Enrolment of newcomers in expert cultures: an analysis of epistemic practices in a legal education introductory course
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This article focusses on the transformative role of knowledge in student learning, paying particular attention to the mechanisms that facilitate the “enrolment” of students into their prospective expert cultures. It is vital for educational policy and practice to develop an understanding of how students enter a specialised knowledge domain. This requires a transformation in understanding as well as the appropriation of specific tools, discourses and practices. However, to investigate how this happens and identify aspects that matter for supporting processes of transformation and change, we need frameworks that move beyond traditional divides in educational research. In particular, we need to develop frameworks that capture the dynamic relationship between knowledge as historically developed but unfolding, evolving institutional arrangements, and student experiences. Drawing on the work of sociologist Knorr Cetina, we suggest an approach that highlights the concepts of epistemic machineries, epistemic practices and ‘epistementalities’ as a useful starting point to investigate such a relationship. We use a study of knowledge and learning in legal education during an intensive one-week course to illustrate how these more general concepts can be put to work to facilitate studies of the multiple levels and linkages involved in supporting enrolment processes. Thus the article builds on and contributes to previous discussions in this journal, where the need to develop new frameworks to account for the role of knowledge in student learning has been argued.
KeywordsProfessions Knowledge cultures Knowledge practices Enrolment Legal education
This research is conducted as part of the Project Horizontal Governance and Learning Dynamics in Higher Education, funded by the Research Council of Norway under the FINNUT programme (2012–2016). We would like to thank the reviewers and the editor for their supportive comments and the Project team for constructive inputs to previous versions of the manuscript.
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