CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS Re-imagining Lifelong Learning Conference - December 2015
Centre for Adult Learning & Professional Development www.nuigalway.ie/adultlearning
Foreword On behalf of NUI Galway and HELLIN (Higher Education Lifelong Learning Ireland Network), I am delighted to bring to you the proceedings from the second eucen conference held in NUI Galway on December 11th, 2015. The conference, Reimagining Lifelong Learning, aimed to offer practitioners, providers, lifelong learning learners, researchers and policy makers the opportunity to debate, share and harness information in ways that offer practical insights into enriching lifelong learning activities. Speakers contributed to six thematic dimensions of lifelong learning: Learning Transitions Lifelong Learning Practice Focusing on Adult Educators Revisiting Pedagogy Dimensions of Learning Expanding Opportunity I want to sincerely thank the speakers who shared their ideas and initiated many fruitful discussions during the conference. Likewise I want to thank delegates who engendered an inspiring sense of collegiality within the practice and challenges of lifelong learning. Best wishes
Dr Anne Walsh Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development NUI Galway
TABLE OF CONTENTS CONFERENCE PROGRAMME KEYNOTE SPEAKER PRESENTER BIOGRAPHIES ABSTRACTS LEARNING TRANSITIONS Liminal Space: Transition to transformation, the experience of adult learners in higher education Ciarán Ó Mathúna, Marino Institute, of Education, Griffith Avenue, Dublin Access policies in HE and the cramping of the sociological imagination Fergal Finnegan, NUI Maynooth Later-life Learning in the University Context: how can universities be age friendly? Rob Mark, Dublin City University LIFELONG LEARNING PRACTICE What’s in a Name? Lifelong Learning discourses in Further Education Bernie Grummell & Michael Murray, NUI Maynooth Reconsidering ‘flexicurity’ towards a lifelong and lifewide reflexive model Siobhan O’Sullivan and Séamus Ó Tuama, University College Cork Mature student participation in higher education: strategic priorities or "seat fillers"? Clodagh Byrne, Mature Student Office, Trinity College, Dublin FOCUSING ON ADULT EDUCATORS Navigating New Frontiers in Teacher Education Helen Murphy, Waterford Institute of Technology Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’ – Exploring identities using Open Space Technology Sarah Bates Evoy, Waterford Institute of Technology The Disorientating Dilemma: How does adult educators’ engagement with digital literacies in professional education programmes impact on their professional Identity? Paul Gormley, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, NUI Galway
TABLE OF CONTENTS REVISITING PEDAGOGY The Further Education Student Teacher: Factors which influence professional teacher identity examined through reflection Brenda Ivers, Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, NUI Galway Zoning in on Learning: using the CABES Framework Moira Greene, Limerick Clare ETB Cultivating pedagogic agency for the practice of RPL through an exploration of the values and beliefs of RPL assessors Phil O’Leary and Ann Ledwith, University of Limerick DIMENSIONS OF LEARNING Motivation to Learn and the Adult Distance Learner Suzanne Golden, Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, NUI Galway 'Dropped out or Kicked out?' - The impact of expulsion, informal expulsion and exclusionary practice in mainstream school on early school leavers engaged in adult and community education programmes in Ireland Sarah Elizabeth Meaney, Adult and Community Education, NUI Maynooth National Policy, local response: labour market activation in the Dublin Adult Learning Centre Kiera Ross, NUI Galway EXPANDING OPPORTUNITY Teaching and learning focused interventions in the further education (FE) classroom: the impact on professional practice learning Sorcha O’Toole, PhD Candidate, School of Education, NUI Galway A mixed methods study of the guidance counselling needs of adult learners with dyslexia through a social justice lens Petra Elftorp, University of Limerick Lifelong Learning and the implementation of a Recognition of Prior Learning policy Nuala Keher & Eddie Higgins, EQUAL Ireland, Galway
RE-IMAGINING LIFELONG LEARNING CONFERENCE • DECEMBER 11 2015 INSTITUTE FOR LIFECOURSE AND SOCIETY, NUI GALWAY 8.30 – 9.15
Registration – Institute for Lifecourse and Society, NUI Galway
9.15 – 9.30
9.30 – 9.45
9.45 – 11.00
Lifelong learning for a world worth living in Professor Alan Tuckett, University of Wolverhampton
11.00 – 11.15
11.15 – 13.00
Parallel Sessions LEARNING TRANSITIONS: Clíodhna O’Callaghan (Auditorium) 1. Liminal Space: Transition to transformation, the experience of adult learners in higher education. Ciarán Ó Mathúna, Marino Institute of Education, Griffith Avenue, Dublin 2. Access policies in HE and the cramping of the sociological imagination. Fergal Finnegan, NUI Maynooth 3. Later-life Learning in the University Context: how can universities be age friendly? Rob Mark, Dublin City University
