‘Professions’ were called “learned professions in ancient times.” Since then professions and professionals have played a continuing, but constantly changing role, in our organizations and society. Despite the amount of vagueness and ambiguities, the concept of ‘professional’ remains popular. It has been used as a standard, a demand, a defense and as an attack. It is also a concept with many definitions and many connotations and denotations formed by history and social contexts. Many authors have even suggested abandoning the notion of professional as a conceptual tool. We think that it is time to give this concept new clarity, use, and interpretation, fitting better within our time and, most of all, providing value to our work systems. In this chapter, we harvested what history has taught us in order to find a different mindset, to further define and contemplate the professional. Our main tenet is that professionalism is a self-chosen characteristic that is closely related to learning. From the literature, we derived eight characteristics of professionals and connected these to learning. The question of who is and is not a professional has fundamentally changed, going from learned professions to learning professionals. Finally, we present a model of different ways of learning that learning professionals need, both individually and collectively. The chapter ends with implications for theory, research and practice.
- Learning and development
- Learning landscape
- Body of knowledge
- Theory of practice
- Island of expertise
- Professional frame
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
Barber, B. (1963). Some problems in the sociology of professions. Daedalus, 92, 669–688.
Bassok, M., & Holyoak, K. J. (1989). Interdomain transfer between isomorphic topics in algebra and physics. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 15, 153–166.
Bayles, M. (1988). The professions. In J. C. Callahan (Ed.), Ethical issues in professional life (pp. 113–123). New York: Oxford University Press.
Bereiter, C. (1995). A dispositional view of transfer. In A. McKeough, J. Lupart, & A. Marini (Eds.), Teaching for transfer: Fostering generalization in learning (pp. 21–34). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Borghans, L., Golsteyn, B., & de Grip, A. (2007). Wat leert onderzoek ons over informeel leren? [What does research teach us about informal learning?]. In Handboek Effectief Opleiden (pp. 65–84). Amsterdam: Elsevier Human resources.
Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Claxton, G. (1999). Wise up: The challenge of lifelong learning. London: Bloomsbury. Collins.
Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning and instruction. Essays in honour of Robert Glaser (pp. 453–494). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.
Cormier, S. M., & Hagman, J. D. (1987). Introduction. In S. M. Cormier & J. D. Hagman (Eds.), Transfer of learning: Contemporary research and applications (pp. 1–8). San Diego: Academic.
Crook, D. (2008). Some historical perspectives on professionalism. In B. Cunningham (Ed.), Exploring professionalism (pp. 10–28). London: Institute of Education, University of London.
De Groot, E. (2012). Learning of veterinary professionals in communities: Using the theory of critically reflective work behaviour with regard to evidence based practice. Doctoral dissertation, Utrecht University.
Doornbos, A. J., & Krak, A. J. A. (2001). Learning processes and outcomes at the workplace: A qualitative study. In J. N. Streumer (Ed.), Perspectives on learning at the workplace: Theoretical positions, organizational factors, learning processes and effects (pp. 53–64). Proceedings of the second conference on HRD research and practice across Europe. Enschede: Twente University
Eraut, M. R. (1994). Developing professional knowledge and competence. London: Falmer.
Eraut, M. R. (1998). Development of knowledge and skills in employment. Brighton: University of Sussex Institute of Education, Education Development Building.
Evans, L. (2008). Professionalism, professionality and professional development. British Journal of Educational Studies, 56, 20–38.
Evetts, J. (2003). The sociological analysis of professionalism: Occupational change in the modern world. International Sociology, 18, 395–415.
Friedson, E. (1986). Professional powers. A study of the institutionalization of formal knowledge. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Friedson, E. (1989). Theory and the professions. Indiana Law Journal, 64, 423–432.
Friedson, E. (2001). Professionalism. The third logic. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gardner, H., & Shulman, L. S. (2005). The professions in America today: Crucial but fragile. Daedalus, 13–18.
Greenwood, E. (1957). Attributes of a profession. Social Work, 2, 45–55.
Horstman, K., & Houtepen, R. (2008). Van sturen naar leren [From steering to learning]. In Goed werk. Verkenningen van normatieve professionalisering (pp. 106–124). Amsterdam: Uitgeverij SWP.
Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling society. London: Calder and Boyars.
Kubr, M. (2002). Management consulting. A guide to the profession. Geneva: International Labour Organization.
Kwakman, C. H. E. (1999). Leren van docenten tijdens de beroeploopbaan [Learning of teachers during their career]. Doctoral dissertation, Nijmegen University.
Larson, M. S. (1978). The rise of professionalism: A sociological analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Leonard, D., & Swap, W. (2005). Meesterschap [Mastership]. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Business Contact.
Lubell, M. S. (1978). The significance of organizational conflict on the legislative evolution of the accounting profession in the United States. College Park: University of Maryland.
Maister, D. H. (2006). Why (most) training is useless. Retrieved from http://davidmaister.com/articles/1/96/
Marsick, V. (2001). Informal strategic learning in the workplace. Paper presented at the second conference on HRD research and practice across Europe, Enschede, The Netherlands.
