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Engestrom's 2001 Expansive Learning paper

Expansive Learning at Work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization

Aziz Yuldashev

on 13 May 2010

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Transcript of Engestrom's 2001 Expansive Learning paper

Engestrom's 2001 paper on Expansive Learning
Activity system
as unit of analysis
Expansive cycles

Who are
Why do
they learn?
What do
they learn?
How do
they learn?
Matrix for the analysis of expansive learning --
Third generation of Activity Theory --
interacting activity systems
challenges & possibilities of inter-org'l learning
four central questions >>
five principles of activity theory >>

4 questions that any theory of learning must answer --
1- How are the subject of learning defined & located?
2- What pushes them to make the effort to learn?
3- What are the contents & outcomes of learning?
4- What are the key processes of learning?
Activity theory summarized in 5 principles --

1- The prime unit of analysis -- a collective, artifact-mediated & object-oriented activity system
individual & group actions -- understandable only when interpreted in terms of entire activity systems
2- The multi-voicedness of activity systems
a community of multiple points of view, traditions, interests
3- Historicity
helps understand problems and potentials of any activity system
4- Contradictions -- sources of change & development
historically accumulating structural tensions within & between activity systems
5- Expansive transformations
a full cycle of expansive transformation -- a collective journey through the ZPD of the activity
the ZPD of the activity --
"It is the distance between the present everyday actions of the individuals & the historically new form of the societal activity that can be collectively generated as a solution to the double bind potentially embedded in the everyday actions."

-- Engestrom, 1987, p. 174
the learning challenge in children’s health care in Helsinki
Expansive Learning >> a new approach --

the problem -- knowledge/skill to be acquired is stable & well defined
learning in work organizations -- people are always learning smth NOT stable, NOT well-defined, NOT understood ahead of time.
Gregory Bateson’s (1972) theory of learning -- three levels >>
Learning III -- a person/group radically questions the sense and meaning of the context --> begins to construct a wider alternative context.
-- collective endeavor
-- rare
-- dangerous
Bateson’s proposal >> systematic framework =
= Theory of Expansive Learning
Interconnected activity systems hospital, health center, patient's family
Voices of specialized hospital care, general primary care and lay home care
Historically emerging pressures: patients move between primary care and hospitals
Contradictions between new object and available tools and rules in the three activity systems
A new pattern of activity: knotworking based on the instrumentality of care agreement
Historical layering and co-existence of old and new concepts: pathways and care agreement
Struggle between old and new concepts: critical pathway vs care agreement
Expansion of the object from visit to trajectory: from doctor-patient dyad to network of care
Dialogue and debate between positions and voices, focused on a vital object
Contradictions converted from need state to double bind to resistance to realignment
Learning actions from questioning to analysis, modeling, examining, implementing, reflecting...
Who are
Why do they
What do they
How do they
Activity system as unit of analysis
Expansive cycles
Primary contradiction need state
1. Questioning
Secondary contradictions
double bind
2a. Historical analysis
2b. Actual-empirical analysis
3. Modeling the new solution
Tertiary contradiction resistance
5. Implementing the new model
Quarternary contradictions realignment with neighbors
6. Reflection on the process
7. Consolidating the new practice
4. New model
The cycle of expansive learning: strategic learning actions & corresponding contradictions
Project highlights --

Method: Boundary Crossing Laboratory
60 invited representatives (physicians, nurses, other staff, & management from primary care health centers and hospitals)
10 3-hour sessions (last one mid-February 1998)
Participants viewed and discussed patient cases aimed to show lack of coordination and communication between different care providers in the area.
Learning Challenge: joint responsibility & collaboration betw parents and practitioners from caregiver org-ns -- to plan and monitor the child's trajectory of care.
-- Conclusion
learning and development processes --
horizontal/sideways vs vertical
concept formation --

'critical pathways' >> multiple illnesses and fragmented care >> a series of alternative conceptualizations -- automatic feedback > care responsibility negotiation > care agreement

since 1998 -- with practice, 'care agreement' challenged & transformed again in new horizontal moves.
History of the activity systems --

Health Center

Care relationships:
- key conceptual tool for documenting and planning long-term interactions with a patient
- responsibility for the patient is suspended when the patient enters a hospital

Children's hospital

Critical pathways:
- give normative sequence of procedures for dealing with a given disease or diagnosis
- Do not help with unclear and multiple diagnoses
Problems in the interaction between these activity systems:

Care relationships & critical pathways are
solutions to particular historical sets of contradictions
linear and temporal constructions of the object

There is a need to address the horizontal and socio-spatial relations and interactions between care providers from different institutions.

Contradiction between the object of patients moving between primary and hospital care and:

the rule of cost-efficiency
the recently established tools (care relationships & critical pathways)
Full transcript