Author Archives: petergoodyear

The intended audiences for the book

The book addresses the needs of two main audiences, which have an overlapping interest in the nature of professionals’ working knowledge and the reform of professional education.

The first audience consists of academic researchers, including research students, whose interests focus on understanding:

  • contemporary workplaces
  • the nature of (multidisciplinary and inter-professional) knowledge work
  • the nature of professional knowledge and its role in solving novel and recurrent problems in professional practice
  • the integration of personal and situational resources in professional problem-solving
  • the strengths and limitations of programs of professional education.

The cross-disciplinary nature of these issues means that the book will be of interest to researchers from a variety of fields, including those researching in the learning sciences, higher education, workplace studies and organizational studies.

The second audience consists of those who have a leadership responsibility for programs of professional education in universities and elsewhere. The book will be of value to those considering major changes in such programs – from curriculum, assessment, accreditation, learning and teaching perspectives. It will also be useful to university teaching staff, workplace mentors and others who have responsibility for the successful running of professional education and personnel development programs, including the design and management of work-based learning experiences.

Although the empirical work reported in the book has been conducted in Australia, the book forges strong connections with research and practice in Europe, North America and elsewhere. The book will be of interest to an international audience.

Book proposal

The main text of the book proposal to Springer

What does it take to be a productive member of a multidisciplinary team working on a complex problem? What enables a person to integrate different types and fields of knowledge, indeed different ways of knowing, in order to make some well-founded decisions about actions to be taken in the world? What personal knowledge resources are entailed in analysing a problem and describing an innovative solution, such that the innovation can be shared in an organization or professional community? How do people get better at these things; and how can teachers in higher education help students develop these valued capacities? The answers to these questions are central to a thorough understanding of what it means to become an effective knowledge worker and of how the preparations of students for a profession can be improved.

Working on real-world problems usually requires the combination of different kinds of specialised and context-dependent knowledge, as well as different ways of knowing. People who are flexible and adept with respect to different ways of knowing about the world can be said to posses “epistemic fluency”.

This book is intended to make a contribution to our understanding of epistemic fluency in some of the core activities of professional workers. It uses data from a four-year project investigating the boundaries between (university-based) professional education and professional practice, with the aim of analysing the epistemic nature of such professional work and identifying some key sources of capability that people need if they are to engage successfully in it. These embrace a range of mental resources, including conceptual, perceptual and experiential resources and, especially, the epistemic resources that help people to recognise and switch between different ways of knowing and forms of knowledge. Such resources also help people participate in the creation of new knowledge that can be represented and shared in their professional culture(s).

The book is part of a general move to build upon, and integrate, cognitivist and socio-cultural accounts of learning, knowing and acting. It draws on research into professional learning carried out in continental Europe, Britain, North America and Australia. It unites this with two previously discrete streams of theorisation about learning and thinking which originate in (i) research on science education and “resource-based” epistemology, originating in America and (ii) research on the materiality of knowledge work, originating in France. The book’s synthesis of recent research into the nature of professional learning, knowledge work and personal mental resources offers a new and powerful conceptualisation of epistemic fluency in professional practice. It links the social and material investigation of purposeful activity with the exploration of key features of mental resourcefulness in knowledge work. Results from our empirical studies are used to illustrate and develop this conceptual framework and to shed light on practical ways in which the development of epistemic fluency can be recognised and supported – in higher education and in the transition to work. The book will be of interest to an international audience of researchers, as well as to curriculum leaders and other practitioners in the areas of professional education and continuing professional development.

The opening para of the original book proposal

What does it take to be a productive member of a multidisciplinary team working on a complex problem? What enables a person to integrate different types and fields of knowledge, indeed different ways of knowing, in order to make some well-founded decisions about actions to be taken in the world? What personal knowledge resources are entailed in analysing a problem and describing an innovative solution, such that the innovation can be shared in an organization or professional community? How do people get better at these things; and how can teachers in higher education help students develop these valued capacities? The answers to these questions are central to a thorough understanding of what it means to become an effective knowledge worker and of how the preparations of students for a profession can be improved.

(January 2012)