Individual collective dialectic of free-choice learning in a community-based mapping project

July 1st, 2005 | RESEARCH

In this article we describe an instance of free-choice learning in the context of an eelgrass mapping and stewardship project (the Project) that covers over 500 kilometers of coastline in British Columbia, Canada, and involves 20 volunteer groups. In this ethnographic case study we sought to (a) explicate the relationship between individual and collective learning in this free-choice setting and (b) understand how a network of Project participants could both constitute a free-choice learning setting and support such a setting. We articulate a dialectic relationship between individual and collective learning, which, unfortunately in our view, has not yet been explored in educational research. In this relation, collective learning fosters individual learning and vice versa, whereby individuals produce resources in action and as outcomes of their activities. These resources expand the action possibilities of the collective, and thus constitute learning. The stability of the network of Project participants, which brings about and supports collective and therefore individual learning, rests on the flexibility of the Project that enables local innovation and tailoring of mapping activities as well as access to expertise and tools produced by other groups and Project partners. The possibilities that arise in the Project for local people to participate in relevant ways constitute free-choice learning settings.


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Team Members

Leanna Boyer, Author, University of Victoria
Wolff-Michael Roth, Author, University of Victoria


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 1350-4622
Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1080/13504620500081210

Publication: Environmental Education Research
Volume: 11
Number: 3
Page(s): 335

Related URLs

EBSCO Full Text


Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Public Programs