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The Perspectives of Learning Compare and Contrast Essay


This paper compares the perspectives on learning offered by Barry J. Zimmerman, Etienne Wenger and Yrjo Engeström. The research paper analyzes three dissimilar styles of regular learning system and dissimilar theories of accepting them. Three researchers explain the connection among social learning approach, self-efficacy of personnel and expansive learning at the workplace.

It also reveals that the success of any company relies on how the employees shape learning process and how they insert the constant learning processes into the daily routine. To be more specific, Wenger stresses dissimilar methodologies of social learning scheme in a company.

Zimmerman underlines the power of self-efficacy and how it assists in motivating the stuff members in order to accomplish the preferred aims. Engeström states that learning approaches are applied in order to estimate the worth of expansive learning at the workplace.

Analysis of Theories

Consistent with Zimmerman (2000, p. 82-91) self-efficacy motivates learners and assists them in dealing with new issues by constant learning. This approach differs from the largest part of motivational hypothesizes, for instance, self-concept, outcome expectations, and locus of control. This theory allows learners to make own choices concerning their activities.

Employees with self-efficacy are proud with their emotional strength, which allows them to deal with different difficult challenges as contrasted with the learners with no self-efficacy.

This ability enables learners to achieve aims and targets by offering the ways of better performance. If self-efficacy is supported by student’s self-belief concerning his or her academic abilities, it can further motivate the learner to accomplish the preferred aims (McGreal 2004, p. 53).

The author also discussed learner’s motivation in terms of the so-called outcome expectations (Zimmerman 2000, p. 82-91). He argues that outcome expectation and self-efficacy assist learners in motivation. However, self-efficacy is far more significant as the type of outcome students expect depends on their judgment on how well they will be capable to perform under any circumstances.

Zimmerman also specifies that self-efficacy concentrates on personal performance abilities rather than concentrating on the individual traits, thus, self-efficacy ideas are not single character but are multifaceted. Zimmerman (2000, p. 82-91) adds that self-efficacy can play a vital role for motivation as it helps learners’ to participate in their choice of activities and improves personal accomplishments.

Wenger (2000, p. 225-246), in his turn, asserts that success of any firm relies on how the personnel members accept the social learning concept in their daily work.

He further introduces the basic aspects of learning concept: communities of practice, boundary processes among them, and workers’ identities. Consistent with the researcher, personal experience and individual competency assist a person in adjusting to company-desired aims.

The author describes the communities of practice as the fundamental elements of learning (Wenger 2000, p. 225-246). They are created on the fundamentals of social education and put the accent on general cultural customs, history, and societal background of the organization.

Wenger rejects conventional educational understandings of education and claims that education is essential to human activity; and that it takes place via the processes of involvement in the communities of practice (for instance work team or a family unit).

Consistent with this stance, learning embraces the “whole” human being (not only his or her brain) where through participation a person, activity, and the universe equally constitute one another.

Such participation is captured through the notion of “legitimate peripheral participation” (Wenger 2000, p. 225-246). The concept relates to how the educational processes happen via the connection of “newbies” and “old-timers” within the communities of practice. The author explains the course of this involvement in forms of learning within several communities of practice, such as tailors, naval quartermasters, and former alcoholics.

Through these studies Wenger demonstrates how, in the course of the relational construction of “newbie” and “old-timer” participants, the learner as a “newbie” turns into an ordinary member and towards even “expert” position. This is accomplished not merely by studying special assignment related abilities, and additionally by understanding how to be a full-fledged member of the community.

Wenger’s ideas of “legitimate participation” and “communities of practice” are widely spread throughout workplace educational theory and practice (Wenger 2000, p. 225-246).

Nevertheless, some researchers point to some deficiencies in this theory. The major criticism is that the communities Wenger studies, which exemplify and support his approach, are not representative of the majority of present-day workplaces and organizations (Fuller et al. 2005, p. 49-68).

In his turn, the social approach to learning evolved by Engeström (2001, p. 148) goes beyond the challenges of education since it happens throughout the communities of practice and touches upon education, familiarity evolvement and “expertise” as these are vigorously developed through interacting communities of practice.

Researcher’s perspective of processes of learning is established within activity approach, and his fundamental concern is to recognize and explain the basics of what he calls “expansive learning”. Hence, in activity approach the concept of community of practice is substituted with the connotation of “activity system”.

Within this concept, Engeström claims that the notion of learning as attainment is inadequate since it presupposes that the information or abilities accomplished are constant and definite (Engestrom 2001, p. 135-155). Also, the challenge is that the most interesting types of education in organizations confront this idea as employees and companies are always learning the information that is not constant.

In his work, Engeström demonstrates that learning is the action-oriented course of reconstruction or construction and it is this course, along with the hypothetical approach to social “activity system”, which supports his approach of “expansive learning”.

