Mediated Learning Experience in a Community of Practice: A case study
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study describes the attempt to understand the quality of mediation between people within a community of practice. An innovative chefs’ apprenticeship in a dedicated restaurant provides a setting in which to explore what happens when a group of young people are learning to become fully accepted members of a community of practice. The setting, the social enterprise of Fifteen London, is founded on a passionate belief in the learning potential of all individuals, regardless of background. Conducted over a period of five years this ethnographic study tells the stories of the apprentices; the story of the community; and the story of conducting the investigation. A pilot study completed in 2005 revealed that beyond the mediation observed between individuals, apprentices’ felt their experience of the culture of the learning environment had a greater impact. The thesis explores the theoretical implications of these findings. Drawn from a sociocultural perspective, two theoretical frameworks are applied: Mediated Learning Experience (Feuerstein, Miller and Tannenbaum, 1994) concerned with the mediation between people and its effect on human development; and Situated Learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991) concerned with participation in a community of practice. These frameworks were felt to be useful to an analysis which demonstrates that a community of practice can be analysed according to the framework for Mediated Learning Experience. The symbiosis of these two approaches creates a coherent framework for discourse in which to analyse the learning process itself. A description of the community highlights the complexities of learning, and the challenges of attempting to change the course of human development by means of cultural transmission and social enterprise. I conclude that this learning environment serves as a good example of what can be achieved when innovation works hand in hand with moral purpose.
PhD in Education