The essential nature of on-the-job thinking: A phenomenological study of health and fitness professionals engaged in learning experiences.

Muscat, Matthew (2018) The essential nature of on-the-job thinking: A phenomenological study of health and fitness professionals engaged in learning experiences. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

The essential nature of on-the-job thinking: A phenomenological study of health and fitness professionals engaged in learning experiences
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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


For as long as learning is considered to include a cognitive element, then questions
about how, and indeed, why, we think, remain crucial considerations for stakeholders
in education, learning, and professional development. This study explores thinking in
the specific context of on-the-job learning, or in other words, the essential nature of
on-the-job thinking. Research generally portrays on-the-job learning, and the thinking
assumed to take place therein, as an increasingly complex and poorly understood
process. Beginning from a position rooted in health and fitness sector-specific
research, and subsequently venturing into the wider landscape of fundamental theories
in education and learning, a review of literature identifies the tendency for on-the-job
learning to occur predominantly tacitly, as a main contributing factor to an evident
impasse in our attempts to understand or study it further. The review subsequently
traces this tacit-ness problem to its roots in cognitive science, or more specifically, in
dual process theories which depict thinking as an action that is either conscious or
unconscious (tacit). Despite a clear juxtaposition of doing and thinking, and the
apportioning of comparative importance to the two, theories and models in education
and learning seeking to expound the learning process, typically rely on definitions of
thinking that are unclear or inconsistent, and fundamental concepts, typically
originating from cognitive science, that are obscure and/or paradoxical. It is argued,
therefore, that in order to further our understanding of on-the-job learning, a clearer
and more robust definition of thinking is warranted, as an alternative theoretical
foundation for modern education and learning theories, based not solely on
explanations derived from cognitive science, but also on descriptions derived from
more philosophical endeavours, namely, phenomenology. Following a deep and
reflective phenomenological analysis of personal fitness trainers' accounts of their onthe-
job thinking, using modern as well as classical phenomenological methods, the
study aims to, first, uncover a re-conceptualised and less problematic description of
on-the-job thinking, and second, to evaluate the actual implications of such a reconceptualisation.
The description that results, which is also presented in the text as
an analogy, casts light on the centrality of feelings, as well as concepts either general
or pertaining to self, as key influential factors guiding on-the-job learning outcomes,
portrays on-the-job thinking as an integrated activity that is not isolated or separated
from interaction with self, other, or the world, and finally, challenges traditional
conceptualisations of thinking in light of the challenging notions of conscious
awareness and volition. In so doing, the results of this study provide an alternative
view of thinking in the context of on-the-job learning by personal fitness trainers, or
indeed other professionals, from a conceptual/theoretical standpoint, while also
revealing specific features of the phenomenon with immediate and more practical
applications as prospective constituents of existing initiatives or interventions
designed to facilitate and enhance on-the-job learning in the health and fitness sector,
and perhaps further afield.

Keywords:On-the-job learning, Experiential learning, On-the-job thinking, Thinking in action
Subjects:X Education > X200 Research and Study Skills in Education
X Education > X990 Education not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:35714
Deposited On:17 Apr 2019 15:21

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