Bridging professional learning, doing and innovation through making epistemic artefacts

We added to our slideware our presentation “Bridging professional learning, doing and innovation through making epistemic artefacts”, presented last week at the Practice-Based Education Summit “Bridging Practice Spaces” at Charles Sturt University. This presentation draws on the ideas from Chapter 8: Objects, things and artefacts in professional learning and doing of the book “Epistemic Fluency and Professional Learning“. It discusses how students’ work on making various artefacts for their assessments in courses that prepare them for professional practice bridges knowledge learnt in university setting with knowledge work in workplaces.

The gist of our argument can be summarised as follows:

  1. Professional expertise is inseparable from capacities to (co-)construct epistemic environments that enhance knowledgeable actions.
  2. Such expertise is grounded in embodied, situated professional knowledge work.
  3. Much of this work is done by (co-)creating epistemic artefacts that embody actionable knowledge.
  4. Productive epistemic artefacts connect the object (‘why’ of work) and the thing (‘what’ of work) through action (‘know how’) and ways of thinking that underpin situated professional innovation (ie. epistemic fluency)

In learning, much of the value of the epistemic artefacts comes from their dual and deeply entangled nature: they are simultaneously objective and grounded in situated experiences (aka. subjective). They embody actionable knowledge, and the activity through which they are constructed embodies knowledgeable action. They are reflective and projective.
Learning through making artefacts line

Bridging professional learning, doing and innovation through making epistemic artefacts

Lina Markauskaite and Peter Goodyear, Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation

Presented at Practice-Based Education Summit “Bridging Practice Spaces” @ CSU, Sydney 13-14 April, 2016


Professional learning and assessment in higher education often involve production of various artefacts, such as lesson plans and reflections in teaching, assessment reports and case studies in counselling, drawings and portfolios in architecture. What is the nature of the artefacts that students produce during their professional learning? How does students’ work on making these artefacts help them to bridge knowledge learnt in university setting with knowledge work in workplaces?

In this presentation we report on our research in which we combine socio-cultural “mediation” (Kaptelinin, 2005), socio-material “objectual practice” (Knorr Cetina, 2001) and extended ecological cognition perspectives (Ingold, 2012; Knappett, 2010) to investigate the nature of learning activities in the overlapping spaces of the university and the workplace. Specifically, we investigate the nature of the artefacts that students create as a part of assessment tasks during their preparation for professional practice.

Initially, we argue that learning in university settings and doing in workplaces are two distinct kinds of objectual practices that are inherently directed towards different kinds of objects. We unpack the nature of these two kinds of objectual practices by distinguishing between object as motive and object as material entity. Specifically, We show that university learning orients itself towards abstract forms of knowledge that can travel across diverse workplace contexts and situations, while workplace practices orient themselves towards production of concrete situated solutions of specific professional problems.

Then, we look at the nature of activities and artefacts produced by students during preparation for work placements in the overlapping space of the university and the workplace., what kinds of epistemic experiences these artefacts afford and what their relationships with professional knowledge and knowing practices are. We show that these artefact-oriented activities, and the artefacts produced, often connect, rather than separate, abstract knowledge and objects of professional practice with embodied skill through concrete, materially expressed, actions and things . This entangled epistemic nature of professional learning artefacts allows bridging not only learning and work, but also learning and innovation. To make this argument we distinguish between different kinds of epistemic artefacts that students create – showing the ways in which they elucidate, preserve, transfer, fine-tune, mediate and advance upon professional knowledge and skills.


  1. Ingold, T. (2012). Toward an ecology of materials. Annual Review of Anthropology, 41(1), 427-442.
  2. Kaptelinin, V. (2005). The object of activity: making sense of the sense-maker. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 12(1), 4-18.
  3. Knappett, C. (2011). Networks of objects, meshworks of things. In T. Ingold (Ed.), Redrawing Anthropology: Materials, Movements, Lines (pp. 45-63): Ashgate.
  4. Knorr Cetina, K. (2001). Objectual practice. In T. R. Schatzki, K. Knorr Cetina & E. von Savigny (Eds.), The practice turn in contemporary theory (pp. 175-188). London: Routledge.

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