Workplace Learning: Main Themes & Perspectives: Learning as Work Research Paper, No. 2 June 2004

Tracey Yeadon-Lee, Alison Fuller, David Ashton, Peter Butler, Alan Felstead, Lorna Unwin, Sally Walters

Research output: Working paper


This paper provides an overview and critical discussion of some of the main themes and perspectives within existing academic literature concerning workplace learning. The introductory section of the paper outlines why learning at work has become a prominent issue for policy makers,
employers and employees and discusses the social and multidisciplinary contexts through which workplace learning is understood and conceptualised. The paper continues in section one, to address the different approaches to learning that permeate current enquiry and research within the field. The discussion here centres upon two paradigms and two associated perspectives of learning and highlights how through these, the term ‘learning’ is subject to multiple definitions. Section two discusses formal and informal learning and attends to the ways in which learning at work has traditionally been associated with informal learning processes. The discussion illustrates how, as a result of ongoing debate, this perspective has been complicated and challenged and that learning at work is now understood to encompass a variety of both ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ elements. The final section of the paper, addresses the relationship between organisational structure and individual engagement in workplace learning. The discussion focuses on how underpinning this relationship is a structure/agency dynamic which, when attended to, illustrates how individuals and their learning contexts of work cannot be considered separately.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Leicester
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


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