Reconceptualising Professional Learning : Sociomaterial knowledges, practices and responsibilities book cover
1st Edition

Reconceptualising Professional Learning
Sociomaterial knowledges, practices and responsibilities

ISBN 9780415815789
Published March 4, 2014 by Routledge
246 Pages

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Book Description

This book presents leading-edge perspectives and methodologies to address emerging issues of concern for professional learning in contemporary society. The conditions for professional practice and learning are changing dramatically in the wake of globalization, new modes of knowledge production, new regulatory regimes, and increased economic-political pressures. In the wake of this, a number of challenges for learning emerge:

  • more practitioners become involved in interprofessional collaboration
  • developments in new technologies and virtual workworlds
  • emergence of transnational knowledge cultures and interrelated circuits of knowledge.

The space and time relations in which professional practice and learning are embedded are becoming more complex, as are the epistemic underpinnings of professional work. Together these shifts bring about intersections of professional knowledge and responsibilities that call for new conceptions of professional knowing.

Exploring what the authors call sociomaterial perspectives on professional learning they argue that theories that trace not just the social but also the material aspects of practice – such as tools, technologies, texts but also bodies and actions - are useful for coming to terms with the challenges described above.

Reconceptualising Professional Learning develops these issues through specific contemporary cases focused on one of the book’s three main themes: (1) professionals’ knowing in practice, (2) professionals’ work arrangements and technologies, or (3) professional responsibility. Each chapter draws upon innovative theory to highlight the sociomaterial webs through which professional learning may be reconceptualised. Authors are based in Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the USA as well as the UK and their cases are based in a range of professional settings including medicine, teaching, nursing, engineering, social services, the creative industries, and more.

By presenting detailed accounts of these themes from a sociomaterial perspective, the book opens new questions and methodological approaches. These can help make more visible what is often invisible in today’s messy dynamics of professional learning, and point to new ways of configuring educational support and policy for professionals.

Table of Contents

Professional knowing, work arrangements and responsibility: new times, new concepts?

Tara Fenwick, University of Stirling and Monika Nerland, University of Oslo

Section1: Reconceptualising Professional Knowing

  1. Professional knowing-in-practice: rethinking materiality and border resources in telemedicine
  2. Silvia Gherardi, University of Trento, Italy

  3. Learning through epistemic practices in professional work: examples from nursing and engineering
  4. Monika Nerland and Karen Jensen, University of Oslo, Norway

  5. The doctor and the blue form: learning professional responsibility
  6. Miriam Zukas, Birkbeck, University of London and

    Sue Kilminster, Leeds Medical Education Institute, University of Leeds

  7. Re-thinking teacher professional learning: a more than representational account
  8. Dianne Mulcahy, University of Melbourne, Australia

  9. Surfacing the multiple: diffractive methods for rethinking professional practice and knowledge
  10. Davide Nicolini and Bridget Roe, Warwick University, UK


    Section II: Reconceptualising Professional Work Arrangements

  11. Nurturing occupational expertise in the contemporary workplace: an ‘apprenticeship turn’ in professional learning
  12. Alison Fuller, University of Southampton

    Lorna Unwin, Institute of Education, UK

  13. A technology shift and its challenges to professional conduct: mediated vision in endodontics
  14. Åsa Mäkitalo, University of Gotenburg, Sweden

    Claes Reit

  15. Engineering knowing in the digital workplace: aligning sociality and materiality in practice
  16. Aditya Johri, Virginia Tech University, USA

  17. Interprofessional working and learning: a conceptualization of their relationship and its implications for education
  18. David Guile, Institute of Education, UK

  19. Arrangements of co-production in healthcare: partnership modes of interprofessional practice
  20. Roger Dunston, University of Technology at Sydney, Australia

    Section III: Reconceptualising Professional Responsibility

  21. Materiality and professional responsibility
  22. Tara Fenwick, University of Stirling, UK

  23. Developing professional responsibility in medicine: a sociomaterial curriculum
  24. Nick Hopwood, University of Technology at Sydney, Australia

    Madeleine Abrandt Dahlgren, Linköping University, Sweden

    Karin Siwe, Linköping University, Sweden

  25. Dilemmas of responsibility for health professionals in independent practice
  26. Sarah Wall, University of Alberta, Canada

  27. Putting time to ‘good’ use in educational work: a question of responsibility
  28. Helen Colley, Huddersfield University, UK

    Lea Henriksson, University of Tampere, Finland

    Beatrix Niemeyer, University of Flensburg, Germany

    Terri Seddon, Monash University, Australia

  29. Professional learning for planetary sustainability: ‘thinking through country’

Margaret Somerville, University of Western Sydney


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Tara Fenwick is Professor of Education at the University of Stirling, UK and director of ProPEL, an international network for research in professional practice, education and learning.. Her most recent book is Emerging Approaches to Educational Research: tracing the sociomaterial, with R. Edwards and P. Sawchuk (Routledge 2012).

Monika Nerland is Professor of Education at the University of Oslo, Norway.  She has led several research projects focusing on leraning and knowledge development in different professions.  She recently co-edited the book Professional Learning in the Knowledge Society, with K. Jensen and L.C. Lahn (Sense 2012).