IntroductionLearning has traditionally been associated with formal education and work environments. However,there is incre...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                      2Arts Asia &others        The mai...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                 3proceduralisation and automacity are ...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                   4Act-R limitations and implicationsT...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                               5Figure 1. The duality of participation ...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                               6             • Phase 2: Online communic...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                7Table 3Purpose and Activities on SARS ...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                               8Table 3Examples of SARS Players who hav...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                 9participation in its historical reali...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                         10Table 4Periphery Archetypes,...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                11umpiring duties and was supposed to b...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                 12         According to Lave (1990), f...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                                 13makes for imperfect ...
REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES                                                              14       ...
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Sars paper (30 nov 2012)

  1. 1. IntroductionLearning has traditionally been associated with formal education and work environments. However,there is increased research interest in how learning takes place in informal cultures because theyprovide opportunities to understand identity formation, social interaction and independent learning insustainable ways and in its implications on designing learning environments (Aittola, 2000). The first partof this paper looks at a 19-year-old social softball community and discusses the strengths and limitationsof using Anderson’s Adaptive Character of Thought –Rational (Act-R) and Lave’s Situated LearningTheory to understand learning in a sustained way in this community. It then proposes someimprovements for this learning community and suggests principles which may be applicable to otherlearning communities. BackgroundThe case study involves a sustained, recreational softball community which has played the game everySaturday afternoon at the National University of Singapore (NUS) sports field for about 19 years. Callingthemselves the Saturday Afternoon Recreational Softball team (SARS), the group attracts between 15 to28 softball players from different age groups, nationalities, occupations and genders to play ‘pick-up’games weekly. Table 1 shows the profile of the members of the community. It was initially formed forUnited States (U.S.) exchange students from NUS and the U.S. Education Information Center by a historyprofessor, Daniel Crosswell, in 1993 who has since relocated back to the U.S. By 1995, more local playersjoined as peripheral ‘neophytes’ (Crosswell, 2012) and the movement grew to become morecosmopolitan with even interested bystanders invited to play. Before long, these social softball sessionsbecame a weekly affair and became integrated with the social activities and identities of those whoformed the community.Table 1Description of MembersSocial Age Gender Country of birth No. of active Occupationsconnections to Range participantsSARS (at least once every two months)NUS teaching 35 – 55 Male USA, Australia, 4 Professors in higherstaff & family years Britain , Canada educationmembersEx-NUS students 26 – 42 Male and Singapore, 7 Teachers, grad years female Malaysia. students, research assistants,Current NUS 18-25 Male and Singapore, 7 Studentsstudents years female Malaysia, Korea, China.Ex-Montfort boys 24 – 32 Male and Singapore 4 Students, HR,and friends years female banking, sales, business, F&B, nursing, etcNew York 30 – 52 Male and USA, Puerto Rico, 4 Musician, IT,University Tisch years female Canada, Singapore photographer,School of the banking, teacher
  2. 2. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 2Arts Asia &others The main source of data collection was derived from one of the researcher’s involvementin the group since 1994. To triangulate the information, email correspondence was carried outwith Crosswell and informal interviews with SARs members Other sources of data informationcame from their blog and social media which tracked the origins, development and weeklyscores, photos and comments from the group. Act-R TheoryAnderson (1990) proposed that knowledge is initially stored in declarative form as facts, images andsounds and is interpreted by using general procedures towards more automatic processes whichbecome procedural. According to Act-R theory, knowledge compilation comprised of threedistinguishable stages of expertise for skill learning (Anderson 1990). a. The cognitive stage takes place when learners commit to memory a set of facts relevant to the skill which increasingly become proceduralised through practice. This stage is prone to errors because declarative knowledge about the task process may be incomplete or incorrect. It involves conscious manipulation of declarative representations of the method for performing a task and as a result, tends to be slow and halting in nature, and often takes verbalized forms. b. An associative stage where declarative knowledge is used together with heuristics and a means- to-end analysis to perform tasks. After continuous repetition, proceduralisation takes place and uses the repetition of contexts to the action, creating procedural knowledge which takes the form of ‘if-then’ production rules and chunk matching. This removes unnecessary and useless search paths related to active declarative knowledge. c. The autonomous stage occurs where the tuning of production rules and the composition process is aimed at reflecting the process by optimization of the task and require few attentional resources (Anderson, 1993; Anderson, 2007)Because Act-R theory looks at cognition as an information process which is derived from the interactionsof a visual module, a problem state module, a control and goal module, a declarative module and amanual module that programs manual response (Anderson, 2007), it was felt that such lenses could beused to analyse how beginners learn basic fundamental skills for batting a ball, catching a groundball orfly ball, processes which involve proceduralisation and automacity associated with muscle memory. Asthe learner moves towards expert status, pattern learning of particular game patterns and situationscould also form a way to study tactical learning associated with how Act-R theory is used to studychessboard moves. (Anderson, 1990).Act-R and batting Most beginning players from SARS find hitting a complex skill because it involveshitting a moving ball travelling at about 16 kilometers an hour with a 5.7cm in diameter bat. Thisgives you less between two to three seconds to judge if it is within your hit zone. Expert hitters inmajor league baseball who hit .300 or three-out of-ten at-bats are considered competent. As such,
  3. 3. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 3proceduralisation and automacity are important processes in the act of hitting a ball (Lebiere,Salvucci, Gray & West, 2003). Explicit instruction and ‘batting practice’ is therefore carried outby certain players to accelerate learning of this skill and corresponds to the Act-R theory’s notionof improving ‘speed and accuracy’ through ‘tuning’ (Anderson, 1990). This explains why someplayers from the SARS community take batting practice before and after the game to hone theirbatting skills. Players with a cricket or golfing background also usually take a relatively shorttime learning how to spray the ball across different parts of the field because this positivetransfer is related to Act-R theory’s associative stage of skill acquisition where learners haveadvanced to the point where they can ‘associate’ the softball hitting technique as a similar patternto cricket or golf. According to Anderson’s Power Law (Anderson, 1990), learning can have high levels ofretention and can be maintained over years with little or no retention loss. This explains whyContrary, a Canadian who had not played softball in two years went 4 for 5 and was able to putthe ball in play after just a couple of at-bats in October 2012. This principle also explains whythose who are familiar with the ‘rules’ and situations of the game seldom make base-runningerrors or ‘mental fielding errors1’ even though they may not have played in years (Of course,depending on their level of proficiency attained). According to Anderson (1990), performanceof a skill improves as a power function of practice and has modest declines over long retentionintervals. Hitting to the opposite field is an unnatural but very valuable skill for baseball andsoftball. As such, some players from SARS team who are proficient in opposite-field battingreported that at the initial learning stage, they were coached to verbalize their thoughts to haveexecutive control of their bodily functions by saying aloud, “Keep your head down, eye on theball, drill it the other way”. Some players were trained using various drills and practices whichinvolved using a batting tee and side flips to isolate functions linked to the visual, goal andmanual modules elucidated in Anderson’s Act-R information processing approach (Anderson,2007).Act-R and game situations Act-R’s procedural system of ‘if-then’ rules is also very applicable to game situations. Atan informal discussion on game situations over drinks one day, professor at NUS shared thatexperienced players compute the following questions in their head before a fielding play is made,“What’s the score? What inning is it? Who and where are the runners? Who’s the batter? What’sthe pitcher throwing? Where are the outfielders? Who’s the catcher? Where do I hit it? These ‘if-then’ rules operate in very complex ways for an expert player to decide where he throws the ballafter fielding it. This is similar to chessboard expert patterns where the variables represent‘recognisable chunks in problems’ which are ‘patterns of elements that repeat over problems’and represent a tactical form of learning (Anderson, 1990, p. 298). Baseball coaches andaficionadi call such skills ‘fundamentals’ and players improve such skills when there is isolatedand explicit practice on these game situations and problems. The game rules and specificsituation is cognitive, not necessarily declarative, but its flawless execution relies onproceduralisation and automacity.