Mayer, R., & Greeno, J. G. (1972). Structural differences between learning outcomes produced by different instructional methods. Journal of Educational Psychology, 63, 165–173.
Millerson, G. (1964). The qualifying associations: A study in professionalisation. London: Taylor & Francis Group.
Nonaka, I., Reinmoeller, P., & Senoo, D. (1998). The ‘ART’ of knowledge: Systems to capitalize on market knowledge. European Management Journal, 16, 673–684.
Onstenk, J. H. A. M. (1997). Lerend leren werken. Brede vakbekwaamheid en de integratie van leren, werken en innoveren [Learning to work in a learning way. Broad craftmanship and the integration of learning, working and innovating]. Amsterdam: Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen.
Parsons, T. (1954). The professions and social structure. In T. Parsons (Ed.), Essays in sociological theory (pp. 34–49). New York: Free Press.
Perks, R. (1993). Accounting and society. London: Chapman & Hall.
Riel, M., & Lepori, K. (2011, April). A meta-analysis of the outcomes of action research. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association conference, New Orleans.
Ruijters, M. C. P. (2006). Liefde voor leren [Love for learning]. Doctoral dissertation, Utrecht University.
Ruijters, M. C. P., & Simons, P. R. J. (2006). Het leerlandschap van organisaties [The learning landscape of organisations]. Develop, 2, 54–63.
Runté, R. (1995). Is teaching a profession? In G. Taylor & R. Runté (Eds.), Thinking about teaching: An introduction (pp. 288–299). Toronto: Harcourt Brace. Retrieved from http://www.uleth.ca/edu/runte/professional/teaprof.htm
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2012). Multiple identities within a single self. A self-determination theory perspective on internalization within contexts and culture. In M. R. Leary & J. Price Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of self and identity (pp. 225–246). New York: The Guilford Press.
Salomon, G., & Perkins, D. N. (1989). Rocky roads to transfer: Rethinking mechanisms of a neglected phenomenon. Educational Psychologist, 24, 113–142.
Schinkel, W., & Noordegraaf, M. (2011). Professionalism as symbolic capital: Materials for a Bourdieusian theory of professionalism. Comparative Sociology, 10, 67–96.
Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner. How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith.
Schwab, J. (1965). Supervisor, biological sciences curriculum study, biology teachers’ handbook. New York: Wiley.
Sennett, R. (2008). De ambachtsman [The craftsman]. Amsterdam: Meulenhof.
Simons, P. R. J. (1990). Transfervermogen [Transfer-ability]. Inaugural lecture. Nijmegen: Quick Print.
Simons, P. R. J. (1999). Transfer of learning: Paradoxes for learners. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 577–589.
Simons, P. R. J., & Verschaffel, L. (1992) (Red.). Transfer: Onderzoek en onderwijs [Transfer: Research and education]. Tijdschrift voor Onderwijsresearch, 17, 3–16.
Tonkens, E. (2003). Mondige burgers, getemde professionals. Marktwerking, vraagsturing en professionaliteit in de publieke sector [Responsible citizens, tamed professionals. Martkets, demand drivenness and professionality in the public sector]. Utrecht: Nederlands Iinstituut voor Zorg en Welzijn.
Van Gunsteren, H. (1994). Culturen van besturen [Cultures of governmental boards]. Amsterdam/Meppel: Boom.
Van Houten, D. (2008). Professionalisering: Een verkenning [Professionalizing: An exploration]. In G. Jacobs, R. Meij, H. Tenwolde, & Y. Zomer (Red.), Goed werk. Verkenningen van normatieve professionalisering (pp. 16–35). Amsterdam: Uitgeverij SWP.
Von Krogh, G., Ichijo, K., & Nonaka, I. (2000). Enabling knowledge creation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Van Veldhuizen, B. (2010). Werkend Leren, Lerend Werken. Professionele ontwikkeling van docenten in persoonlijk en organisatieperspectief [Learning while working, working while learning: Professional development in personal and organizational perspective]. Doctoral dissertation, Utrecht University.
Wanrooy, M. (2001). Leidinggeven tussen professionals [Leadership between professionals]. Schiedam: Scriptum.
Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behavourist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158–177.
Watson, T. (2003). Professions and professionalism should we jump off the bandwagon, better to study where it is going ? International Studies of Management and Organization, 32, 93–105.
Weggeman, M. C. D. P. (2007). Leiding geven aan professionals? Niet doen! [Leading professionals? Don’t do it!]. Schiedam: Scriptum.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilensky, H. L. (1964). The professionalization of everyone? American Journal of Sociology, 70, 137–158.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Simons, P.RJ., Ruijters, M.C.P. (2014). The Real Professional is a Learning Professional. In: Billett, S., Harteis, C., Gruber, H. (eds) International Handbook of Research in Professional and Practice-based Learning. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-8902-8_35
Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht
Print ISBN: 978-94-017-8901-1
Online ISBN: 978-94-017-8902-8