As Karen Hadley argues ,Situated learning theory positions the ‘community of practice’ as the context in which an individual develops the practices (including values, norms and relationships) and identities appropriate to that community. It simply creates an environment in which learners can simply make useful meaning from real day to day activities such as field trips, playing sports and practice, participating in internship experiences and working in laboratories in science disciplines. According to Karen situated learning suggests creating of an environment where learning is enhanced through relationship formed by students and their instructors and the connecting of prior knowledge with authentic, informal and often unintended contextual learning. This is achieved conceptually by practice, construction of once identity and participation.
Identity. Situated Learning emphasizes on building a socio-cultural dynamic among the communities of practice. It creates an environment where Learning is described as an ‘integral and inseparable aspect of social practice’ which involves construction of identity through changing forms of participation in communities of practice (Karen 2). She argues that Learning is not simply about developing one’s knowledge and practice, it also involves a process of understanding who we are and in which communities of practice we belong and are accepted. This according to Karen ultimately gives us a sense of identity and belonging to community of practice. Identity gives individuals in a community of practice freedom to choose whether to embrace or reject the opportunities to participate fully depending on what they deem fit in resonance to their sense of self belonging to the community.
Another core concepts of situated learning are practice and participation. In situated learning this is achieved through immersing learners into cooperative activities where they are challenged to use their reasoning, critical thinking and kinesthetic abilities in solving real world problems. This is achieved through putting them in a setting with select situations that engages students in a complex, realistic and problem centered activities that supports the desired knowledge to be acquired. Once immersed in problems learners are expected to participate and practice by applying the previously held knowledge and by challenging the opinions and assumptions of other students. Appropriate setting for practice and participation in situated learning include conducting experiments in the library, taking time from school to participate in an internship and practicing with a soccer team in the field.
Lastly, I concur with Karen Handler that situated learning encourages students to tap their prior knowledge and challenge others through discussion, self-reflection, evaluation, and validation of the community’s perspective and opinions.
Handley, K., Sturdy, A., Fincham, R. and Clark, T. “Within and Beyond Communities of Practice: Making Sense of Learning Through Participation, Identity, and Practice”. Journal of Management Studies, May 2006, pp. 641–653.