Boundaries and learning mechanisms at the boundary


A boundary can be seen as a socio-cultural difference leading to discontinuity in action or interaction. Boundaries simultaneously suggest a sameness and continuity in the sense that within discontinuity two or more sites are relevant to one another in a particular way (133)

Learning mechanisms

(…) We have discerned four mechanisms of learning  at the boundary, which we summarize as identification, coordination, reflection, and transformation (142)


The reported processes of identification entail a questioning of the core identity of each of the intersecting sites. This questioning leads to renewed insight into what the diverse practices concern (142)

  • Othering: the identification processes occur by defining one practice in light of another, delineating how it differs from the other practice. (142)
  • Legitimate coexistence: the boundaries between practices are encountered and reconstructed, without necessarily overcoming discontinuities ( 143)


They analyze how effective means and procedures are sought allow-ing diverse practices to cooperate efficiently in distributed work, even in the absence of consensus (143).

  • Communicative conection
  • Efforts of translation
  • Enhancing boundary permeability
  • Routinization


(…) the role of boundary crossing in coming to realize and explicate differences between practices and thus to something new about their own and others’ practices (144-145).

  • Perspective making
  • Perspective taking


Transformation leads to profound changes in practices, potentially even the creation of a new, in-between practice, sometimes called a boundary practice (146).

  • Confrontation
  • Recognizing a shared problem space
  • Hybridization: Given a certain problem space, practices that are able to cross their boundaries engage in a creative pro-cess in which something hybrid—that is, a new cultural form—emerges (148)
  • Crystallization: Crystallization also takes place by means of developing new routines or procedures that embody what has been created or learned (148)
  • Maintaining uniqueness of the intersecting practices: it seems that transformation into changed or new practices does not go without some level of reinforcement of the established practices (149)
  • Continuous joint work at the boundary:  (…) to preserve the productivity of boundary crossing. This is where transformation seems almost opposite to the coordination mechanism, where the focus is on achieving a way to cross practices without much effort or awareness(149)


(…) we analyzed the learning processes described in the studies and discerned four dialogical learning mechanisms of boundaries: (a) identification, which is about coming to know what the diverse practices are about in relation to one another; (b) coordination, which is about creating cooperative and routinized exchanges between practices; (c) reflection, which is about expanding one’s perspectives on the practices; and, (d) transforma-tion, which is about collaboration and codevelopment of (new) practices (150)










Akkerman, S. F., & Bakker, A. (2011). Boundary Crossing and Boundary Objects. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 132–169.

Deja un comentario

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *

Post Navigation