  4. 4. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 4Act-R limitations and implicationsThere are however aspects of Act-R theory which do not fit with SARS. Even though automacityand proceduralisation are important game skills, procedural knowledge does not necessarily haveits origins and co-exist from declarative knowledge. Several players like Gino, an internationalstudent from China at NUS, was a very competent in the field without naming the different kindsof batting stance or hitting philosophies associated with the likes of Walt Hriniak, Ted Williamsor Tony Gwynn2 as a philosophy. Neither does it explain why this community has sustaineditself for such a long time. In retrospect, Act-R Theory is useful in understanding cognitive acquisition of objectiveknowledge and skill. It suggests explicit skill training sessions and rehearsed game situations toimprove automacity and proceduralisation associated with individual skill improvement.However, Act-R fails to view learning as contextualised in group action and practice and as suchfails to link it closely with identity formation, intrinsic motivation and the sustained nature of theSARS community. Situated Learning Because of Act-R Theory’s limitations, we will pursue the premise that skill learningamong SARS members is a situated activity which involves not only specific skills learnt by theplayers but also more importantly, the experience of meaning and identity formation in theplayers participating in SARS (Lave & Wenger, 1991). In such situations, the way the playersget involved and take part in the community of practice is influenced by the actual physical andsocial organisation of the activity and explains how SARS members learn through participationin specific social practices (eg. skill learning), and how the they ‘stay there’ (Holt and Mitchell,2006). According to the social theory of learning, learning takes place in a social context, or tobe more specific, in a community of practice comprised of ‘a set of relations among persons,activity, and world, over time and in relation with other tangential and overlapping communitiesof practice’ (Lave and Wenger 1991, p. 98; Wenger 1998). Knowing and learning is situated inactivities and trajectories of apprentices whose new skills are developed (Lave, 1991). Learningis integrated into the generative social practice in the lived world and not an independentreifiable process that just happen to be located somewhere. (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger,1998; Contu & Willmott, 2003). According to Wenger (1998), participation and reification arecomplementary in learning as a community. Participation, in time to come, leads to theproduction of artifacts such as documents to reify certain aspects of practice in a community (seeFigure 1). An example of this happening in SARS would be the blog that was set up to try todocument its historical beginnings and profile its core members. In this way, learning is aprocess of deconstruction and reconstruction as well as a participatory process, rather than themere acquisition of knowledge, skills or abilities (Hodkinson & Hodkinson, 2004).
  5. 5. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 5Figure 1. The duality of participation and reification (Wenger, 1998, p. 63).Wenger (1998) also identifies the main components of communities of practice as: a. A shared area of interest; b. A shared practice; and c. An engagement in discussion and activities that allows members to share knowledge with one another.Shared interest and practice as mediated space for skill development Shared interest and practice is evident in SARS because of the routinisation andregularity of how members practice learning in the community. Even after the ‘pick-up’ gamesare concluded, players continue with batting and fielding practice for an hour on their own beforeleaving the field. This mediated and regular space allows some members to periodically formtheir own teams as ‘temporal’ communities to participate in SARS games and on occasion, localsoftball tournaments. Some examples of local tournaments include the Softball Mania Co-edTournament (2011 and 2012), Singapore Baseball and Softball Association (SBSA) Slow PithCarnival (2012) and the Montfort Secondary Invitation Tournament (2006).This explains how shared interest and practice provide mediated ‘practice opportunities’ and‘space’ for individual skill and social capital to form tournament-based teams (Bourdieu &Wacquat, 1992).Forms of engagement in discussion and sharing knowledge According to Lave (1990), learning derives from the socially and culturally structuredworld which is situated in the historical development of ongoing activity. An analysis of howSARS share game knowledge and build social relations is highlighted in two phases whichoverlap each other. • Phase 1: Face-to-face routine social interactions after games over dinner and drinks (1993-2012)
