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Knowing Practice: Vocational Thresholds for GPs, Carpenters, and Engineering Technicians Summary Report

Karen Vaughan, Linda Bonne and Jan Eyre
"For days and days, you make out only the fragments of what to do. And then one day you’ve got the thing whole. Conscious learning becomes unconscious knowledge, and you cannot say precisely how". (Atul Gawande in Complications, 2002, p. 21)
Knowing Practice is a study of practice-based learning (apprenticeship or vocational immersion). It involved observations and interviews with 41 GP registrars, carpentry apprentices, and engineering technician cadets, and 34 of their workplace-based mentors, advisors, and teachers. 
To better understand people's most significant learning experiences, we developed the idea of "vocational thresholds". These are transformational learning experiences that show learner-practitioners the big picture of their field of practice and their role in it. Once someone has crossed a vocational threshold, they see their work and its purpose in a new light. They integrate what they know, what they can do, and - importantly -how they are as practitioners. 

The summary includes suggestions about how employers, workplace mentors and educators, and tertiary institution-based educators can identify and work with them to improve practitioner development.

This project was done in partnership with Ako Aotearoa.

Knowing Practice
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Research summary
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Karen Vaughan
Linda Bonne
Jan Eyre