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Research Domain: Group Five - Informal Learning in Different Workplaces

Title of Project: Learning Technology Project

Start Date: April 1, 1997
Academic Co-Investigator: Dr. D.W. Livingstone (OISE/UT)
Partner Co-Investigator: Jay Zimmerman (Bank of Montreal-IFL)
Student Researcher: Laura Mitchell (OISE/UT)

This project was designed to document the work-related and other informal learning of bank workers. There are two components to the study: field studies of customer service representatives at several different bank branches in the Greater Toronto Area; and a national survey of a representative sample of bank workers. Both aspects of this investigation have been conducted in collaboration with a team of researchers from the Faculty of Information Sciences at the University of Toronto (headed by Professor Andrew Clement) who have been contracted by BMIL to assess the learning practices related to the introduction of Pathways, a new computer-based system for bank workers to provide financial advice to customers.

During Year 2, a Graduate Assistant, Laura Mitchell, was hired on the NALL budget to conduct the relevant field work. She continued this work on an OISE Graduate Assistantship during the 1997-98 academic year. Ms.Mitchell visited several bank branches to observe work and learning practices and have discussions with bank workers. She has prepared extensive field notes. She has also reviewed many relevant background documents, related research literature and bug to write an analytic report. Preliminary findings indicate that bank workers have engaged in a number of innovative individual and collective learning strategies to cope with the recent restructuring of their workplaces. The completion of this report awaits the completion of the national survey which will provide necessary context-framing information about bank workers' general learning patterns.

We cooperated in the design of the national survey of bank workers' learning practices which was finally administered by BMIL in March, 1998. This survey will provide general profiles of bank workers' further education course participation, their work-related and other informal learning activities, and their views on the positive factors and barriers to lifelong learning. The results are currently being processed.

Once the report is completed, we will disseminate the most important findings with the aid of BMIL and through a journal article. Consultations will be held with BMIL and representatives to determine what further contributions NALL can make to educational program development and further related research activities on the basis of this benchmark study.


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