LIFELONG LEARNING PRACTICE: Ann Ledwith (Room G009) 1. What’s in a Name? Lifelong Learning discourses in Further Education. Bernie Grummell & Michael Murray, NUI Maynooth 2. Reconsidering ‘flexicurity’ towards a lifelong and lifewide reflexive model. Siobhan O’Sullivan and Séamus Ó Tuama, University College Cork 3. Mature student participation in higher education: strategic priorities or "seat fillers"? Clodagh Byrne, Mature Student Office, Trinity College, Dublin
FOCUSING ON ADULT EDUCATORS: Fergal Finnegan (Room G006) 1. Navigating New Frontiers in Teacher Education. Helen Murphy, Waterford Institute of Technology 2. Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’ – Exploring identities using Open Space Technology. Sarah Bates Evoy, Waterford Institute of Technology 3. The Disorientating Dilemma: How does adult educators’ engagement with digital literacies in professional education programmes impact on their professional Identity? Paul Gormley, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, NUI Galway
RE-IMAGINING LIFELONG LEARNING 13.00 – 13.45
13.45 – 15.15
Parallel Sessions REVISITING PEDAGOGY: Helen Murphy (Auditorium) 1. The Further Education Student Teacher: Factors which influence professional teacher identity examined through reflection. Brenda Ivers, Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, NUI Galway 2. Zoning in on Learning: using the CABES Framework. Moira Greene, Limerick Clare ETB 3. Cultivating pedagogic agency for the practice of RPL through an exploration of the values and beliefs of RPL assessors. Phil O’Leary and Ann Ledwith, University of Limerick
DIMENSIONS OF LEARNING: Rob Mark (Room G009) 1. Motivation to Learn and the Adult Distance Learner. Suzanne Golden, Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, NUI Galway 2. 'Dropped out or Kicked out?' - The impact of expulsion, informal expulsion and exclusionary practice in mainstream school on early school leavers engaged in adult and community education programmes in Ireland. Sarah Elizabeth Meaney, Adult and Community Education, NUI Maynooth 3. National Policy, local response: labour market activation in the Dublin Adult Learning Centre. Kiera Ross, NUI Galway
EXPANDING OPPORTUNITY: Séamus Ó’Tuama (Room G006) 1. Assessment ‘for’ Learning. Sorcha O’Toole, NUI Galway 2. A mixed methods study of the guidance counselling needs of adult learners with dyslexia through a social justice lens. Petra Elftorp, University of Limerick 3. Lifelong Learning and the implementation of a Recognition of Prior Learning policy. Nuala Keher & Eddie Higgins, EQUAL Ireland, Galway
15.15 – 15.30
15.30 – 16.30
Student Talk From student to practitioner: research, stories, reflections and other insights on lifelong learning from a student perspective.
16.30 – 17.15
Panel Discussion: Alan Tuckett Re-imagining Lifelong Learning • What have we learned? • What can we do better?
17.15 – 17.30
KEYNOTE SPEAKER Our keynote speaker for the 2015 Lifelong Learning Conference is Professor Alan Tuckett OBE, Chair of Education at the University of Wolverhampton. ALAN TUCKETT has forty years experience of leadership roles in lifelong learning nationally and internationally. As Principal of Brighton Friends Centre in the 1970s he helped start the national adult literacy campaign. As Principal of a large adult education college in the ILEA in the 1980s he led innovative projects in inclusive learning, popular planning, and was adviser to the chair of Further and Higher Education. In 1988 he was appointed chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Education, and led NIACE for 23 years, where he started Adult Learnersâ€™ week, which has spread to 55 countries, and commissioned the independent Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning. His work involved advising ministers, developing a major programme of research and development, and undertaking consultancy for the EU, UNESCO, the Palestinian National Authority, the governments of Singapore, Uruguay, Australia and South Africa. Alan was awarded the OBE in 1995, has honorary doctorates from 8 universities, Fellowship of City and Guilds, the College of Teachers, and the Royal Society of Arts. He is a visiting professor at the universities of Leicester and Nottingham, and has held short professorial roles at the universities of Duisburg-Essen, Wurzburg, Warwick and a visiting fellowship at the University of Technology in Sydney. He was elected to the International Hall of Fame for Adult Educators in 2006, and to the role of Distinguished Professor at the International Institute of Adult and Lifelong Learning in New Delhi in 2014.
