Theory Theorists Diagram Terms Implications Examples Resources Credits

Situated Learning Theory

General Idea of situate learning: If you put a learner in a real world situation (authentic context) and interact with other people then learning occurs.

Situated learning usually involves engaging in tasks which parallel real world applications. The goal is to improve learning by motivating students and by providing a rich context for learning. It emphasizes the context and application of knowledge rather than memorizing facts (Heeter, 2005).

In 1988, Lave showed that housewives in Irvine, California who could successfully do the mathematics needed for comparison shopping were UNABLE to do the same mathematics when they were placed inside a classroom environment (Wikipedia, 2008a).

A learning environment is considered authentic if the tasks parallel real world situations (Heeter, 2005). Situated learning theory emphasizes social interactions and authentic learning. Students who work on an authentic learning task learn associated facts and skills because they need to know these things to accomplish the task. Learners should engage in context, culture and activity that learning takes place in order to acquire, understand, develop, and implement cognitive instruments in authentic learning activity.

Recently, situated cognition theorists have been pushing for more authentic research. They argue that situating their students and research participants in authentic situations will help them achieve better research results and ultimately enhance their understanding of educational theories. Thus, situated learning usually goes beyond a real world context, and also includes other social participants in the learner experience (Heeter, 2005).

The two approaches to learning: decontextualized (classroom) versus contextualized (situated) learning.

APPROACH 1: classroom
(decontextualized, inert)

APPROACH 2: authentic
(situated in real world problem to solve)

For example, go through the Photoshop reference manual, tool by tool, in alphabetical order, learning how each tool (line, paint, bucket, select, etc.) works including all possible optional settings. For example, start with a visualization task you want to accomplish (such as, create a logo for a company.) Look up and learn only a few particular tools you realize you may need to use to accomplish the design.

Table 1: Taken from (Heeter, 2005).

Theorists

Jean Lave (PhD., Social Anthropology, Harvard University, 1968) is a social anthropologist and noted social learning theorist. She is currently a Professor of Education and Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. Her studies of apprenticeships are recognized as significant contributions to educational psychology. In 1988, Lave showed that housewives in Irvine, California who could successfully do the mathematics needed for comparison shopping were unable to do the same mathematics when they were placed inside a classroom environment ( Wikipedia, 2008a).

Jean Lave is a social anthropologist with an interest in social theory. Her ethnographically-based research concentrates on the re-conceiving of learning, learners, and everyday life in terms of social practice. She has published three books on the subject: Understanding Practice (co-authored with S. Chaiklin, 1993); Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (with E. Wenger, 1991); and Cognition in Practice (1988). More recently her work has taken a historical turn with a collaborative, ethnohistorical research project, Producing Families, Trading in History on the British merchant families engaged in the port wine trade in Portugal – (History in Person: Enduring Struggles, Contentious Practice, Intimate Identities 2000, edited with Dorothy Holland).

Publications: taken fromVarenne, H. (2003).

1984

Everyday cognition: Its development in social context .  

1988

Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics, and culture in everyday life .   New York: Cambridge University Press

1992

"Coming of age in Birmingham: Cultural studies and conceptions of subjectivity."  Annual Reviews in Anthropology 21: 257-282.

1991

Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation .   New York: Cambridge University Press

1993

"The practice of learning."  in Understanding practice.   Edited by S. Chaiklin and J. Lave, 3-32.   New York: Cambridge University Press

1996

"Teaching, as learning, in practice."  Mind, Culture and Activity 3: 149-164.

2002

Estranged Labor Learning   Outlines 1: 19-48.

Useful Links: taken from Varenne, H. (2004).

Smith, M. K. (2003) ' Communities of practice', the encyclopedia of informal education. Last updated:

Diagram

Terms

Legitimate peripheral participation: (Atherton, 2005)
• It is legitimate because all parties accept the position of “unqualified” people as potential members of the “community of practice” (Atherton, 2005)
• Peripheral because they hang around on the edge of the important stuff, do the peripheral jobs, and gradually get entrusted with more important ones (Atherton, 2005)
• Participation because it is through doing knowledge that they acquire it. Knowledge is situated within the practices of the community of practice, rather than something which exists “out there” in books. (Atherton, 2005)

Decontextualized: classroom situation (removed from real world contexts) is described as inert.

