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Informal workplace learning experiences of graduate student employees

Informal learning and how individuals learn in the workplace have gained increasing attention by researchers in recent years. In relation to other learning activities, informal learning constitutes a substantial part of an adult’s life. This paper explores the informal workplace learning experiences of graduate student employees. Data was collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews with 14 PhD students who were employed at their universities. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the data. The findings revealed that graduate student employees learn at work by participating in various work practices, collaborating with colleagues and advisers, and meeting new challenges that provide learning opportunities. The challenges of a set task play a crucial role in learning and skill acquisition, and learning happens as a result of interaction between an individual, an activity and a context. The workplace also provides a social environment where people can grow in maturity and learn responsibility as well as skills. Learning is embodied in the everyday practices of work.