An Exploration of How Interpersonal Relationships Facilitate Informal Learning Among Librarians
AuthorSpicer, N. Kathy
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractScholars report that 80 percent of on-the-job learning is informal (Marsick & Watkins, 1992). Yet little research exists that describes how those in the workplace can encourage informal learning through their interactions with potential learners. This is a case study drawing upon phenomenological methods—specifically, interpretive phenomenological analysis. The intention was to explore the interpersonal space among employees in order to understand how, if at all, the participant’s professional associates encouraged the participant to learn informally. Participants in this study were fourteen librarians. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore how participants said their choice to learn informally was influenced by their interactions with other people. Findings indicated that participants were the architects of their own informal learning. While participants drove their own learning, the positive regard of others played an important enabling role, particularly when participants were new or were attempting to transition to new roles, such as managing others. Participants did not focus on themselves; thus self-efficacy did not play a role in the topics they learned about. Instead, participants chose their topics and persisted in learning about the topics because they wanted to serve their customers in a way that enabled their lifelong library use. Given a backdrop of positive regard, participants initiated and participated in a variety of informal learning projects, often with learning being so embedded in the initiative or task that it was challenging to identify it as learning. Role modeling was important for the function of showing employees how to do things—and particularly for giving them ideas about how they could interact effectively with the public or with employees that they supervised.
Degree ProgramGraduate College