This is evolved by the researcher based on Bateson’s approach of learning that embraces three separate learning degrees: attainment, studying the “hidden curriculum”, and repetition (Engestrom 2001 p. 135-155). For Engeström (2001, p. 135-155), expansive learning is the type of learning, which occurs through the third degree of education and, furthermore, it is a communal and not a personal undertaking.

The writer’s improvement of expansive learning via the activity approach is commonly well accepted amongst workplace studying critics, though some challenges have been discussed.

Some commentators, particularly Young (2001, p. 157-161), have claimed that not all work-related studying will occur within teams, with regard to a particular challenge or universal goal, or in the social conditions like those the researcher mentions, for instance, group discussion. Basically, in the majority of instances there are no social ties or special challenges to change at the strength considered to meet the criteria of expansive learning.

Young (2001, p. 157-161) also claims that the writer does not mention an issue of power. Engeström’s theory of expansive learning does not take into consideration the organizational environments, and particularly, the influence of top-down resolutions, many of which are frequently made in answer to outer pressures.

By this failure to concentrate on the relations of power, Engeström’s work could be blamed for presuming a playing ground of fair access to and equal engagement in learning and management, which is not the case.

Contrast between the Studies

To sum up, every work offers it own perspective of learning and gives the ability of thinking in a different way, thereby encouraging ground-breaking thinking in the company. These approaches give the significance of social learning system, self-efficacy, and motivation in any managerial processes and initiate new ways of accepting it into their routines.

They improve the competencies to accept and survive the transformational change and augment the personal abilities by attaining and sharing information. All three authors Zimmerman, Wenger, and Engeström offer the dissimilar standpoints and dissimilar approaches to the discussion of effectual learning in a company. They mention that the company may be victorious if all employees accept constant learning approach in the system.

To be more specific, Zimmerman estimated the ideas of self-efficacy by researching its influence on students. The study confirms that fact that the acceptance of self-efficacy leads to the increased possibility of working harder with fewer unfavorable emotional replies to some circumstances, which finally produce an augmented efficiency of the learning obtained, particularly in relation to the new learning issues.

This concentrates on the personal attempts to maintain stimulus and support for dealing with the learning issues and undertaking further progress.

Engeström in his work underlines the critical path approach embracing determination of the prioritization of learning requirements by the organization so as to offer the means by which the human resource department can adjust to the changing surroundings properly. This theory offers way to the participation of management in dealing with learning challenges.

Wenger, in turn, concentrates on the connotations of social learning approaches that expose the impact of social dynamism on learning systems due to self perceived concepts of learning that are predetermined by the social bodies and unions. This theory decreases to the degree of impact of social surroundings on the educational challenges for human resource development.

These three theories have dissimilar implications for human resource development and are dependent on the requirements of the companies for its realization.

Most likely, self-efficacy should be treated as the most useful theory for the human resource development because it suggests the ways to systematically examine the self perceptions of education and also provides the companies with adequate measures for guaranteeing that the stuff members are self motivated for education by adopting learning approaches, decreasing unfavorable emotional reactions to stimuli and realizing self regulatory ways for managing the course of self learning.


This work has offered an overview and analysis of three approaches within the educational literature the touches upon the workplace learning. The paper has drawn on the authors, whose works may be recognized as the basic theories in these areas and has demonstrated some of the fundamental issues that are still being discussed and disputed.

The dissimilar educational theories, as distinguished within the usual and evolving concepts of education and education as attainment and participation standpoints, emphasize the dissimilar opportunities to recognize and conceptualize personal learning. The customary concept of education is based on conventional approaches to learning supported by behaviorism, as well as cognitive psychology.

These perspectives are inclined to concentrate mainly on how employees attain information across various psychological courses and with respect to different stimuli. On the contrary, education as participation standpoints recognizes the “process” of studying to be commonly developed.

The standpoints are deep-rooted in societal connotations of education where it takes place via communal ties and collective practices of employees within the communities of practice. Varied concepts across the theories of learning stress how the word “learning” is dependent on numerous explanations and that it is, thus, a complicated and compound notion within the educational literature.


Engestrom, Y 2001, “Expansive Learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization”, Journal of education and work, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 135-155.

Fuller, A, Hodkinson, H, Hodkinson, P & Unwin, L 2005, “Learning as Peripheral Participation in Communities of Practice: A reassessment of key concepts in workplace learning”, British Educational Research Journal, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 49-68.

McGreal, R 2004, Online Education Using Learning Objects, Psychology Press, Abingdon, UK.

Wenger, E 2000, “Communities of practice and social learning systems”, Organization Articles, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 225-246.

Young, M 2001, “Contextualising a new approach to learning: some comments on Yrjo Engeström’s theory of expansive learning”, Journal of Education and Work, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 157-161.

Zimmerman, B 2000, “Self Efficacy: An Essential to learn”, Contemporary Educational Psychology, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 82-91.

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