  6. 6. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 6 • Phase 2: Online communication through social media platforms (2002 – 2012). In the first phase, an important postgame ritual was to gather at the University Facultylounge for dinner and drinks where informal talk about how the game was played, watchingvideos of members at bat (2004-2005) and talking about the week’s major league baseballhighlights or other matters provided for informal forms of learning. This social and culturalactivity-based informal learning system fits in with how communities of practice are defined as agroup of individuals who foster individual growth through collaborative relationships andactivities with its members having similar goals, meaning and common histories, located withina larger system (Barab & Duffy, 2000; Buysse, Sparkman & Wesley, 2003). In the second phase, advances in the communication technologies led to the expansion oflearning into social media platforms. The postings in the group page may summarised as atypology of speech acts as shown in Table 2 (Searle, 1969; Carr, Shrock and Dauterman, 2012).Social media was also used for historical recall or moment making, discussion, sharing ofknowledge and social purposes, even across geographical boundaries, as shown in Table 3.Table 2Coding Scheme for Analysing Speech Acts and Quotations in Facebook messagesSpeech Act Properties of Speech Act Example (s)Assertive Statement of fact, getting The right lesson to take away from Rule viewer to form a belief 6.06 is that the batter’s box isn’t a safety zone. Eric was out!Directive Sender gets receiver to do And definitely want Mingwoo back every something week – as long as he is playing softball!Commisive Sender commits himself to do There’s a tournament next week. Let’s something meet at the field and move to west coast park if necessary.Expressive Sender expresses feeling Had a great return to the ball diamond. towards receiver Thanks to all the old-timers who showed up.
  7. 7. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 7Table 3Purpose and Activities on SARS FacebookPurpose Activity exampleHistorical recall Scores, line-ups, playoff-the-day and discussion about the game.Discussion Discussion of game rules and interpretation of controversial game rules. Resolution over such rules as a ‘safety zone’ to avoid player injuries.Sharing Snippets and photographs of SARS player at-bats and fielding. Sharing of baseball news and highlightsSocial Group photographs, photographs of social activities (Eg. barbecues, bowling events, overseas SARS trips, barbecues. Tagging of names, likes and dislikes functions. According to Lave and Wenger (1991), a community of practice moves beyond a‘primordial culture-sharing entity’ (p. 98) with participants having different viewpoints (Cox,2004). This is seen in social media debates over rule interpretations even after the game was overfor several days. . P : We were discussing Eric’s play. I have put the MLB rules here, and it seems that there is NO discussion of judgement on such a play or even of intent. The batter does not have to make any effort to get out of the way. Danger : Who are you fooling? There is no batter’s box drawn in our game. Ke : I face a dilemma. I don’t want people to know that I spend more than five minutes researching this. The right lesson to take away from Rule 6.06 is that the batter’s box isn’t a safety zone. But rule 7/09 is relevant too. “It is interference by a batter or a runner.” So, a batter would have to get out of the way. Eric was out, QED.Beyond Socially Visible Boundaries Lave and Wenger (1991) argues that community is loosely defined and does notnecessarily imply co-presence and a well-defined, identifiable group with socially visibleboundaries. Instead, it is ‘participation in an activity system’ with participants ‘sharingunderstandings concerning what they are doing both in the past and present which adds meaningto the participants’ lives and for their communities’ (p.98) (Cox, 2004). This is seen in past coremembers of SARS who have left Singapore geographically but who at times, purposefully travelto Singapore at least once in four years to participate in Saturday Softball as shown in Table 3. These individuals demonstrate that learning about and learning to be are intertwined withpractice, which in turn shapes participant dispositions, belief systems and identity (Bruner, 1986,1996).
