Intergenerational Learning in a Teacher Education Context: The Jared Phenomenon

May. 01, 2011

Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 39, No. 2, May 2011, 125–137.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current study examines the potential of employing recent graduates to facilitate the learning of current students in a BEd program.

Context of the study
This study took place within the context of a 12-month after-degree BEd program at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Research method
The study included 46 participants which had different backgrounds: recent graduates who facilitated the digital learning technologies (DLT) component in Community of Inquiry for Teacher Education (CITE), student teachers enrolled in CITE between 2004 and 2007, and CITE instructors over the same three-year period.

The inquiry within the recent graduate DLT instructor context in CITE is guided by the following questions:
(1) How do recent graduates as instructors perceive their engagement with current students?
(2) How are recent graduates as instructors perceived by others (current students and regular instructors)?

The authors collected data by using ethnographic methods. The authors delivered questionnaires to all participants. The authors also conducted face-to-face interviews with recent graduate DLT instructors.


The authors argue that the use of recent graduates is a form of intergenerational learning that is characterised by knowledge-based, as opposed to age-based, generations.
The authors refer to the Jared Phenomenon as a special instance of intergenerational learning.

The authors provide a definition of the Jared Phenomenon:
1. The Jared Phenomenon refers to lived experience;
2. The phenomenon refers to recent experience;
3. The phenomenon refers to the experience of a relative novice;
4. The phenomenon refers to identifiable experience; and
5. The phenomenon refers to an unimaginable experience.

The authors also describe the contexts that this phenomenon is applicable:
• a knowledge-based versus an age-based distinction forms the nexus for the
interaction)in this case, recent graduates)
• the contributors fall outside the typical conventions associated with induction of
newcomers to a collective (in this case, the teaching profession);
• the community explicitly seeks these outsiders as assets within the collective
(in this case, the CITE cohort);
• there is reciprocity of benefit arising from the interactions between generations
(in this case, between recent graduates and current students.)

Finally, the authors also identify three dilemmas associated with the application of the Jared Phenomenon:
• Dilemma #1: The level of autonomy experienced by recent graduates as instructors is both empowering and disempowering.
• Dilemma #2: The proximity of the recent graduates as instructors to the current students is both beneficial and problematic.
• Dilemma #3: The use of recent graduates to teach technology is both enabling and disabling from a program perspective.

The authors conclude that the lessons learned from the current study point to the power of the Jared Phenomenon but warn of the need to be cautious in its application.

The authors also argue that having access to people with recent and relevant experience, in the form of recent graduates, is an important and underutilized resource in teacher education.

Updated: Nov. 27, 2012