Contextualized: learning in a given situation.

Communities of Practice (CoP) as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” This learning that takes place is not necessarily intentional. Three components are required in order to be a CoP: (1) the domain, (2) the community, and (3) the practice. (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008b)
• Domain: There needs to be a domain. A CoP has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest (e.g. radiologists, Star Trek fans, middle school history teachers, Seahawks football fans, etc.); it’s not just a network of people or club of friends. Membership implies a commitment to the domain (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008b).
• Community: There needs to be a community. A necessary component is that members of a specific domain interact and engage in shared activities, help each other, and share information with each other. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. In this way, merely sharing the same job does not necessitate a CoP. A static website on hunting in itself is not a community of practice. There needs to be people who interact and learn together in order for a CoP to be formed. Note that members do not necessarily work together daily, however. Wenger points to the example of Impressionist painters who sometimes met in cafes to discuss their painting styles. He indicates that even though these men normally painted alone, these kinds of interactions were essential to making them a CoP (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008b)
• Practice: There needs to be a practice: A CoP is not just people who have an interest in something (e.g. sports or agriculture practices). The third requirement for a CoP is that the members are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources which can include stories, helpful tools, experiences, stories, ways of handling typical problems, etc. This kind of interaction needs to be developed over time. A conversation with a random stranger who happens to be an expert on a subject matter that interests you does not in itself make a CoP. Informal conversations held by people of the same profession (e.g. office assistants or graduate students) help people share and develop a set of cases and stories that can become a shared repertoire for their practice, whether they realize it or not (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008b)
Communities develop their practice through a variety of methods, including: problem solving, requests for information, seeking the experiences of others, reusing assets, coordination and synergy, discussing developments, visiting other members, mapping knowledge and identifying gaps, thus social interaction and collaboration are essential components of situated learning (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008b).
Authentic Learning Environment: knowledge needs to be presented in authentic contexts i.e.: settings and situations that would simulate that knowledge (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008b).

Beginner/novice to Expert/master: A beginner moves from periphery of a community to its center, while doing so they become more active and engage within the culture eventually assuming the role of an expert (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008b).

Theory Theorists Diagram Terms Implications Examples Resources Credits

Adult Learning Theory Implications

The model has a number of implications:

Key Dimensions of Communities of Practice

 

What kind of knowledge?


Explicit information Tacit know-how, thinking

How much community interaction and identity ?

 

Individual Community

What closely to integrate sharing knowledge and work?


Special events Integrate into work

Figure 1: Key dimensions of communities of practice

 

TEAMS

COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE

Driven by

Deliverables:
Shared goals and results
Value defined by charter
Value in result delivered

Value:
Shared interest or practice
value discovered /evolves
value in ongoing process

Defined by

Task:
Interdependent tasks
clear boundaries

Knowledge:
Interdependent knowledge
permeable boundaries

Develops

Through a work plan:
Everyone contributes
Managed through objectives & work plan

Organically:
Variable contributions
Managed by making connections

Bound by

Commitment
Joint accountability
Based on explicit agreement
Team leader or manager

Identity:
Reciprocal contributions
Based on trust
core group/coordinator

Figure2: Teams versus communities of practice

Usually it is "just in time learning" (but not always - music, sports and military training often begin very early and continue for the whole career of the learner). And classrooms designed for situated learning are usually in use long before there is any "need" to learn the material at hand.

Based on the writings of Lave and Wenger, many have promoted pedagogies that include situated activity. For example,

A community of practice defines itself along three dimensions: by (Clark, 2004)

Examples

According to Heeter (2005) situated learning usually goes beyond a real world context, and also includes other social participants in the learner experience.

Example One - Learning Adobe Photoshop: For example, start with a visualization task you want to accomplish (such as, create a logo for a company.) Look up and learn only a few particular tools you realize you may need to use to accomplish the design, thus also learning the software (Heeter, 2005).

Example Two - Science Education : For an authentic situation, Heeter (2005) suggested a program called “National K-12 Galactic Garden Virtual Laboratory,” that Norm Lownd and he recommended based on a research, conducted on sixth and third grade classes, showing a possible involvement of students and teachers in authentic space plant research which contributes to the U.S. Space Program. This program could give school children an opportunity to participate in real science through online journals and scaffolding, thus also helping the goals of the space program ( Heeter, 2005).