  8. 8. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 8Table 3Examples of SARS Players who have returned Every Four YearsMember Place of origin Current residenceContrary Saskatoon, Canada Butuan, Mindanao, PhilippinesJoyce Chicago, Illinois Washington DCRube Donnellson,, Illinois Houston, TexasThe Generalissimo Venezuela VenezuelaKitty Kyle Kansas City, Kansas AfghanistanDaniel Crosswell St Catharine’s, Ontario Columbus, GeorgiaLegitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP) Another important aspect of situated learning is distinguishing between ‘legitimateperipheral participation’ and ‘full participation’, which implies power differences amongmembers (Lave and Wenger, 1991). In LPP, newcomers to a community of practice at firstparticipate on the periphery and engage in minimal conversations through which they learn abouthow the community is organised. With time, their participation increases and they become morecentral to the community of practice (Lave, 1991; Huzzard, 2004). This process sustains andregenerates the community with periphery members becoming core participants. By engaging inmeaningful activities, periphery members make ongoing contributions, whether in direct actionsor in contributing to the understanding of the actions and ideas of others so that there is mutualappropriation of ideas and learning. The changing cast of SARS core players attests to this because current NUS students andrecent graduates increasingly make up the bulk of the members of the SARS team. Withoutthem, there would be insufficient players to keep SARS going. However, among current players,not all learners move from peripheral to full participation (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Coremembers also move to the periphery for a variety of reasons – geographical distance, family orcareer commitments over different life-stages, changing members and as a result being absentfrom SARS for so long, or social and cultural dissonance when they do return.Situated Learning limitations and implications One issue involved in situated learning theory involves the questions of ‘Who isperceived as legitimately belonging?’ and ‘Who has influence?’ LPP highlights the power-invested process of bestowing a degree of legitimacy upon newcomers as a normal condition ofparticipation in the learning process but ‘hegemony over resources for learning and alienationfrom full participation are inherent in the shaping of the legitimacy and peripherality of
  9. 9. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 9participation in its historical realisations’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 42; Contu & Willmott,2003). Lave and Wenger (1991) stated that LPP is both ‘a source of power or powerlessness, inaffording or preventing articulation and interchange among communities of practice’ (p. 36). .Atits worst, core members construct discourses and impose them on the group through individualsense-making, and this risks removing the possibility of alternative interpretations or options forconsideration and action which are critical for generativity (Huzzard, 2004). According to Bourdieu (1984), power is culturally and symbolically re-legitimisedthrough a habitus. In the SARS community, this habitus involves participation in post-gamerituals, online involvement and SARS social activities which develops and maintains long termcommunity memory and identity but at the same time, embeds habitus which periphery memberscan sometimes feel culturally uncomfortable with. As a result, core members enjoy certain statuswithin the community and evident from their heightened level of online discussion engagementand participation in social activities. Such periphery-core inequalities can also slowly becomeentrenched in how teams are formed and reported in social media: Aug 25 :Young ‘uns won by 11-10 in bottom of 9. Oldies went out to early lead but age caught up with them. Oct 6 :Younguns + Lloyd & Kids beat the Oldies (again). 17-13. This trend can over prolonged periods, result in a community identifying itself toostrongly with just its core, making it susceptible to group-think, closed forms of thinking andstagnation, possibly community fissure, factionalization and taken to extremes, fragmentation. Another major drawback of SARS and situational learning is that it takes for granted thatexisting SARS processes makes for effective individual learning. It also assumes that peripheryparticipants have the same kinds of needs as shown in Table 4. Closer analysis shows that SARSas a community can be inefficient and unresponsive to the peripheral individual needs in terms ofskill development for beginning players and integrating periphery players who may have adifferent culture or habitus. SARS also lack formal induction, curriculum or codified rulesbecause membership only entails full engagement in the game for the whole 9 innings everySaturday. Its simplicity is also its weakness as a learning community.
