical process, and developing engineering expertise. The participants also describe five limitations to the learning in this context. The dynamic context of this study had a strong influence on the learning that took place.
KEY WORDS: Informal Learning; Organizational Change; Professional Education; Workplace Learning.

Schugurensky, D. (2000). The forms of informal learning: Towards a conceptualization of the field. NALL Working Paper No. 19. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


This paper shows that as an analytical category, if the concept of informal learning is used without distinguishing its internal forms, researchers may easily fall into conceptual confusion. The concept of informal learning is useful but still is too broad, as it encompasses different types of learnings which are usually conflated. This leads to a question: is it possible to develop a taxonomy of informal learning? The author suggests that by using two main categories (intentionality and consciousness), it is possible to develop a taxonomy which identifies three forms (or types) of informal learning: self-directed learning, incidental learning and socialization.
KEY WORDS: Informal Learning; Taxonomy; Self-directed Learning; Incidental Learning; Socialization.

Singh, M. (2000). Combining work and learning in the informal economy: Implications for education, training and skills development. International Review of Education, 46(6), 599-620.


Urges systems of education and training to cater to both formal and informal labor markets. Identifies the following components of such efforts: (1) taking into account the traditions and values of the system of vocational learning in working life; (2) accommodating local development needs; and (3) building on the competencies that people in the informal economy want and utilize.
KEY WORDS: Adult Basic Education; Adult Education; Conference Papers; Education Work Relationship; Equal Education; Foreign Countries; Informal Education; Nonformal Education; On the Job Training; Technical Education; Vocational Education.
Skule, S. (2004). Learning conditions at work: A framework to understand and assess informal learning in the workplace. International Journal of Training & Development. Special Workplace Learning, 8(1), 8-20.
The purpose of this article is to develop a framework to understand and assess the quality of learning environments in the workplace. It is argued that indicators used to measure and assess informal learning at work, at both the national and the enterprise level, are underdeveloped. Consequently, current frameworks to measure and benchmark learning are heavily biased towards education and formal training. A new framework is developed, based on a quantitative survey representative of the private sector in Norway. The framework consists of seven learning conditions, which have significant effects on informal learning at work. Implications for further research, policy and practice are discussed.
KEY WORDS: Informal Learning; Learning Environments; Learning Conditions; Workplace.

Smaller, H., Clark, R., Hart, D., Livingstone, D., & Noormohammed, Z. (2000). Teacher learning, informal and formal: Results of a Canadian teachers' federation survey. NALL Working Paper No. 14. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


As part of a larger national study examining informal learning practices across the general population, a representative random sample of elementary and secondary school teachers across English Canada were sent English language questionnaire forms in October of 1998, inquiring into their practices and opinions concerning their own on-going learning. Respondents (N=753) were asked to comment on any informal learning they may have done in the past year in their workplaces, their homes and their communities. They were also asked to report on any formal learning activities in which they participated in, including courses, workshops or conferences. Most questions replicated closely those asked in the 1998 national telephone survey (N=1562) of Canadian adults' learning practices (see Livingstone 1999). Over 85% of all teachers indicated that they had engaged in formal courses and workshops in the previous year, as compared to 49% of the entire Canadian labour force, and 67% of those in the labour force with university level education. Similarities and differences among teachers' responses were examined, based on gender, age, region, elementary/secondary school placement, urban/rural residence, position in the system. Teachers reported spending an average of over eight hours per week engaged in their own formal learning activity (including course time, reading and preparing assignments). In addition to this formal learning, teachers reported that they also spent an average of 4 hours per week in informal learning related to their jobs and an average of 10 hours per week devoted to informal learning activities generally (related to their employment, housework, community volunteer work and other general interests). Again, there were variations among teachers as well as within the general labour force. As one example, 89% of teachers, as compared to only 61% of the overall labour force and 77% of employed professionals, had engaged in informal learning of computers in the previous year.
KEY WORDS: Courses; Elementary Secondary Education; Informal Education; Inservice Teacher Education; Teacher Attitudes; Teacher Participation; Formal Education.

