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Learning Across University and Workplace Activity Systems: The Case of Teacher Education for Post-School Education

Finlay, Ian (2004) Learning Across University and Workplace Activity Systems: The Case of Teacher Education for Post-School Education. PhD thesis, University of Lancaster.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the issue of professional education in the university setting. It is conducted against a background of uncertainty in the role for universities in the education of professionals with mixed messages coming from central government about how it views this role. There are also certain strands of theory of work-place learning that raise the issue of the possibilities or lack of possibility of carrying knowledge or skills from one community of practice to another. These theories also consider contextualised as opposed to de-contextualised learning. The specific site or case chosen to examine this problem is the initial teacher education of lecturers for post-school education in a Scottish university. The main question is: - Can agencies like universities have a theoretically sound and pragmatically robust role in developing people for professional practice, particularly the practice of teaching in post-school education? Engeström's activity theory is used as a lens through which to address the above question using a series of written narrative accounts of the experience of learning provided by a number of participants in the case study site. The learners report both changes in identity that transformed their practices and the acquisition of new strategies, techniques, and ideas that they were able to adapt and reconstruct for use in their practice. The idea of learning in the intersection between activity systems was developed from Engeström's work to make sense of the transformative experiences of the subjects as they crossed the boundary between work and university