Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger) - Learning TheoriesThis article or chapter is incomplete and its contents need further attention. Some information may be missing or may be wrong, spelling and grammar may have to be improved, use your judgment! Situated learning like socio-constructivism refers either to families of learning theories or pedagogic strategies. It is closely related to socio-culturalism and distributed cognition and probably identical to cognitive apprenticeship. For Brown, Collins and Duguid knowledge is a set of tools that need a context in order to be used and made explicit. The way in which knowledge will be used to solve a problem will be determined by the culture and the environment that encompasses an activity.
Situated Learning Theory
Lave and Wenger have proposed that learning is situated and occurs by means of legitimate peripheral participation within a community of practice, in contrast with conventional schools which are based upon the assumption that knowledge can be decontextualized. I argue that their perspective is inappropriate for science teaching, because a newcomer must have a significant amount of basic and background knowledge before entering into meaningful participation in technological communities of practice. Nevertheless, science teachers in traditional schools can benefit from pedagogical insights that follow from the perspective of situated learning. The curricular content as well as the learning activities should be influenced by the nature of the activities that occur in the communities of practice that students will encounter in the future. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content.
Situated learning is a theory on how individuals acquire professional skills, extending research on apprenticeship into how legitimate peripheral participation leads to membership in a community of practice. Situated learning "takes as its focus the relationship between learning and the social situation in which it occurs". The perspective can be contrasted with alternative views of learning: "Rather than defining [learning] as the acquisition of propositional knowledge, Lave and Wenger situated learning in certain forms of social co-participation. Rather than asking what kinds of cognitive processes and conceptual structures are involved, they ask what kinds of social engagements provide the proper context for learning to take place". Situated learning was first proposed by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger as a model of learning in a community of practice. At its simplest, situated learning is learning that takes place in the same context in which it is applied.
Learning viewed as situated activity has as its central defining characteristic a process that we call legitimate peripheral participation. By this we mean to draw attention to the point that learners inevitably participate in communities of practitioners and that the mastery of knowledge requires newcomers to move toward full participation in the sociocultural practices of a community. It concerns the process by which newcomers become part of a community of practice. This social process includes, indeed it subsumes, the learning of knowledgeable skills …. Thus, analysis of school learning as situated requires a multilayered view of how knowing and learning are part of social practice … [P]ervasive claims concerning the sources of the effectiveness of schooling teaching, in the specialization of schooling in changing persons, in the special modes of inculcation for which schools are known stand in contradiction with the situated perspective we have adopted. All this have meant that our discussions of schooling were often contrastive, even oppositional …. It is an analytical viewpoint on learning, a way of understanding learning.