Deep Engagement as a Complex System: Identity, Learning Power and Authentic Enquiry


This chapter develops a definition of engagement which is underpinned by a participatory enquiry paradigm and invites an exploration of patterns and relationships between variables rather than a focus on a single variable. It suggests that engagement is best understood as a complex system including a range of interrelated factors internal and external to the learner, in place and in time, which shape his or her engagement with learning opportunities. The implications of this approach are explored first in terms of student identity, learning power and competences and second in terms of student participation in the construction of knowledge through authentic enquiry. Examples are used to illustrate the arguments which have been generated from research into the theory and practice of Learning Power and from the Learning Futures programme in the UK and Australia. The chapter argues that what is necessary for deep engagement in the twenty-first century is a pedagogy and an assessment system which empower ­individuals to become aware of their identity as learners through making choices about what, where and how they learn and to make meaningful connections with their life stories and aspirations in authentic pedagogy. In this context, the teacher is a facilitator or coach for learning rather than a purveyor of expert knowledge.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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