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Michael Eraut, PhD

Michael Eraut, PhD

Hall of Fame Class of 2006 - European

Michael Eraut, PhD has been a professor of education at the University of Sussex since 1986. He earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Cambridge then used a two-year period in the United States as a Fulbright Scholar to transfer into higher and adult education. From 1967, he worked at the University of Sussex (UK) across faculties in developing teaching and learning and in designing courses and instructional materials, while also developing postgraduate courses and research in education. Then, in the 1980s he began to focus on vocational and professional education, with a particular interest in practical knowledge. As the director of the Institute for Continuing and Professional Education from 1986-1991, he pursued research in work-based learning, tacit knowledge and the nature of professional knowledge more assiduously, work that has begun to influence practitioners, researchers and research programs all over the world involved in work based and professional knowledge.

He founded a Professional Learning SIG in the British Educational Research Association, has been an adviser to UK government agencies and professional associations in several areas of vocational and professional education, and became the founder editor of a new international journal, Learning in Health and Social Care (Blackwell) in 2002. 

Outside the UK, Eraut was an elected member of the executive of AERA Division I (learning in the professions), and a founder member of the Professional Learning SIG of the European Association of Research into Learning and Instruction, and has delivered keynote addresses at their conferences. He has given keynote addresses at conferences in Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the US; and undertaken consultancy work in Barbados, China, Iceland, India, Jamaica, Pakistan, Singapore, Trinidad. He also was a member of the selection team for the Finnish research program, Learning for Life, has refereed proposals for Canadian and Netherlands research councils and been a team member for site visits to NSF research center in the USA.

Eraut has authored many books and articles. One of his best known books is Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence (1994). He is the founding editor of the international, cross professional journal Learning in Health and Social Care (Blackwell). Eraut has made substantial contributions to educational technology and learning in higher education. He was the section editor for both these topics in the first edition of the International Encyclopedia of Educational Research. He was co-author of an influential UNESCO book, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; and an expert presenter at the Conference of European Ministers of Education on Education and the Information Society in 1989, as well as editing the resultant book. Both these areas provided an excellent background for evaluations of national programs to promote flexible learning in schools and colleges, aimed at improved handling of diversity in schools and improved access for adults to college programs. 

Contributions to program development began in the late 1960s when Eraut was charged with developing new programs in educational technology and learning design first for schoolteachers and then for university teachers. His project-based approach proved most successful and has become the main method of the postgraduate teaching of mid-career professionals in most UK universities. More recently he has developed professional doctorate programs and a cross-sector master program in the Management of Change.

Eraut is engaged in research into occupational competence and expertise, the role of tacit knowledge in professional work, and factors affecting learning in the workplace. An important by-product has been demonstrating the complexity and partial invisibility of practical knowledge, so that it is no longer regarded as inferior to the formal codified knowledge. It also demonstrates how learning in the workplace can be facilitated through growing a positive climate of human relationships and giving more attention to how the work itself is structured, allocated, valued and supported.