Reconceptualising the relations between college‐based and workplace learning

Phil Hodkinson (The Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK(E‐mail:

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper seeks to problematize common assumptions in the existing workplace learning literature, to the effect that college‐based and workplace learning are inherently different.


The paper is based on empirical data from four different research projects, two focusing on the workplace and two on college. The approach is one of arguing that the differences between college‐based and workplace learning are exaggerated by the theoretical and conceptual stances that are often adopted.


From a rather different theoretical approach, many significant similarities between learning in the two types of location are revealed. The paper advances a way to reconceptualize the relationship between the two, based on this approach. There are two parts to this: changing one's view of the learner progression from one location to another, and studying the nature of the relationship between sites of workplace and educational learning, within their wider field(s).

Practical implications

Differentiating these learning processes has theoretical implications and a practical significance for organizations wanting to focus on competence and learning issues.


Highlights that the tasks of managing learning progression require detailed attention to the specifics of particular situations, which are often more important than generalized principles.



Hodkinson, P. (2005), "Reconceptualising the relations between college‐based and workplace learning", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 17 No. 8, pp. 521-532.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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