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Work-based learning through negotiated projects - exploring learning at the boundary

Journal article
Authors Anne Algers
Berner Lindström
Lars Svensson
Published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 2-19
ISSN 2042-3896
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 2-19
Language en
Keywords Activity system, Boundary crossing, Learning at the boundary, Open learning, Placement learning, Work experience
Subject categories Learning


Purpose-More collaborative and open learning models are suggested as part of the paradigm shift in the way knowledge is produced, distributed, and used. The purpose of this paper is to explore a work-based learning (WBL) model, based on systemic negotiations between actors from the three parties: the academy, the industry, and the students. The purpose is to investigate how teachers, supervisors, and students value negotiated WBL as a boundary activity and to enhance the understanding of the learning potential at the boundary. Design/methodology/approach-Activity theory is used as a lens to analyse the results from a survey to the three stakeholder groups and interviews of students. The four learning mechanisms are used to explore learning at the boundary between the two activity systems. Findings-Diversity and mobility in education and work addressed by the notion of boundary crossing are associated with both challenges and a learning potential. There is a constant dynamic between structure and agency, where structure, the negotiated model, influence the individual agency. When gradually removing scaffolding students can as boundary crossers engage behaviourally, emotionally, and cognitively and have agency to handle contradictions at a local level. However, they did not seem to prioritise both systems equally but instead they were gradually socialised into the activity system of the industry. Originality/value-When WBL is framed by a negotiated partnership it can manage and customise inherent conflicts of interest and enhance individual learning opportunities at the boundary and can be conceptualised as an open learning practice. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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