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Learning as a Members’ Phenomenon: Toward an Ethnographically Adequate Science of Learning


by Reed Stevens — 2010

This article argues for treating learning as a “members’ phenomenon,” one that participants to an interaction organize, sustain, and evaluate themselves from “within” their interactions. This endogenous approach to studying learning is contrasted with the traditional exogenous approach. An empirical example is provided to ground the concept. Implications for further development of this approach are discussed, including possible tensions and complementarities with the exogenous approach to studying learning.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 109. No. 1.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 13, 2010, p. 82-97
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18402, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 6:57:10 PM

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About the Author
  • Reed Stevens
    Northwestern University
    E-mail Author
    REED STEVENS is currently a professor of learning sciences at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. His research focuses on learning in and across informal and formal settings, particularly those that are connected to STEM ideas and disciplines. Since the early 1990s, he has conducted studies in settings that include homes, science museums, K–12 STEM classrooms, early childhood learning centers, undergraduate engineering education, and a range of professional STEM workplaces. This work has the broad goal of building an understanding of learning across the life span in everyday life. He has expertise in a broad range of ethnographic field methods for studying cognition and learning, with a specialization in techniques for analyzing moment-to-moment interaction between people and with technologies. Publications include: Stevens, R., & Hall, R. (1998). Disciplined perception: Learning to see in technoscience. In M. Lampert & M. L. Blunk, (Eds.), Talking mathematics in school: Studies of teaching and learning (pp. 107–149). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press; and Stevens, R., Satwicz, T., & McCarthy, L. (2008). In game, In room, In world: Reconnecting video game play to the rest of kids’ lives. In K. Salen (Ed.), The Ecology of Games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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