Expansive Learning in a Library: Actions, Cycles and Deviations from Instructional Intentions

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    The theory of expansive learning has been applied in a large number of studies on workplace learning and organizational change. However, detailed comprehensive analyses of entire developmental interventions based on the theory of expansive learning do not exist. Such a study is needed to examine the empirical usability and methodological rigor afforded by the theory of expansive learning. In this paper, we present a comprehensive analysis of learning in a entire Change Laboratory intervention in which the workers of an academic library, together with their clients, redefined the services the library offers to research groups and the ways of organizing work in the library. We identified expansive learning and non-expansive actions in the transcripts of the intervention sessions. We examined cyclicity of expansive learning at three levels, namely the level of the entire Change Laboratory process, the level of each Change Laboratory session, and the level of cross-session object-bound cycles. Finally we analyzed deviations between the instructional intentions of the interventionists and the actually accomplished learning process. The analysis shows that in a real-life formative intervention expansive learning actions emerged in the midst of a fairly large number and diversity of non-expansive learning actions. Our analysis of cyclicity revealed an iterative loop within the overall cycle of the Change Laboratory. Our analysis of deviations from instructional intentions and plans demonstrates that expansive learning is indeed more than mere replication or imposition of the interventionists’ plans. The very process is punctuated by deviations which open up space for learner agency and creation of truly new solutions and concepts.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalVocations and Learning
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)81-106
    Number of pages26
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Fields of Science

    • 516 Educational sciences
    • Expansive learning
    • Learning actions
    • Cyclicity
    • Deviations
    • Change Laboratory

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