Learning to learn through university accredited work-based learning: a threshold conception

Charlotte Ramage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to enhance understanding of the experience of qualified nurses managing the process of learning through work when enrolled on a work-based learning module. Design/methodology/approach – The study was based on constructivist grounded theory using semi-structured interviews with purposive and theoretical sampling of 13 health professionals across acute and community settings. Constant comparative method of data analysis used. Findings – A core category revealed a social process of learning to learn through work as the nurse shifted from a relatively passive view of the self in the workplace to one that actively constructed an environment that facilitated the realisation of learning objectives. The outcome was the development of metacognition skills of learning to learn promoting intentional learning behaviour towards a lifelong learning attitude. Research limitations/implications – If knowledge generated from work-based learning is to nourish the organisation, there needs to be opportunities for knowledge exchange in the workplace, consistent mentor support, protective time and a positive attitude to learning in work from colleagues. The study did not include master's students. Originality/value – While studies have highlighted the influence and impact of organisations on the quality and scope of learning through work, less is known about how health care professionals, in particular qualified nurses, learn to learn in the workplace. This study is of value to those investigating and supporting individuals learning through work-based learning. Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge introduce a creative perspective to explore the meaning of learning through work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-510
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Workplace Learning
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

© Emerald Group Publishing Limited


  • UK
  • Nursing
  • Threshold concepts
  • Work-based learning
  • Learning to learn
  • Practice knowledge


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