Self-regulated learning in the workplace: enhancing knowledge flow between novices and experts

Anoush Margaryan, Colin Milligan, Allison Littlejohn

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    This study analyses how individuals in a global company plan and attain learning goals, comparing the individual and collective activities of novices and experts. In particular, it investigates the role of knowledge sharing in enhancing self-regulated learning (SRL) and explores socio-cultural and organisational factors affecting SRL.

    The study is conducted in online communities of practice (Global Networks) within the organisation. These communities are focused around exchanging knowledge, experiences, problems with solutions, and good practice in the core technical and business disciplines of the company. Membership of each network ranges from a few hundred to a couple of thousand professionals in various stages of their career.

    The methodology involves a web-based questionnaire, followed by in-depth semi-structured interviews. Initial findings suggest that:
    • SRL in the workplace is a highly collaborative process that is structured by and deeply integrated within work tasks.
    • Experts draw heavily upon their personal networks of trusted colleagues, rather than the online community, for diagnosing and attaining their learning goals.
    • SRL in the workplace is not a clearly delineated process of discrete stages of planning, implementation and reflection upon learning goals. Instead, planning and implementation were found to be closely intertwined.
    • Experts do not appear to engage in deliberate and systematic self-reflection. In the workplace learning is driven by task and performance demands, therefore there are limited opportunities for systematic self-reflection. Where the opportunity for deliberate reflection does exist, it appears to be closely linked to the immediate work task, rather than being focused on learning per se.

    This study will contribute to theory by extending our understanding of tacit practices of SRL in the workplace. For practice, the outcomes will inform the development of processes and systems that can improve knowledge flow and learning within the organisation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2009


    • self-regulated learning
    • workplace
    • knowledge flows


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