A Phenomenographic Way of Seeing and Developing Professional Learning

  • Ming Fai PangEmail author
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


The growing interest in professional education has brought questions about how and where professional learning can best be developed. This chapter proposes a basis for developing professional learning, which adopts the view of learning from phenomenography. It is argued that professional learning can be conceptualized as a qualitative change of the learner in his or her way of experiencing or seeing the phenomenon or situation, which can be defined in terms of the critical aspects of the phenomenon or situation which the learner simultaneously focuses upon and discerns. It is also argued that by providing the learner with the opportunity to experience certain patterns of variation and invariance in the learning condition, he or she will be empowered to discern and focus on the critical aspects, which in turn improve his or her professional capabilities to handle novel situations.

This chapter first discusses how three major theories of learning, i.e. cognitivism, constructivism and situated cognition, conceptualize professional learning. It is followed by an explication of the phenomenographic way of seeing professional learning, with the highlight of the underpinning theory of learning, the variation theory. To exemplify how we attempt to foster professional learning among the learners, an empirical study which helps student teachers to develop professionally by forming a more sophisticated way of experiencing good teaching is reported. The chapter concludes by discussing implications of this view of learning for instructional practice within professional education.


Phenomenography Variation theory Learning study Professional learning Student teachers 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

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