Title page for ETD etd-05232007-163221

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Siudzinski, Robert Andrew
URN etd-05232007-163221
Title Not All Who Wander are Lost: An Ethnographic Study of Individual Knowledge Construction within a Community of Practice
Degree PhD
Department Learning Sciences and Technologies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Doolittle, Peter E. Committee Co-Chair
Hicks, David Committee Co-Chair
Burton, John K. Committee Member
Uysal, Muzaffer S. Committee Member
  • situated learning
  • reflective practices
  • informal learning
  • communities of practice
  • knowledge construction
  • hikers
  • Appalachian Trail
Date of Defense 2007-05-08
Availability unrestricted
This focused ethnography of Appalachian Trail (AT) long-distance hikers explored the situated and informal nature of individual knowledge construction as mediated through a community of practice. Unlike place-based or cyber-bound communities, the ever-changing membership and location dynamics of AT hikers offered a unique and researchable community for study. The complex and understudied sensemaking trajectories of individuals moving through this mobile community were investigated over three years through in-depth interviews and participant observations. Inductive analysis of expert and novice stories illuminated experiential patterns and collective traditions that comprise the AT learning culture. In contrast to traditional approaches to knowledge and skill acquisition, this study found socio-reflective exchanges, nested in hiking pods, to be critical sites for cognitive modeling and informal scaffolding between experts and novices. The situated encounters and developmental support of these nomadic pods were found to facilitate individuals’ construction of community-based knowledge.
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