Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Informal Learning

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_162



Any definition of “informal learning” is circumscribed necessarily by its close connection with the concept of formal learning. As the adjective “informal” suggests, informal learning is usually defined by those particular features that it lacks in relation to formal learning. The concept of formal learning usually includes three necessary features:
  1. 1.

    A specified curriculum

  2. 2.

    Taught by a designated teacher or group of teachers

  3. 3.

    With the learning attainments of individual learners being assessed and certified in some way

These basic requirements can be expanded into a fuller definition as follows:

Formal learning is that which takes place as intended within formally constituted educational institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, training centers, and so on. Typically it follows a prescribed framework whether or not actual attendance at the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Beckett, D., & Hager, P. (2002). Life, work and learning: Practice in postmodernity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Billett, S. (2002). Critiquing workplace learning discourses: Participation and continuity at work. Studies in the Education of Adults, 34(1), 56–67.Google Scholar
  3. Colley, H., Hodkinson, P., & Malcolm, J. (2003). Informality and formality in learning: A report for the learning and skills research centre. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre.Google Scholar
  4. Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal learning, implicit learning and tacit knowledge. In F. Coffield (Ed.), The necessity of informal learning. Bristol: The Policy Press.Google Scholar
  5. Glock, H.-J. (1996). A Wittgenstein dictionary. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hager, P., & Halliday, J. (2006). Recovering informal learning: Wisdom, judgement and community. Dordrecht: Springer (Reissued as a paperback in 2009).Google Scholar
  7. Hodkinson, P., & Hodkinson, H. (2004). The complexities of workplace learning: Problems and dangers in trying to measure attainment. In H. Rainbird, A. Fuller, & A. Munro (Eds.), Workplace learning in context (pp. 259–275). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Stern, E., & Sommerlad, E. (1999). Workplace learning, culture and performance. London: Institute of Personnel and Development.Google Scholar
  9. Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations (1967, 3rd edn.). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Technology, SydneyBroadwayAustralia