01 SES 02 B, Aspects of Mentoring
This research aims to contribute knowledge about the conditions for shared learning processes in a professional group when new knowledge is developed in a tradition-laden context. The study is conducted in a professional context in which psychoanalysts working separately, in their own private practices, form a group that meets regularly for developing a psychoanalytical treatment for infants. The professionals involved are unable to see one another in action due to the confidential nature of the clinical work, an aspect that influences the processes of learning.
- How do the psychoanalysts describe their work to develop a new method in clinical activities?
- How do the psychoanalysts describe their work to develop a new method in joint meetings?
- How can the relationship between the psychoanalysts' clinical work and the joint meetings and communication be understood as conditions for learning processes?
This is a ethnographic study, and the empirical material consists primarily of 17 transcribed qualitative interviews with psychoanalysts specializing in infant psychoanalysis. The research examines the conditions for learning processes from a constructivist and action theory point of departure.
My understanding of learning has a constructivist foundation. Bourgeois (2002) emphasizes that the constructivist model is a theoretical model whose function is to describe and interpret how learning processes can work, rather than a prescriptive model. In line with Bourgeois, I see the constructivist model as a model which describes learning in general and which is useful when identifying conditions for learning in different contexts. From a constructivist perspective of how knowledge is generated, we could see learning as a result of the individual's conscious actions, and in fact several studies highlight the action dimension of learning (Schön 1983; Ellström 2001; Döös och Wilhelmson 2005; Rönnström 2006; Ellström 2010, 2011; Nilsen, Nordström och Ellström 2011). For analysis of conditions for learning in this specific case, I make use of reasoning grounded in action theory. The context forms a basis for how an individual understands his or her task and carries out actions that have consequences, which in turn affect the context in a continuous process of interdependence. In the analysis of the case I use the concept ‘communicative action’ (Habermas 1996), that can be seen as the very framework of each learning and influence process, and so it is relevant to observe communicative action in pedagogical studies of social practices (Rönnström 2006). An important aspect of communicative action is that the participants in the discussion strive to attain a mutual understanding through intersubjectivity (Habermas 1996).
Further research on professional groups prevented from seeing each other in action is suggested in order to test the applicability of the suggested concepts “primary arena” and “secondary arena” and to investigate the nature of shared learning processes in other contexts.
Bourgeois, E. (2002). A constructivist approach to adult learning. Theories in adult education research. Bron, A. och Schemman, M. (red.) Münster, Tyskland, Lit Verlag. Döös, M. och Wilhelmson, L. (2005). Kollektivt lärande. Om betydelsen av interaktion i handling och gemensam handlingsarena. Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige 10(3/4): 209-226. Ellström, P.-E. (2001). Integrating learning and work: problems and prospects. Human Resource Development Quarterly 12(4): 421-435. Ellström, P.-E. (2010). Practice-based innovation: a learning perspective. Journal of Workplace Learning 22(1): 27-40. Ellström, P.-E. (2011). Informal learning at work: Conditions, processes and logics. The SAGE Handbook of Workplace Learning. Malloch, M., Cairns, L., Evans, K. och O'Connor, B. (red.) London, SAGE Publications. Habermas, J. (1996). Kommunikativt handlande. Texter om språk, rationalitet och samhälle. Göteborg, Daidalos. Nilsen, P., Nordström, G. och Ellström, P.-E. (2011). Integrating research-based and practice-based knowledge through workplace reflection. Journal of Workplace Learning 24(6): 403-415. Rönnström, N. (2006). Kommunikativ naturalism. Om den pedagogiska kommunikationens villkor. Stockholm, Lärarhögskolan i Stockholm. Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. USA, Basic Books. Smith, J., Flowers, P. och Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Theory, method and research. London, SAGE Publications.
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