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Learning by storytelling: Narratives in the study of work-based learning

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stefanie Reissner

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Abstract

This paper describes in detail the narrative approach taken in a study of a particular facet of learning in the workplace – how people make sense of change. In unstructured in-depth interviews, employees were encouraged to tell their stories about their organisations, revealing details about the organisational culture and the ways in which this shaped the learning about change taking place withinthem. The paper shows that narrative analysis is a powerful tool with which to investigate work-based learning. It leads to new insights into how learning in the workplace can be conceptualised and supported in practice.Two key propositions are presented in this paper:a) Narratives play important roles in the workplace. They reflect the organisational culture and are therefore an ideal tool to assess whether an appropriate environment for learning - a ‘learning culture’ - exists. Such a learning culture is based on the values of trust and respect, making people feel comfortable in their workplaces.b) Narratives are also an important tool to manage change. Due to the close relationship between change and learning, people learn about their changing roles and relationships in the workplace and can adapt to them through sharing stories.In this study, the researcher took the role of an observer-reporter, listening, recording and replaying the conversations prevalent in the organisation. To ensurethe veracity of the data, the interviewees were given a copy of the transcript on which they were welcome to comment and to engage in shared interpretations.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Reissner SC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Adult and Continuing Education

Year: 2004

Volume: 10

Issue: 2

Pages: 99-113

Print publication date: 01/10/2004

Online publication date: 05/11/2012

Date deposited: 24/10/2014

ISSN (print): 1477-9714

ISSN (electronic): 1479-7194

Publisher: Manchester University Press

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.7227/JACE.10.2.2

DOI: 10.7227/JACE.10.2.2


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