02 SES 09 B, Learning and Adaptation of Students and Apprentices
Recent changes in educational policy in Finland aim at shifting vocational education and training from vocational schools to authentic workplaces. Workplaces have been characterized as learning environments based on their affordances for learning (Billett, 2001) or on structural conditions and work organization (Ellström, 2011). Previous research has shown that workplaces vary as learning environments, some providing expansive opportunities for developing expertise, while others restrict the possibilities of learning (Fuller & Unwin, 2003, 2004). James and Holmes (2012) have designed a survey to identify aspects of the workplace that contribute to offering more expansive working environments and thereby providing better opportunities for developing skills and knowledge. This sociocultural perspective connects learning to organizational conditions and practices (Ellström, 2011, p. 108), although it is recognized that besides the learning context, the learner factors influence learning in the workplace (eg. Billett, 2001; Felstead, Gallie, Green, & Inanc, 2015; Tynjälä, 2012). This study focuses on individual’s cognitive style, which is a stable and preferred cognitive strategy of dealing with creativity and problem-solving and decision-making processes (Chan, 1996; Kirton, 1976, 1980). The Adaption-Innovation theory (Kirton, 1976, 1980) is premised on the idea that individuals can be placed on a continuum ranging from an extremely adaptive to an extremely innovative style. Cognitive style is distinguished from cognitive level (ability to successfully solve problems), and adaptive and innovative styles are both creative but in different ways (Chan, 1996), suggesting that both adaptors and innovators have their own characteristic strengths and weaknesses which are useful and harmful to organizations (Kirton, 1980). Adaptors prefer to operate within agreed paradigms and to create change by improving on the existing structure. They also favour staying in groups by maintaining cohesion by following the accepted ways and solving problems in a disciplined and predictable manner. (Chan, 1996; Kirton, 1994.) Contrarily, innovators break away from the existing framework and are associated with originality of ideas and less concern for efficiency and rule or group conformity. Innovators may ignore the rules or invent their own rules, as they prefer to stay as individuals and create change by altering the existing paradigm by coming up with new ideas (Chan, 1996; Kirton, 1994).
The purpose of this paper is to extend the study of person-environment fit to apprentices entering organizations and work-based learning environments. In this study (n = 305), we examine (1) how apprentices locate on a continuum of cognitive style ranging from adaption to innovation and (2) how the dimensions of WLE (Workplaces as Learning Environments) relate to KAI (Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory) scores. The aim of this study is to operationalize two concepts in a survey context: one, the idea that individuals can be classified according to their cognitive style; and two, the idea that workplaces can be classified as expansive or restrictive learning environments.
Bagozzi, R. P., & Foxall, G. R. (1995). Construct validity and generalizability of the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory. European Journal Of Personality, 9(3), 185–206. Billett, S. (2001). Learning through work: Workplace affordances and individual engagement. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(5), 209–2014. Chan, D. (1996). Cognitive misfit of problem-solving style at work: A facet of person-organization fit. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 68(3), 194–207. Chan, D. (2000). Detection of Differential Item Functioning on the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory Using Multiple-Group Mean and Covariance Structure Analyses. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 35(2), 169-199. Ellström, P.-E. (2011). Informal learning at work: Conditions, processes and logics. In M. Malloch, L. Cairns, K. Evans, & B. N. O’Connor (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Workplace Learning (pp. 105–119). London: SAGE. Felstead, A., Gallie, D., Green, F., & Inanc, H. (2015). Fits, misfits and interactions: Learning at work, job satisfaction and job-related well-being. Human Resource Management Journal, 25(3), 294–310. Fuller, A., & Unwin, L. (2003). Learning as apprentices in the contemporary UK workplace: Creating and managing expansive and restrictive participation. Journal of Education and Work, 16(4), 407–426. Fuller, A., & Unwin, L. (2004). Expansive learning environments. Integrating organizational and personal development. In H. Rainbird, A. Fuller, & A. Munro (Eds.), Workplace learning in context (pp. 126–144). London: Routledge. James, S., & Holmes, C. (2012). Developing vocational excellence: Learning environments within work environments. SKOPE Research Paper, 112. Oxford: SKOPE Publications, University of Oxford. Kirton, M. J. (1976). Adaptors and innovators: A description and measure. Journal of Applied Psychology, 61, 622–629. Kirton, M. J. (1980). Adaptors and innovators in organizations. Human Relations, 33(4), 213–224. Kirton, M. J. (1994). A theory of cognitive style. In M. J. Kirton (Ed.), Adaptors and innovators: Styles of creativity and problem-solving (pp. 1–33). London: Routledge. Tynjälä, P. (2012). Toward a 3-P model of workplace learning: A literature review. Vocations and Learning, 6(1), 11–36.
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