Smaller, H., Hart, D., Clark, R., & Livingstone, D. (2001). Informal/formal learning and workload among Ontario secondary school teachers. NALL Working Paper No. 39. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


Teachers' work in Canada, as elsewhere, is undergoing considerable change. Increasingly, standardized syllabi, curricula, assessment, student testing and reporting regimes are being imposed by central departments of education, and judging from reports on these interventions, provision for teachers to engage in formal workshops or training sessions to help understand and implement these initiatives has been uneven. While teachers, like all employees, have always engaged in incidental and informal learning with colleagues and others, the nature and extent of these recently imposed schooling reforms have raised questions about the ways in which teachers’ “on-the-job” learning practices might also have been affected.

Following up on an earlier national survey study of teachers’ formal and informal learning practices and interests, this paper covers two subsequent phases of the study undertaken by members of the same research group. For seven consecutive days in November/December 1999, and again the following February/March, thirteen Ontario secondary school teachers kept detailed logs of their day and evening activities, along with notations about what, if anything, they may have learned as a result of engaging in each of their numerous activities. Following an analysis of these diaries, lengthy telephone interviews were conducted during September 2000 with four of the diarists, for the purpose of exploring more thoroughly their engagement in formal and informal learning practices, particularly as they pertained to several province-wide schooling reform initiatives which were being introduced by the provincial government at the time. The 23 diaries revealed an average teacher workload of 48.7 hours per week, comparable to that found in similar teacher workload studies in other jurisdictions. ... Based on the data from the subsequent interviews, these teachers reported high levels of engagement in intentional informal learning activities, both at school and at home, in order to learn about and cope with the immense task of implementing the reforms. The paper ends with discussion on how this new informal learning resulted in new perceptions and beliefs about teacher identity, professionalism and the role of teacher unions.


KEY WORDS: Informal Education; Secondary Education; Secondary School Teachers; Teaching Conditions; Teaching Load; Formal Education.

Sousa, J., & Quarter, J. (2003). Informal and non-formal learning in non-profit organizations. NALL Working Paper No. 72. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


This paper demonstrates how non-profit organizations have increasingly taken on a more active role in providing a variety of services to either the general public or to a membership. In general, the operations of these organizations are shown to be maintained by a combination of employees and volunteers. Although those employees and volunteers may possess valuable experience, they often take advantage of resources provided within the organization in a less formal way than that found in an education facility. These resources can enable them to maintain their skill set or to upgrade other skills. The issues the paper explores are the predominant types of learning occuring within a non-profit organization and the available resources associated with the organization that promotes the predominant type of learning process.
KEY WORDS: Informal Education; Workplace Training; Non-formal learning; Non-profit Organizations.

Thomas, L., & Slack, K. (2003). Developing an evaluation framework: Assessing the contribution of community-based and work-based approaches to lifelong learning amongst educationally marginalised adults. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 8(1), 19-38.


Community-based and work-based learning projects to promote lifelong learning for marginalized British adults were compared on the following criteria: target audience, outreach, meeting new learners' needs, student development, sustainability, and generalizability. Systematic analysis showed the projects were more complex than a stereotypical economic versus progressive dichotomy. The evaluation framework could help balance elements in project development.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Community Education; Educationally Disadvantaged; Evaluation Methods; Foreign Countries; Lifelong Learning.

Turner, C. (2000). Identification, assessment and recognition of non-formal learning in Greece. Thessaloniki: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training.

This report describes a study to provide a picture of the stage of development, level, and nature of the debate on nonformal learning in Greece. It describes the national debate on questions of identification, assessment, and recognition of nonformal learning, including means, motives, and areas of agreement and conflict. Then, it describes existing and proposed methodologies and systems based on viewpoints and debates involving stakeholders. Links between initiatives related to nonformal learning assessment and the national qualification standards/framework are explored, and reference is made to areas of importance and concern. Finally, effectiveness, legitimacy, and validity of existing methods and experiences are assessed, including issues of mobility and visibility. Gaps and weaknesses are highlighted, and reflections on the future are expressed. Findings indicate that the past 3-4 years have witnessed the beginning of an awareness and interest by social partners and the government in Greece to issues related to identification, assessment, and recognition of nonformal learning. There is evidence of an initial level of dialogue on the issue but no coordinated integrated approach. Interest in the issues around nonformal learning focus essentially on recognition of nonformal vocational training and regulation over time of certain professions and trades, in a piecemeal and limited way, with inconsistent outcomes.

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