Some pedagogies suggested by many authors based on the writings of Lave and Wenger, on situated activity are as follows: taken from (McDermott, 1998)

Classrooms (like real world): Workshops, kitchens, greenhouses and gardens
R ole playing (in the real world setting): military training (also considered as behaviorist approach)
Field trips: archaeological digs and participant-observer studies in an alien culture
On-the-job-training: apprenticeship and Cooperative education
Exact actions/Practice (in the real setting) with same equipment or instruments: Sports, music and arts practice.

Theory Theorists Diagram Terms Implications Examples Resources Credits

Resources

  1. Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in Practice: Mind, Mathematics and Culture in Everyday Life (Learning in Doing). NY: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Brown, J.S., Collins, A. & Duguid, S. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
  3. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1990). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge. UK: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Brown, J. S. & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational Learning and Communities of Practice: Toward A Unified View of Working, Learning and Innovation”. Management Science. Retrireved on February 29, 2008 from http://www2.parc.com/ops/members/brown/papers/orglearning.html
  5. Lave J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning. Legitimate Peripheral Participation. NY: Cambridge University Press.
  6. Stewart, T. A. (1996). The invisible key to success. Fortune, 134 (4), 173. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://home.att.net/~discon/KM/invisible_key.htm
  7. Wenger, E. (1996).Communities of practice: The social fabric of a learning organization. Health Forum Journal. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://www.ewenger.com/pub/pubhealthcareforum.htm
  8. Sharp, J. (1997). Communities of Practice: A Review of the Literature: Key Hypotheses in Supporting Communities of Practice. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://www.tfriend.com/hypothesis.html
  9. Stamp, D. (1997). Communities of practice: Learning is social, training is irrelevant? Training Magazine. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://www.co-i-l.com/coil/knowledge-garden/cop/learnsoc.shtml
  10. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. NY: Cambridge University Press.
  11. McDermott, R. (1998). Learning across teams: The role of communities of practice in team organizations. Knowledge management review. Retrieved on February 29, 2008 from http://home.att.net/~discon/KM/Learning.pdf
  12. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity . NY: Cambridge University Press.
  13. Mcdermott, R. (1999). Why Information Technology Inspired But Cannot Deliver Knowledge Management. California Management Review. Retrieved February 19, 2008 from http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b01/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=CMR158
  14. McDermott, R. (1999). Nurturing three dimensional Communities of Practice: How to get the most out of human networks. Knowledge Management Review. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://home.att.net/~discon/KM/Dimensions.pdf
  15. Wenger, E. & Snyder, W. (January-February 2000). Communities of practice: the organizational frontier. Harvard Business Review, 139-145.
  16. Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). Balancing Act: How to Capture Knowledge Without Killing It. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved on February 29, 2008 from http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=R00309
  17. Storck, J. & Hill, P. A. (2000). Knowledge diffusion through “strategic communities. MIT Sloan Management Review, 41 (2), 63-74. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://sloanreview.mit.edu/smr/issue/2000/winter/5/
  18. Wenger, E. (2001). Supporting communities of practice: a survey of community-oriented technologies. Retrieved from Self-published report Web site: http://www.ewenger.com/tech
  19. Brown, J. S. & Duguid, P. (2002). The Social Life of Information.   MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  20. Wenger, E., McDermott, R., and Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge. MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  21. Wenger, E., McDermott, R. & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice. MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  22. St. Onge, H. & Wallace, D. (2003). Leveraging Communities of Practice for Strategic Advantage .  MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  23. Wenger, E. (January 2004). Knowledge management is a donut: shaping your knowledge strategy with communities of practice. Ivey Business Journal.
  24. Foulger, T. S. (2005). Innovative progessional development standards: A shift to utilize communities of practices. Essays in education. Retrieved Nov 11, 2007, from http://www.usca.edu/essays/vol14summer2005.html Media:Foulger.pdf
  25. Carden, P. & Harris, R. (2006). Probationary constables and their journey through a community of practice. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 form the Adult Learning Australia Inc.: A catalyst for lifelong learning Web site: http://www.ala.asn.au/conf/2003/carden.pdf.
  26. Low, L. & O'Connell, M. (2006). Learner-Centric Design of Digital Mobile Learning. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved on February 26, 2008 from https://olt.qut.edu.au/udf/OLTCONFERENCEPAPERS/gen/static/papers/Low_OLT2006_paper.pdf
  27. Stein, D. (2007). Situated learning in adult education. Retrieved February 27, 2008 from ERICS digest Web site: http://www.ericdigests.org/1998-3/adult-education.html
  28. Lankard, B. A. (2007). New ways of learning in the work place. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from ERICS digest Web site: http://ericdigests.org/1996-2/work.html
  29. Janson, A. & Howard, L. (2008). The odyssey of Ph.D. students becoming a community of practice. Sage Journals, 67, 168. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from http://bcq.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/67/2/168
Theory Theorists Diagram Terms Implications Examples Resources Credits

