Epistemography and the Participant Structures of a Professional Practicum: A Story Behind the Story of Journalism 828

WCER Working Paper No. 2005-8

David Williamson Shaffer

September 2005, 29 pp.

ABSTRACT: This paper looks at the participant structures of a learning environment and proposes an alternative level of analysis for understanding how frameworks of participation help develop frameworks for thinking. Building on Goffman’s frame analysis and Schon’s work on reflective practice, I analyze participant structures of a professional practicum for journalism students by looking at how these structures collectively support the development of an epistemic frame that organizes the activities of individuals within the community of practice of investigative journalism. This ethnographic study shows how the practicum was organized by three participant structures of reflection that collectively mapped the epistemic frame of investigative news reporting for novice journalists—suggesting that the concept of epistemic frames and the larger time scale of analysis it implies may be a useful lens for studying reflective practices such as journalism.

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keywords: Epistemology; Communities of Practice; Journalism; Epistemic Frame; Reflective Practice; Practicum; Learning