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Integrating research-based and practice-based knowledge through workplace reflection
Linköping University, HELIX Vinn Excellence Centre. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Social Medicine and Public Health Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Health Technology Assessment and Health Economics.
Linköping University, HELIX Vinn Excellence Centre. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Work and Working Life. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6784-0133
Linköping University, HELIX Vinn Excellence Centre. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Work and Working Life. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2012 (English)In: Journal of Workplace Learning, ISSN 1366-5626, Vol. 24, no 6, 403-415 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – This paper seeks to present a theoretical framework with the aim of contributing to improved understanding of how reflection can provide a mechanism to integrate research-based knowledge with the pre-existing practice-based knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper begins with an explanation of important concepts: research-based and practice-based knowledge, four levels of action and two modes of learning. Two mini cases concerning managers in the public sector in Sweden then provide an illustration of how research-based knowledge can be utilized to challenge practice-based knowledge. The concluding discussion addresses some of the challenges involved in achieving reflection in the workplace that utilizes research-based knowledge.

Findings – The reflection programmes had several characteristics that facilitated their implementation: they achieved a balance between the workplace demands on the participating managers and time required for the reflection; the participants were specifically recruited, had full management support and were highly motivated to be part of the reflection groups; the facilitators played key roles in structuring the managers' discussions and linking their experiences to relevant research-based knowledge.

Research limitations/implications – Methodological limitations of the cases constrain the conclusions to be drawn from these studies. However, it should be emphasized that the case studies were intended primarily as illustrations of how workplace reflection can be used to integrate research-based and practice-based knowledge. Obviously, there is a risk of social desirability bias because the interviewer was also involved in developing and implementing the reflection programmes. She also participated as a supervisor in mini case 2.

Originality/value – The literature on reflection has largely focused on reflection in the context of education, training and preparing for work or a profession. The role of workplace reflection and learning for practitioners and managers in work has received far less attention. The emergence of the evidence-based practice (EBP) agenda has further highlighted the importance of workplace learning and reflection, as practitioners are increasingly expected to critically appraise research studies and integrate new findings into their practice. A more EBP requires reflecting practitioners who are able to synthesize research-based knowledge with their own practice-based knowledge acquired through experience. However, the process of integrating research-based and practice-based knowledge has not been the focus of much study.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012. Vol. 24, no 6, 403-415 p.
Keyword [en]
workplace learning, reflection, practice-based knowledge
National Category
Other Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-80404DOI: 10.1108/13665621211250306OAI: diva2:546943
Available from: 2012-08-26 Created: 2012-08-26 Last updated: 2015-05-13
In thesis
1. Evidence in Practice: On Knowledge Use and Learning in Social Work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evidence in Practice: On Knowledge Use and Learning in Social Work
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Evidens i praktiken : En studie kring kunskapsanvändning och lärande i socialt arbete
Abstract [en]

Against the backdrop of the transformations in the entire framing of professional work, social work has come under close scrutiny in many countries, including Sweden. Doubts have been raised about practitioners’ existing knowledge base, and the importance of practitioners engaging in learning and the renewal and extension of professional capacities has been emphasized.

The present thesis concerns knowledge use and learning in the daily practices of child investigation work. The aim is to explore processes of knowledge use and learning in practice. The study is based on a mix of qualitative approaches, basically from ethnography, comprising methods such as participant observations, interviews, reflective dialogues and documentary analysis of case data.

The main findings demonstrate that investigation work is characterized mainly by the use of practice-based knowledge. Research-based knowledge is predominantly used as a means of explaining a client’s situation or to underpin and legitimize one’s own beliefs and decisions made on other grounds. Professional learning is largely adaptive in character, as the social workers learn to handle tasks in a fairly routinized way on the basis of rules or procedures that draw on existing knowledge in the practice setting.

Two conclusions are drawn: First, the use of knowledge in child investigation work bears little resemblance to principles of evidence-based practice. Second, the reproduction of professional knowledge is largely implicit and taken for granted. The study offers insight into the much-discussed topic of putting knowledge into practice, which is of importance to strategies for organizing profes sional learning and knowledgeable practice.

Abstract [sv]

Ett i allt högre grad vetenskapsbaserat samhälle har lett till att kunskapsbasen i många verksamheter ifrågasatts, däribland socialt arbete. Avhandlingen behandlar kunskapsanvändning och lärande i utredningsarbetet inom den sociala barn- och ungdomsvården. Syfte är att öka kunskapen kring hur individer använder kunskap och lär sig i och genom sin dagliga praktik.

Avhandlingen baseras på fyra delstudier som genomförts i tre svenska kommuners socialtjänst. Det empiriska materialet består av deltagande observationer, intervjuer, reflekterande dialoger och dokumentanalyser. Studien tar sin utgångspunkt i ett kognitivt perspektiv på lärande med teoretiska rötter i pragmatism. Ett grundläggande antagande bakom studien är att lärandet utgår från hur individen tolkar och förstår den situation som hen möter och därefter handlar.

Resultaten visar att utredningsarbetet företrädesvis baseras på praktikbaserad kunskap som erhålls från tidigare erfarenheter och kollegor. Forskningsbaserad kunskap används huvudsakligen för att bekräfta och legitimera en uppfattning och inte för att ifrågasätta och utmana existerande åsikter och antaganden. Lärandet kan främst karaktäriseras som ett anpassningsinriktat lärande där praktikern med stöd i tidigare erfarenheter och utifrån befintlig kunskapsbas skapar rutiner för att hantera arbetet.

Kunskapsanvändningen inom den sociala barn- och ungdomsvården ligger långt ifrån idealen för evidensbaserad praktik. Reproduktionen av professionell kunskap sker främst implicit och utan frågasättande. Förståelse för praktikers faktiska kunskapsanvändning och lärande har central betydelse för hur verksamheter kan organiseras för att stödja lärande i arbetet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. 92 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 641Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 192
Knowledge, knowledge use, learning, evidence-based practice, social work practice, Kunskap, kunskapsanvändning, lärande, evidensbaserad praktik, socialt arbete
National Category
Pedagogy Sociology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-117912 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-117912 (DOI)978-91-7519-088-4 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-06-05, Eklundska salen, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-05-13 Created: 2015-05-13 Last updated: 2015-06-02Bibliographically approved

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Nilsen, PerNordström (Avby), GunillaEllström, Per-Erik
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