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Title: The essential nature of on-the-job thinking : a phenomenological study of health and fitness professionals engaged in learning experiences
Author: Muscat, Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 3408
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2018
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For as long as learning is considered to include a cognitive element, then questions about how, and indeed, why, we think, remain crucial considerations for stakeholders in education, learning, and professional development. This study explores thinking in the specific context of on-the-job learning, or in other words, the essential nature of on-the-job thinking. Research generally portrays on-the-job learning, and the thinking assumed to take place therein, as an increasingly complex and poorly understood process. Beginning from a position rooted in health and fitness sector-specific research, and subsequently venturing into the wider landscape of fundamental theories in education and learning, a review of literature identifies the tendency for on-the-job learning to occur predominantly tacitly, as a main contributing factor to an evident impasse in our attempts to understand or study it further. The review subsequently traces this tacit-ness problem to its roots in cognitive science, or more specifically, in dual process theories which depict thinking as an action that is either conscious or unconscious (tacit). Despite a clear juxtaposition of doing and thinking, and the apportioning of comparative importance to the two, theories and models in education and learning seeking to expound the learning process, typically rely on definitions of thinking that are unclear or inconsistent, and fundamental concepts, typically originating from cognitive science, that are obscure and/or paradoxical. It is argued, therefore, that in order to further our understanding of on-the-job learning, a clearer and more robust definition of thinking is warranted, as an alternative theoretical foundation for modern education and learning theories, based not solely on explanations derived from cognitive science, but also on descriptions derived from more philosophical endeavours, namely, phenomenology. Following a deep and reflective phenomenological analysis of personal fitness trainers' accounts of their onthe- job thinking, using modern as well as classical phenomenological methods, the study aims to, first, uncover a re-conceptualised and less problematic description of on-the-job thinking, and second, to evaluate the actual implications of such a reconceptualisation. The description that results, which is also presented in the text as an analogy, casts light on the centrality of feelings, as well as concepts either general or pertaining to self, as key influential factors guiding on-the-job learning outcomes, portrays on-the-job thinking as an integrated activity that is not isolated or separated from interaction with self, other, or the world, and finally, challenges traditional conceptualisations of thinking in light of the challenging notions of conscious awareness and volition. In so doing, the results of this study provide an alternative view of thinking in the context of on-the-job learning by personal fitness trainers, or indeed other professionals, from a conceptual/theoretical standpoint, while also revealing specific features of the phenomenon with immediate and more practical applications as prospective constituents of existing initiatives or interventions designed to facilitate and enhance on-the-job learning in the health and fitness sector, and perhaps further afield.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: X200 Research and Study Skills in Education ; X990 Education not elsewhere classified