Making judgments as the basis for workplace learning: towards an epistemology of practice
Workplace learning has emerged as a significant site of adults’ informal experiential learning, with implications for the provision and shape of formal education. There are, however, a prohibitive number of variables encumbering research into such learning. We can bypass the variables by focusing on phenomenal accounts of how professionals (in this instance) make judgements at work, underpinned by an organic logic derivable from Dewey. This article shows how to characterize a new epistemology of practice through both empirical and conceptual innovation, and thus advances the detail of this new informal workplace learning. This epistemology deals in five characteristics central to lifelong learning anyway, namely: the contingent (rather than exclusively formal, sustained, and systematic studies); the practical (rather than exclusively the theoretical); the process (rather than exclusively the assimilation of content); the particular (rather than the exclusively universal and a priori as the ‘context’); and the affective and the social domains (rather than exclusively the cognitive domain). Our fieldwork so far shows, through interview findings, how these are prominent in professional workplace judgments, and what prospects there are for further research on judgment as a site of ‘organic’ learning for adults.