The workplace as learning environment in early childhood teacher education: an investigation of work-based education


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Taylor & Francis

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The article focuses on the workplace as a learning environment in work-based early childhood teacher education in Norway. The main question is: Which understandings of the workplace as a learning environment are to be found in regulations and policy documents, among students and among staff managers? Taking as the point of departure, a theoretical framework based on J.A. Raelin’s model of work-based learning, findings from text-analysis, group interviews, and questionnaires are presented. In early childhood teacher education regulations, the relevance to the field of practice is stressed, but little attention is paid to the learning environment at work. Students have very different experiences of the workplace as a site of learning as some get much support, while others experience resistance. They experience their role as students as a process of change, and it varies to which extent the workplace is able to receive and make use of their new knowledge. Knowledge is brought back in different ways by the students. Correspondingly, staff managers also express different opinions as regards the involvement of the workplace. A prominent feature in both groups’ answers is the focus on the individual level. In line with Raelin’s model, the discussion identifies the absence of focus on the community of practice as a main challenge. The conclusion points out that in order to develop work-based education further, specific recognition of the importance of the workplace as a learning environment is needed.




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