Learning in the Professions – Gear, McIntosh & Squires
“Whereas the main emphasis for
organisations and professional bodies is typically on overt, formal and
public means with any informal learning in the background, for the individual
it is the informal that looms largest and the formal inputs which play a
supporting role” (p71)
This study, carried
out at the University of Hull’s Department of Adult Education and funded by
the former Higher Education Funding Council for England, is now 30 years old
but it still makes a significant contribution to the understanding of
continuing professional learning.
Based on interviews with 150 practitioners across 7 professions it
focuses on learning that has longer-term developmental value rather than
responding to day-to-day issues. The
study helped inform some of Michael Eraut’s work on professional learning
(e.g. Eraut 2004) and was also influential in some of my work
with professional bodies on CPD schemes (e.g. Lester 1999).
Some of the
arguments in the report have largely been won and concepts have become more
familiar, but its message is still as relevant to organisations, professional
bodies and universities as it was 30 years ago. In particular we need to move beyond the
idea of some activities being seen as ‘formal’ because they are planned by an
educational institution or sanctioned by a professional body, while others,
that may result in far more significant learning and development, are
regarded as ‘informal’ because they are planned and pursued independently by
The report was
published in paper-only format and has been out of print for many years. A scanned pdf version (18Mb) is linked
below. (Note pages 48, 80 and 92 are
blank and have not been reproduced).
► Gear, J.,
McIntosh, A. and Squires, G. (1994) Informal
Learning in the Professions. University of Hull Department of Adult Education.
Stan Lester 2023