Social anthropologist Jean Lave and computer scientist Etienne Wenger's seminal Situated Learning helped change the fields of cognitive science and pedagogy by approaching learning from a novel angle. Traditionally, theories of learning and education had focused on processes of cognition - the mental processes of knowledge formation that occur within an individual. Lave and Wenger chose to look at learning not as an individual process, but a social one.
As so often with the creative thinking process, a small, simple shift in emphasis was all that was required to show things in an entirely different light. What Situated Learning illustrated - and emphasized - was that learning is dependent on its social situation. Even though the most effective way to learn is through interaction with experts and peers in a community organized around a common interest, the traditional cognitive learning model failed to account for the way in which learners interact with their `community of practice.' The new hypothesis that Lave and Wenger developed was that learning can be seen as a continuously evolving set of relationships situated within a social context. This allowed Lave and Wenger to place discussions of apprenticeship and workplace learning on a new footing - and led in turn to the book's impressive impact in business and management scholarship.
Dr Charmi Patel is an associate professor at the Henley Business School at the University of Reading. She holds a PhD in Organisational Behaviour and an MSc in Human Resource Management from the Aston Business School, Aston University, and has taught at the University of Edinburgh Business School. There she was also the Programme Director, for Edinburgh's MSc in International Human Resource management, having designed and launched the MSc programme from its inception until 2016. Her research uses the concepts of resource management and organizational behavior to examine the ways in which individuals relate to their work and to the organizations that employ them.
Ways in to the text Who were Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger? What does Situated Learning say? Why does Situated Learning matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited