Developing Complex Performance Through Learning Trajectories and Re-creating Mediating Artefacts

  • Michael ErautEmail author
Part of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (TVET, volume 18)


This chapter draws attention to the epistemology of practice, tacit knowledge and the limitations of using competences during rapid change and increasing complex working practices. Two ways of addressing this problem are suggested. The first is to replace competencies bylearning trajectories, and the second concerns thecreation and re-creation of mediating artefacts. These learning trajectories are key aspects of work, which together cover a range of achievements. They enable workers and employers to describe their work in the context of lifelong learning rather than the moment of formal qualifications. They also make it easier to develop a balance between individuals and organisations by encouraging progress and including personal qualities rarely used for qualifications. The second suggestion is to give more attention to the use of mediating artefacts in developing future expertise as well as confirming current practices. Althoughmediating artefacts are helpful for some stages of learning, they need to be regularlyre-created to address complex challenges and opportunities. The examples described in this chapter come from the author’s work with teachers, chartered accountants, nurses and doctors.


Tacit Knowledge Lifelong Learning Early Career Cultural Knowledge Personal Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bolden, R., & Gosling, J. (2004, September).Leadership and management competencies: Lessons from the national occupational standards. Paper presented to BPS Social Psychology Section Conference, University of Exeter, Centre for Leadership Studies.Google Scholar
  2. Engestrom, Y. (1987).Learning by expanding: An Activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.Google Scholar
  3. Engestrom, Y., Engestrom, R., & Kerosuo, H. (2003). The discursive construction of collaborative care.Applied Linguistics, 24(3), 286–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Eraut, M. (1997). Perspectives on defining ‘The Learning Society’.Journal of Education Policy, 12(6), 551–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eraut, M. (1998). Concepts of competence.Journal of Interprofessional Care, 12(2), 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal learning and tacit knowledge in professional work.British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 113–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eraut, M. (2004). Informal learning in the workplace.Studies in Continuing Education, 26(2), 247–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eraut, M. (2007). Learning from other people in the workplace.Oxford Review of Education, 33(4), 403–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eraut, M. (2008).Evaluation of the introduction of the intercollegiate surgical curriculum programme. London: Royal College of Surgeons.Google Scholar
  10. Eraut, M., & Hirsh, W. (2007).The significance of workplace learning for individuals, groups and organisations (SKOPE Monograph 6). Oxford: University of Oxford, SKOPE.Google Scholar
  11. Eraut, M., Goad, L., & Smith, G. (1975).The analysis of curriculum materials. University of Sussex Education Area Occasional Paper 2, Sussex.Google Scholar
  12. Eraut, M., Alderton, J., Boylan, A., & Wraight, A. (1995).Learning to use scientific knowledge in education and practice settings. London: English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting.Google Scholar
  13. Eraut, M., Steadman, S., Trill, J., & Parkes, J. (1996).The assessment of NVQs (Research Report No. 4). Sussex: University of Sussex Institute of Education.Google Scholar
  14. Eraut, M., Alderton, J., Cole, G., & Senker, P. (1998). Learning from other people at work. In F. Coffield (Ed.),Learning at work. Bristol: The Policy Press.Google Scholar
  15. Eraut, M., Steadman, S., & James, J. (2001).Evaluation of higher level nVQs (Research Report No. 9). Sussex: University of Sussex Institute of Education.Google Scholar
  16. Eraut, M., Maillardet, F., Miller, C., Steadman, S., Ali, A., Blackman, C., & Furner, J. (2005).What is learned in the workplace and how? Typologies and results from a cross-professional longitudinal study. EARLI biannual conference, Nicosia.Google Scholar
  17. Hackman, J. R. (1987). The design of work teams. In J. Lorsch (Ed.),Handbook of organizational behavior (pp. 315–342). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  18. Klein, G. A., Orasanu, J., Calderwood, R., & Zsambok, C. E. (Eds.). (1993).Decision-making in action, models and methods. Norwood: Ablex.Google Scholar
  19. Salas, E., Dickinson, T. L., Converse, S. A., & Tannenbaum, S. I. (1992). Toward an understanding of team performance and training. In R. Swezey & E. Salas (Eds.),Teams: Their thinking and performance. Norwood: Ablex.Google Scholar
  20. Steadman, S., Eraut, M., Maillardet, F., Miller, C., Furner, J., Ali, A., & Blackman, C. (2005).Methodological challenges in studying workplace learning: strengths and limitations of the adopted approach. Paper for BERA Annual Conference, Pontypridd.Google Scholar
  21. Weick, K. E. (1983). Managerial thought in the context of action. In C. Srivastva (Ed.),The executive mind. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education and Social WorkUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

Personalised recommendations