Work based learning

The concept of work-based learning can be approached from different perspectives (Fenwick, 2008). Nisbet et al. (2013) define work based learning as informal learning that occurs inside the work community in the interaction between employees. Work-based learning requires participation in work processes, collaborating with colleagues, taking challenging tasks and working with customers. Thus, learning occurs as a by-product of working (Eraut, 2007.).


Work-based learning can also include formal learning (Choi and Jacobs, 2011). For example, universities and other educational institutes can offer curriculums to organisations that the employees can carry out alongside their work without qualifications. This kind of learning can also be defined as a form of work-based learning, in which case the employee has responsibility to set the learning objectives, look for learning situations, search knowledge, and evaluate and reflect on their own learning (Stanley and Simmons, 2011.). The aim of this kind of work-based learning curriculum is to encourage employees to study independently and to take responsibility for their own learning and the continuous development of their professional skills and know-how (Chapman, 2006). In this review, work-based learning is defined as informal learning that occurs inside the work community in the interaction between employees by participation.


The traditional understanding of learning is that knowledge is offered to the employees without them actively seeking and processing that knowledge themselves (Jensen, 2007; Williams, 2010). However, knowledge never passes on from one person to another as it is; the new knowledge is always constructed via the thinking processes of the individual. The person’s preconceived assumptions and previous knowledge – as well as the prevailing culture – have an effect on this process of shaping knowledge (Billett, 2008.). People try to understand their experiences and give meanings to them. Because the experiences affect what kind of significance a person gives to their learning and professional development (MacKeracher, 2004), it is important to describe experiences of work-based learning by care worker staff.

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