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Friday, 8 June 2012

Activity Eight- Theory

This is a posted blog but requires some refining...

This weeks topic on theories has lead me to many links and some deep thought and interpretation.  This will be a topic I will consider and may change my standpoint depending on the angle that I am looking at the DFO course from and the learners. 

Upon reviewing the four orientations of learning (Merriam and Cafella, 1991), I believe that the course I am looking at comes from both humanist and social and situational orientations.  Smith (1999) discusses these orientations.  Humanist perspective from the theories of Maslow; and Rogers- Learning aimed towards autonomy with the facilitator role to look at the whole person- the underlying belief is that of unlimited potential of human growth- self-directed learning comes from this.  Social and Situational perspectives stems from the belief that observing and interacting with others with the context taken into account enables learning.  Participation is important and it looks at the person and the environment (note: person, occupation, environment is a key construct in OT).

The course, ‘Disability, Function, Occupation’ (DFO) as a whole fits well with deep learning approach. (Mind you, the current assessment of an exam leads to some very strategic learners!)
Deep learning is when ‘students make a real effort to connect with and understand what they are learning. This requires a strong base knowledge for students to then build on seeking both detailed information and trying to understand the bigger picture’ (learner centred learning wiki).  The focus of the learner is on what is signified, pulling together old knowledge with new knowledge, scaffolding from other courses, provides structure and content to make a whole, emphasis is internal from the student- the want to learn (Ramsden, 1988).

With the concept of case studies available to all (OER) and also the template' Process of learning about disease and disorder' as a wiki with a dialogue amongst practitioners and students this could be seen as utilizing a Community of Practice model  (although my interpretation could be pushing it?).  ‘Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly’ (Wenger, 2006). Although discussion is based on communities of practice not being a part of formal training, the set up of the learning is such that not everyone involved will be a part of formal learning.  The definition of participation interested me.  ‘Participation because it is through doing knowledge that they acquire it. Knowledge is situated within the practices of the community of practice, rather than something which exists “out there” in books’ (Atherton, 2011).  I could bring in clinical reasoning about novice vs expert differences in practice and also tacit knowledge in here (Linda Roberton has a new book out and she is the resident expert at OP)- the terms are developed and expanded on by Mattingly and Fleming (1994). Here is the website that uses Tacit knowledge as part of the research for application .


Atherton J.S. (2011). Learning and teaching; Deep and surface learning retrieved from -  (Ramsden, 1988 cited in this website also)

Mattingly, C. & Fleming, M. (1994).  Clinical reasoning:  Forms of inquiry in therapeutic practice. USA; FA Davis.

Merriam, S.B. & Caffarella, R.S. (1991). Learning in adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Smith, M.K. (1999). Learning theory. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from

Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: a brief introduction. Retrieved from
(This is a good website for further reading on communities of practice and its definitions)


  1. Jayne I believe that you could consider your model a community of learning which could lead to a community of practice (in the strict sense of the word) once your students graduate. However, when students, their practice could be seen to be their educational activities. So if they are interacting together in the manner described by Etienne Wenger, then they are engaged in a COP with your guidance. Participation as you say is essential for a community like that to be successful.

    Your discussion illustrates how difficult it is to fixate on just one theory when you clearly pick and mix from lots of different ones.

    Community of Practice learning theory seems to be our main interest - is that the case?

  2. I think the commuity of practice model fits with OT, which is why I delved into it. I like the idea of community of learning. Other work in FL and CCEL by lecturers in the OT school has been on constructivism and connectivism so in reality, for a course this will be the case, but for the strategy I have chosen the model would be community of learning or community of practice.