Learning History

What is a Learning History about?

Learning history is one type of participatory action research. Learning history methodology (Parent & Béliveau 2007, p.73) addresses the recognition of what has been learned in the past, and creates a platform for participants to generate a new future through dialogs. Unlike other traditional research methods, a learning history is collective and inclusive for participants, and encourages ongoing dialog and heterogeneous interpretations. The dialogues/language captured from the participants tell us what took place, why it took place and how they perceived what took place. From postmodern perspective as I have posted before, language has a communicative role in the sense that through communication people construct their own reality via their relations. So learning history is regarded as a way to produce positive social changes through language. As Parent & Béliveau (2007, p.74) said, “it is as much a process as it is a product .”

How does the learning history work?

First, collect narrative from the participants in the organisation.

Second, write the learning history document. The learning history document consists of 2 parts, a right-hand column for the story quoting from participants’ narrative and left-hand column for the analysis of the inquirer. Taking down and recording participants’ own words in the learning history document makes sure that their own views do count in a concrete way.

Third, disseminate the learning history document and hold a group discussion with participants. Voices and stories can be told freely and without fear in the group discussion.

You may still wonder how  inquirers ‘analyse’ the story and lead the group discussion, do they still hold the power over participants and control the discussion by making comments only from their (inquirers) own perspective? This is the issue of the power of a research that I’ve talked in my previous post. From the postmodernist perspective, researchers do not try to represent the object, and what is true for the group can be only decided collectively by the people in this group. In this sense, instead of leading discussion by themselves, inquirers’ role in the Learning History is only to create a safe environment for everyone in the group to speak up and learn through the process.

If you want to create a Learning History, there are some more articles on Want To Read More.

Since our group performed the learning history method, you may want to see the learning history document that we created.

I also find an interesting website using learning history for carbon reduction, click here to visit this website.

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4 Responses to Learning History

  1. Ted says:

    Thank you for the extra websites. I had just one question; how did you collect narratives from the participants for your learning history?

    • Robin says:

      Well, if we had time enough we would have interviewed every participant. But, unfortunately, we did not have time for that, so we just did an on-line survey, to ask them different questions about the meetings we had before. However, we advise interviews because then you can ask extra questions if an answer is a bit vague etc. Even better would have been to include observations from previous meetings. But of course we did not think about this from the start, so unfortunately we didn’t keep any observation diary!
      You can find this information as well in our post on performance 3

      • Ted says:

        Thank you for the extra explanation. However, I don’t think that it is really different then just interview employees and present your results after combining the different interviews. What is the added value of discussing your results with the people you have interviewed? I mean, if you have done a good interview you results are valid, so a discussion will not lead to different results.

        • Robin says:

          Well, Ted, I see what you mean. But the point is that in a learning history you are conducting a cooperative form of inquiry. This means that you create the research together with the subjects: they are co-inquirers and co-subjects. It is also important in a learning history that you are contributing to the transformative change the subjects go through. You can help them with this process by letting them reflect on the learning history.

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