Habits & Habitats: An ethnography of learning entanglement

Based on 549 hours of observation over 9-months in an open, flexible and digitally mediated learning environment, and drawing on research in anthropology, archaeology, architecture and the learning sciences. I explore how materials participate in learning and teaching practice, and how we may reasonably given an account of their participation in learning activity. It is presented in two parts 1) theoretical exposition and 2) rich description of empirical observation. The first traverses three scale levels: the qualities and properties of materials, the relational dependences between things and humans, and the notion of emergent, systemic wholeness; and concludes with the identification of a number of repeating patterns of structure and activity that give rise to wholeness, which are presented in the form of a partial pattern language. All of which draws on the ten rich descriptions of learning activity, that are presented in Part 2.

In my work I argue that there is an urgent need for a non-deterministic theory of materials in educational research, and that the type of detailed observational work I conduct can play a vital role in understanding how vibrant and participatory learning environments function and evolve. As such, my thesis makes both theoretical and practical contributions that have implications for teachers and educational leaders who wish to engage in shaping convivial places for learning.

My work was favourably received and I qualified for the award of Doctor of Philosophy without further conditions. A copy is stored on the Sydney eRepository and can be accessed via the following link: