Academic Dialogue: Towards the Understanding of Professional Learning in Academia

By Jingjing Zhang and Xiongwei Song.

Published by The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 14, 2014 $US5.00

This research attempts to identify different aspects of professional learning arising from academic dialogue and explore how such learning comes about. To achieve this aim, the approach is to identify instances of professional learning in complex and changeable research circumstances. We also aim to focus on the learning that occurs serendipitously in emergent networked research, drawing upon social constructivist theories of learning. In this research, a newly established interdisciplinary centre was chosen as a research context, in which twenty-two staff members’ accounts were collected by using semi-structured interviews. This research found that Incidental (unintentional) learning, as the major form of professional learning in academia, occur naturally within research activities which are not intended to set up for learning but act as a daily routine for most academics. When insights and understandings emerge from academic dialogue, such learning occurs. It is a social process, chiefly involving a continuing dialogue between the individual academic and others. Thus, learning from academic dialogue is considered as the new understanding to emerge from a range of cognitive activities within a social context. Specifically speaking, it is a type of learning where academics draw upon their own experience to construct the meaning of new concepts when engaging in dialogue. The meaning construction of such new concepts is acquired from the emergence of new understanding, the connection made to prior knowledge, the realisation of a gap between two subject domains, the conflict with previous perception, etc.

Keywords: Academic Dialogue, Interaction, Professional Learning, Academia

The International Journal of Adult, Community, and Professional Learning, Volume 20, Issue 4, October 2014, pp.25-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 14, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 845.234KB)).

Dr. Jingjing Zhang

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

Xiongwei Song

Assistant Professor, Chinese Academy of Governance, Beijing, China