Credits

Definition and Terms

  • Wikipedia, (2008a). Jean Lave. Retrieved February 27, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Lave
  • Wikipedia, (2008b). Situated learning. Retrieved February 27, 2008 form the Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia Web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situated_learning
  • Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in Practice: Mind, Mathematics and Culture in Everyday Life (Learning in Doing). NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Heeter, C. (2005). Situated Learning for designers: Social, Cognitive and Situative Framework. Retrieved on February 26, 2008 from the Michigan State University Web site: http://teachvu.vu.msu.edu/public/designers/social_interactions/index.php?page_num=4
  • Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2008a). Situated Learning Theory (Lave) at Learning-Theories.com. Retrieved February 27, 2008 from http://www.learning-theories.com/situated-learning-theory-lave.html
  • Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2008b). Social Learning Theories at Learning-Theories.com. Retrieved February 28, 2008 from http://www.learning-theories.com/vygotskys-social-learning-theory.html
  • Atherton, J. S. (2005). Legitimate peripheral participation. Retrieved from the Learningandteaching.info website. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/situated.htm
  • Theorist:

  • Wikipedia (2008a). Jean Lave. Retrieved from Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia. Retrieved April 2, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Lave
  • University of California at Berkeley (2008). Jean Lave. Retrieved April 2, 2008 from http://geography.berkeley.edu/PeopleHistory/faculty/J_Lave.html
  • Varenne, H. (2003). Selection of works by Jean Lave. Retrieved from the Department of International and Transcultural Studies Teachers College, Columbia University Web site: http://varenne.tc.columbia.edu/bib/auth/lav00jen0.html
  • Varenne, H. (2004). Further links to works by Jean Lave. Retrieved from the Department of International and Transcultural Studies Teachers College, Columbia University Web site: http://varenne.tc.columbia.edu/bib/auth/lav00jen0-links.html
  • Clark, D. R. (2004), Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger – Community of Practice. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/history_knowledge/wenger.html
  • Wenger, E (2008a). My biographical information: Short Bio. Retrieved April 14, 2008 from http://www.ewenger.com/bio/index.htm
  • Wenger, E (2008b). My biographical information: Full CV. Retrieved April 14, 2008 from http://www.ewenger.com/bio/index.htm
  • Lave Audio

  • University of Michigan . (2008). Lave, J. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://www.si.umich.edu/ICOS/Presentations/041699/
  • Diagram:

  • Conole, G. (2007). Tool and task affordances. Retrieved April 14, 2008 from e4innovation.com Web site: http://e4innovation.com/?cat=4
  • Atherton, J. (2005). Legitimate peripheral participation. Retrieved from the Learningandteaching.info website. Retrieved April 14, 2008 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/situated.htm
  • Implications:

  • Clark, D. (2004). Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger – Community of Practice, 1991. Retrieved April 14, 2008 from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/history_knowledge/wenger.html
  • McDermott, R. (1998). Learning across teams: the role of communities of practice in team organizations. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://home.att.net/~discon/KM/Learning.pdf
  • McDermott, R. (1999). Nurturing three dimensional communities of practice: how to get the most out of human networks. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://home.att.net/~discon/KM/Dimensions.pdf
  • Examples:

  • Wenger, E. (2008). Communities of practice: a brief introduction. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://www.ewenger.com/research/
  • Outcomes outline

    Morgan, C. K. & Kinross, C. (2001). Facilitating online interactivity among remotely located land management students: Figure 1 Learning strategies and pathways: current and desired. Retrieved February 27, 2008 from http://www.usq.edu.au/electpub/e-jist/docs/Vol5_No2/morganrevised.html

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