  10. 10. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 10Table 4Periphery Archetypes, needs and SARS Community ProcessesPeriphery archetype Needs SARS community Challenges process/responseBeginner player Basic skills Regular games, pre-game and Knowing someone who is post-game practice/ already in the community who will work with you at an individual level.Novice player Socialisation Regular games, post-game Comfort level with habitus of rituals, online involvement. SARS communityEx-core player Socialisation Regular games, post game Meeting familiar SARS ex- rituals, online contact core players In summary, situated learning deals with learners as a social and ‘whole’ person wherelearning is a reconstructive and participatory process, unlike Act-R which focuses is on theindividual acquisition of knowledge, skills or abilities (Hodkinson & Hodkinson, 2004). It is auseful learning ‘lens’ for understanding how communities of practice are sustained and takesplace in ‘situatedness’. However, situated learning also involves core participants having‘hegemony over resources for learning’ within ‘unequal relations of power’ which requires anunderstanding of how practices are embedded in history and language (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p.42). Situated learning is also limited in its response and effectiveness in improving the individualskills of players and especially for beginner players who have little knowledge of the game. Discussion and Recommendations Based on the strengths and limitations which Act-R and situated learning theoriespresent, this portion proposes some improvements to be made to make learning more effectiveand meaningful for the members in SARS and suggests principles which may be applicable toother learning communities.Role of Tournaments A key feature of putting learning ideas into practice is to adapt them to localcircumstances and to include the people for whom the programs are designed for, as contributorsin the planning as well as implementation of the programs (Rogoff, 2011). Friendly tournamentshave a means to keep SARS teams cohesive as a unit, yet sensitive and attuned to the self-esteemneeds of periphery players. The last tournament in which SARS participated as a unified team was in 2006. Thistournament was organised based on a co-sharing of responsibilities principle. It was acommunity event with SARS sending in two teams (One team comprising of core players andanother a mixed team of NTU/NUS students) and three secondary school teams (comprised ofcoaches, parents, students and teachers). The school teams played with a10-0 score advantagebecause they were not regular expert players. The event also involved the sharing of costs and
  11. 11. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 11umpiring duties and was supposed to be celebrated with a barbecue in the evening. This eventmade the SARS team train hard as a team to hone individual and game situation ‘fundamentals’which Act-R proceduralisation and automacity highlights. Friendly tournaments as such, have acohesive impact and yet keep SARS core participants sensitive and attuned to the self-esteemneeds of others. Communities of Practice also exist within broader community system with their ownhistorical development (Wenger, 1998) and SARS is not an exception. During the 2011 and 2012tournaments, such teams as the ‘Headhunters’, ‘Dark Side’ and ‘LucasFilms’ are other suchgroups which exist. Routine participation in local tournaments which bring these like-mindedcommunities together in friendly competition is also a means to redress the inefficient andindividualized learning which is needed for SARS as a community of learners.Cultural Practices as Learning Strategies SARS habitus developed in the trajectory it has is because its social origins lay in givinga sense of familiarity, belonging and identity for those who had migrated or lived abroad asexpatriates or international students. As a sport with western origins, it is dominated by whiteAnglo-Saxon and the occasional Latin American core participant rather than Asians. Its originsand resultant habitus as such, explain why few Asians participate in the post-game rituals andsocial activities of the SARS community. There are, however, several core participants who have ‘agency’ as ‘boundary objects’because they have social capital as core SARS players with social networks which extend toperipheral participants. According to Bandura (1989), this agency is a ‘temporally embeddedprocess of social engagement which is shaped and informed by the past, oriented throughevaluation of present towards future possibilities’. By identifying boundary core participants asimportant social nodal points for coordinating and routinising exchanges across boundaries(between SARS players) and co-organising joint activities, it creates multiple opportunities forboundary crossings, and facilitate dialogical