Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Scot Headley

Second Advisor

Dr. Dirk Barram

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary Railsback


The purpose of this study was to investigate learning orientations, strategies and tactics of veterinarians, and generate explanatory theory grounded in ethnographic data. A theory of approaches to transdisciplinary and disciplinary learning emerged from qualitative analysis of interviews, learning journals and field observations. Eleven subjects in 4 regions were newly employed by a corporate veterinary practice. This research is framed by theories of adult learning, workplace learning, and occupational community. The study was guided by 3 research questions about learning orientations, approaches, strategies and tactics veterinarians applied in the workplace. Question 1 asked about orientation toward learning. Question 2 aimed to uncover differences between learning clinical and practice management roles. Question 3 inquired about interaction of occupational communities and organizational context. Through recursive analysis question 4 emerged, seeking the role of professional socialization and identity in learning. Participants had balanced, positive orientations toward learning. Strategies and tactics differed between application to medical learning vs. the social, organizational and financial aspects of practice management. Subjects learned medical content formally and informally, but relied mostly on informal and incidental learning for practice management. Six areas where profession and organization interacted contributed both positive and negative effects to learning. Veterinarians' understanding of medical and business roles exposed conflicting perceptions that could impact desire to pursue learning in content areas inconsistent with professional identity. Theory from these findings explains learning behavior through the interaction of professional identity and workplace context. This study posits that increased organizational focus on content perceived as beyond the professional's discipline, including practice management, is insufficient. Perception of professional identity must expand to include additional disciplines before transdisciplinary learning is pursued. This study advances Hoskin and Anderson-Gough's theory (2004) that disciplinary learning occurs in isolated, specific channels that must be integrated for transdisciplinary learning to occur.