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Informal learning of social workers: a method of narrative inquiry

Giancarlo Gola (University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 14 May 2009



The purpose of this paper is to investigate social workers' processes of informal learning, through their narration of their professional experience, in order to understand how social workers learn. Informal learning is any individual practice or activity that is able to produce continuous learning; it is often non‐intentional and non‐structured learning.


The study employed qualitative research methods, according to specific epistemologies such as Grounded Theory, and Inquiry into Narrative. The tool used for data collection has been the narrative interview. The scientific software ATLAS.ti has facilitated the analysis of the contents and the narrative structure.


The data classified throughout the analysis allow for observing and explaining possible interpretations of informal learning of the social workers. The informal learning process, depending on the level of intentionality, can be random and often appears as a learning process leading to change and improvement, resulting from reflection and awareness.


The paper offers a methodological contribution for narrative data collection and analysis, through elaborating a network of all elements examined within each interview and defining some characteristics and meaning of informal learning in the workplace.



Gola, G. (2009), "Informal learning of social workers: a method of narrative inquiry", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 334-346.



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