collaborative learning and participation (Akkerman& Baker, 2011). One practical example involves an Asian core member’s use of whatsapp socialnetworking device to keep both periphery and core members informed on which members arecoming for games. Its discourse also involves comments on plays in the field, upcoming eventsor even just routine ‘social talk’. It is also a means through which ex-core players or peripheralmembers can stay keep connected to the SARS community. On the field, as is usually already embedded as a practice, attention is also placed onencouraging, cheering and praising beginner and peripheral players as a means to help them findhidden richer and layered aspects of the game and to put them in the driver’s seat of their ownlearning. It is also means to help them overcome angst associated with beginner learning andhelps build the social connectivity needed for pre-game or post-game practice.Periphery to Core Participation
  12. 12. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 12 According to Lave (1990), forming an identity with the community involves newcomersbringing with them their own experience of practice and learning which entails findingequilibrium between self and the community. How do you bring people from periphery to coremore effectively and efficiently? When a newcomer enters a community, it is mostly competencethat is pulling the experience along, until the learner’s experience reflects the competence of thecommunity (Wenger, 1998). Conversely, a new experience can also ‘pull a community’scompetence along’ because when a newcomer brings in new elements into practice, it has tonegotiate whether the community will embrace their contribution as a new element ofcompetence or reject it. One way of encouraging the community to embrace such contributionswould be to provide the opportunity for newcomers to share their competence and beliefs withthe community through shared team building activities embedded in the learning of the skills intournament-based situations. These could involve the use of artifacts such as the use of SKLZpractice nets3, popup playback trainers4 and station-based tournament training.Accountability and Self-directed Learning How does one be accountable for one’s learning? How do you to instill a form of self-directed learning for individuals in the community? Anderson’s (1980) idea that ‘perfect practicemakes perfect’ would help an individual move from novice to an expert learner. Tournamentswould provide the context for discipline and mandated drills and help an individual practise withcontemplation and strife for ‘mindful practic’e. After such tournament games, a social processwhich involves analysing or discussing how one played would also help the player to be mindfulof learning points and move his player capacity beyond his current levels. Meaningful learning insocial contexts requires both participation and reification to be in a dynamic interplay (Wenger,1998).Outreach to More People Learning as the production of practice creates divisive boundaries because sharing acommon history of learning ends in distinguishing those who were involved from those whowere not and not because members of the community are trying to isolate others (Wenger, 1998).How do you expand the community to reach out to more people? Boundaries of practice are notgeographical and not necessarily visible or explicit (Wenger, 1998). Leveraging on technology,media, social nodal points and boundary core players are means to promote this community byextending the boundaries of practice and also more periphery participants to the core so that thecommunity can have generativity. Reflection and Conclusion Act-R and situated learning theories have limitations in their application to the SARScommunity experience. One limitation of the situated learning theory, in particular LLP, is that itdoes not effectively explain the learning of more experienced members in the community as theymove from core to periphery (Lave & Wenger, 1991). In other words, do experienced membersget displaced as more newcomers move from peripheral to core? (Hodkinson & Hodkinson,2004). A limitation of the Act-R theory would be that it does not take into account what skillsindividuals need to practise in order to realize their learning goals given that ‘imperfect practice
