Thursday, 10 February 2011

Exercise: Mapping the Knowledge of Professional Practice

The previous entry on my blog shows the activities we undertook at the Campus Session. This blog is looking at the first activity - indeed the one which we spent the greatest time on. In order to get started we had a general discussion about our understanding of professional practice - what do we need to know in order to be a professional practitioner. Paula had already e-mailed everyone a reading by Eraut which was a useful platform for this discussion and I had passed around an aide memoir of the key points in the article.

We recognised that there is discrete knowledge which is unique to our respective professions and we acknowledged the difference between "Knowing that" (hard knowledge) and "Knowing how" (skill). Some of our knowledge and skills in absolutely bound up in our profession and other knowledge is generic and transferable.

We then considered the distinction between competency and capability - Eraut's article suggests that the first is yes/no outcome (you either can or cannot ride a bicycle). Capability, on the other hand can be graded into various levels of competency. Self reflection can indicate gaps in our knowledge in order that we are professionally proficient and suggest topics that we would like to do an inquiry on in order to enhance our professional knowledge.

After this discussion there were four groups of professional practitioners identified:

  • Performers
  • Arts Managers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Dance Teachers

Each group thought carefully about what they needed to know and represented this graphically. Looking at them can suggest areas for development in your own professional practice or should inspire you to do the exercise yourself.

The Arts Managers drawing above used building blocks with generic skills / knowledge on the base line building up to professional specific knowledge at the top. The knowledge in the top block which is "specialised" does fit in with Schon's proposal of the four facets of professional knowledge - for instance, this knowledge would not necessarily be useful to the Graphic Designers.

The Graphic Designers chose to represent their professional knowledge on a ladder with five key stages indicated. This diagram indicates overwhelmingly that a process is being described. A good question to ask of this representation is that if graphic design was not written on the page would we know what professional knowledge is being represented here?

The Performers representation explosively demonstrates the strands and areas of knowledge required for the profession. Some of the entries invite links to be drawn between entities which could suggest inquiry topics or questions to investigate further. For instance there is a line between technical ability and castability which could suggest an inquiry topic.

The Dance Teachers went beyond the generic and profession specific and introduced transdisciplinary knowledge from other subject domains e.g. Psychology, Business and Finance.

While we all recognised the "knowing that" and "Knowing how" as alluded to by Eraut, Mark Iles introduced the notion of "knowing who" .....

While all this work was being produced, Adesola worked quietly on a graph which she presented at the end of the exercise.
The Y axis (vertictal) shows knowledge while the X axis (horizontal) indicates the practitioner. She explained that as a beginner we set out with a what we beleive is a great deal of knowledge and skill and as our knowledge develops towards an advanced stage we regcognise that there is more unknown than known. This is when we get to the point of where we "just know" or could we call this enlightenment.

This exercise was useful in that it got us thinking about our professional practice - the "discipline" of it, what we need to know both "that" and "how" and what we have yet to know. Reflecting on this activity should stimulate a question in your mind. Which should lead to another question and so on. You are asked to blog about these questions as you can see from the first task set out in the Module Handbook.


  1. It's really great to see such detailed and well presented ideas for those that miss a campus session - definitely very helpful for those working away etc to feel clued up. I'd be really grateful if you could do something similar for those of us on the 3002 module who were not able to attend this week.

  2. Hi Stephanie - I was not at the substantive part of the campus session for those doing 3002 however you can check an earlier post on my blog for the same session last semester

    Please check Paula's blog and others in your cohort - and feel free to ask them if you missed anything important.

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