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Defensive and Expansive Cycles of Learning: A Study of Home Care Encounters

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Journal of the Learning Sciences Volume 27, Number 2, ISSN 1050-8406


This study examines learning in home care visits aimed at systematic facilitation of clients' physical mobility. Building on the theory of expansive learning, we ask what kinds of learning cycles may be identified in home care encounters charged with implementing the new Mobility Agreement practice, what kinds of interplay may be detected between the parallel learning cycles of the home care client and the home care worker, and what the characteristics of defensive learning are. The data consist of 30 videotaped home care visits. The learning cycles of the encounters were found to be either predominantly defensive or expansive, which led to the identification of 4 basic types of combined learning cycles. Encounters in which the client's and the worker's cycles were aligned tended to contain fewer learning actions than encounters in which the cycles moved to opposite directions. The latter types of encounters were characterized by subtle orientational mismatches that left matters open and invoked further elaboration by the client and the worker. Defensive cycles were more reflective than expected and seemed to involve aspects of agency that are not commonly acknowledged.


Nummijoki, J., Engeström, Y. & Sannino, A. (2018). Defensive and Expansive Cycles of Learning: A Study of Home Care Encounters. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 27(2), 224-264. Retrieved January 28, 2023 from .

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