  13. 13. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 13makes for imperfect skills’. Act-R theory assumes that so long as an individual practices, he orshe will be practising the right skills to reach their learning goals. If one is to practise the wrongskills and form bad habits, then it would be ‘practice’ disabling and limiting effective skilldevelopment. Learning can be viewed as a process of realignment between socially defined competenceand personal experience. This process can cause positive identification or dissonant identificationwithin the community. The focus on identity adds a human dimension to the notion of practice. Itis not just about individual learning techniques and dispositions. According to Wenger (1998),learning involves becoming. For him, knowledge and the knower are not separated. Only withthis perspective can practice be enabling. In this way, gaining a competence is transformed intobecoming someone for whom the competence is a meaningful way of living in the world. Thehistory of practice, the importance of what drives the community, the relationships that shape it,and the identities of members in the community all provide resources for learning – both fornewcomers and oldtimers alike (Wenger, 1998). ReferencesAittola, T. (2000). Possibilities of informal learning inside and outside the school. In P. Alheit, J. Beck,E. Kammler, R. Taylor, & S. Olesen (Eds.), Lifelong learning inside and outside schools. Roskilde, Denmark: Roskilde University.Akkerman, S. F. & Bakker, A. (2011). Boundary crossing and boundary objects. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 132-169.Anderson, J. R. (1990). Cognitive psychology and its implications (3rd ed.). New York: Freeman.Anderson, J. R. (1993). Rules of the mind. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Anderson, J. R. (2007). Using brain imaging to guide the development of a cognitive architecture. In W. D. Gray (Ed.), Integrated models of cognitive systems. New York: Oxford University Press.Bandura, A. (1989). Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory. American Psychologist, 44(9), 1175-1184.Barab, S. A., & Duffy, T. M. (2000). From practice fields to communities of practice. In D. H. Jonassen & S. M. Land (Eds.), Theoretical foundations of learning environments. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. London: Routledge.Bourdieu, P., & Loïc, J. D. Wacquant. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago and London: University of Chicago PressBruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Bruner, J. (1996). The culture of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University PressBuysse, V., Sparkman, K. L., & Wesley, P. W. (2003). Communities of practice: Connecting what we know with what we do. Exceptional Children, 69(3), 263-277.Carr, C. T., Shrock, D. B., & Dauterman, P. (2012). Speech acts within facebook status. Journal of Language and
  14. 14. REPORT ON A CASE STUDY USING TWO THEORETICAL LENSES 14 Social Psychology, 31(2), 176-196.Contu, A. & Willmott, H. (2003). Re-embedding situatedness: The importance of power relations in learning theory. Organisation Science, 14(3), 283-296.Cox, A. (2004). What are communities of practice? A critical review of four seminal works. Retrieved from, D. (2004, Nov 12). The history of saturday afternoon recreational softball. Reposted article from 2000. Retrieved from, P. M., & Kimble, C. (2002). The duality of knowledge. Information Research, 8(1), paper no. 142. Retrieved from, P. & Hodkinson, H. (2004). A constructive critique of communities of practice: Moving beyond Lave and Wenger. Seminar paper presented at Integrating Work and Learning-Contemporary Issues Seminar Series, Australia.Huzzard, T. (2004). Communities of domination? Reconceptualising organizational learning and power. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16(6), 350-361.Labiere, C., Gray, R., Salvucci, D., & West, R. (2004). Choice and learning under uncertainty: A case study in baseball batting. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 25th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, USA. Retrieved from, J. (1991). Situating learning in communities of practice. In L. Resnick, J. Levine,and S. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition. Washington, DC: APA.Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. USA: Cambridge University Press.Rogoff, B. (2011). Developing destinies: A Mayan midwife and town. New York: Oxford University Press.Saturday Softball (2012) In Facebook [Saturday Softball]. Retrieved from!/groups/2478221106/.Schwab, J., Westbury, I., & Wilkof, N. (1978). Science, curriculum and liberal education: Selected essays. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice; Learning, meaning and identity, New York: Cambridge University Press.Footnotes 1 Mental fielding errors take the form of throwing to the wrong base or failing to throw the ball to the correct fielder. 2 Hriniak proposed hitting the ball up the middle, to swing down on the ball, or to take the upper hand off the bat at theend of their swing. Williams looked at it as a science and advocated an inside-out stroke and taking the first pitch to improve yourstatistical advantage of hitting. Gwynn proposed a balanced stance, pulling the bottom hand and hitting for average. 3 SKLZ practice nets are sturdy and portable batting safety nets. 4 Defensive trainers to allow players to throw hard at small wired targets and to judge line-dri9ve returns and pop-ups.