Listen to Alan Tuckettâ€™s Keynote Speech at the Lifelong Learning Conference, December 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei3Td5_ujt4&list=PL2Uc8hUYFNp6857AiwBDU-cpa08532Zjy
CONFERENCE PRESENTERS BIOS
SIOBHAN O’SULLIVAN is a social researcher, with a background in community-based research, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, evaluation, and policy analysis. She works as a researcher and assistant lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies, UCC and is also a partner in the research consultancy Shared Insight. She specialises in democracy and social justice issues, including regeneration, social housing and educational disadvantage. For the past fourteen years, she has worked on research projects for the public service, local authorities, the Irish Research Council, community groups and charities, and international research for the European Union and the European Social Survey.
SARAH MEANEY Born and educated in Dublin, my education was cut short at the age of fifteen, when family upheaval led to my dropping out of school. It was to take me another fifteen years to return to education, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Education and Training in Dublin City University, while working as an English language teacher. Hooked on both teaching and learning I continued my studies, obtaining a Master in Education with a specialization in Aggression Studies from Trinity College. It was during this period that I left English language teaching to work for the former VEC, where I had the privilege of working with a huge variety of groups, most of whom would be classed as severely marginalised. I trained as a facilitator of Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) under Julian Boal and Adrian Jackson in 2011 in order to further my professional development, which had a profound effect on my teaching approach. I applied to do my PhD with the Adult and Community Education Department in Maynooth University using TO as a methodology to explore the exclusionary aspect of early school leaving. I was awarded a John and Pat Hume scholarship to assist me in this pursuit. This year, the research was awarded funding from the Irish Research Council, which has helped encourage participation from other bodies including the Irish Prison Service. My personal and professional experience to date have shaped my commitment to work and research which address issues of educational inequality.
MICHAEL MURRAY is a Co-Director of the MA CEESA and the MEd in Adult Education and a sociology lecturer in the Department of Adult and Community Education, at Maynooth University. His research interests include education for political citizenship, power and governance, Northern Ireland and Environmental Justice. His most recent publications include a co-authored article with Bernie Grummell, ‘A Contested Profession: performativity and professionalism in Irish further education’ in the Journal of Educational Administration and History (2015) and co-editor of Further Education and Training – History, Politics, Practice. (2014), published by MACE Press.
PHIL O’LEARY has worked as mentor to candidates of Recognition of Prior Learning in Cork Institute of Technology for 19 years. Her role involves the co-ordination of RPL services for the institute and the provision of support for both candidates and staff with the assessment of non-formal and informal learning RPL. Phil is a PhD candidate with University of Limerick, and is researching the attitudes of the main actors within RPL with a view to cultivating pedagogic agency for its practice.
HELEN MURPHY is the Head of the Department of Education in the School of Lifelong Learning and Education in Waterford Institute of Technology. She is responsible for leading programme development for postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in education in WIT designed for education practitioners working across the various sectors (adult, further, community education, primary, post-primary and higher education). She is also responsible for research development and engagement with external stakeholders including the Department of Education and Skills, the Teaching Council, the National Adult Literacy Agency, and a range of national and international research partners. Her teaching interests include adult and further education policy perspectives, strategic planning in education and stakeholder engagement in education. Helen has held a number of positions in WIT since she joined in 2005. Prior to taking up her current role she was responsible for managing the national centre for professional development for practitioners working in adult basic education and adult literacy. Before joining WIT Helen spent a number of years working in executive education and management development with the Irish Management Institute. She is a graduate of University of Limerick and University College Dublin and is currently completing her PhD in UCC where she is examining the professionalization of adult education in Ireland.
BERNIE GRUMMELL is a Lecturer and Research Manager in the Departments of Education and Adult & Community Education in Maynooth University. She develops and manages research projects in the two departments and works on postgraduate programmes. She is currently the coordinator of the Doctorate in Adult and Higher Education. She is the research coordinator for the Transformative Engagement Network (TEN) project which is funded under the Irish Aid/HEA Programme of Strategic Cooperation 2012-15. TEN is a collaboration between universities and communities in Ireland, Zambia and Malawi which intends to transform the nature of engagement between various stakeholders impacted by or concerned with climate change and in particular to insert the voice and concerns of the most vulnerable food producers into climate change debates. She worked previously with UCD School of Sociology and UCD Equality Studies Centre as an assistant lecturer, researcher and postdoctoral researcher. Her research interests focus on social justice and equality issues in education, adult and further education policy, educational leadership, critical media literacy and transformative community development. She has published widely in these areas over the past five years, including the recent book with Kathleen Lynch and Dympna Devine (2015) New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender published by Palgrave Macmillan and with Michael Murray and Anne Ryan (2014) Further Education and Training in Ireland: History, Politics, Practice, published by MACE Press.
ROB MARK is currently an Honorary Researcher in higher education and lifelong learning at Dublin City University where he is currently involved with a research project know as Age Friendly Universities. He has held posts as Head of lifelong Learning at Strathclyde University and Queen's University Belfast. His research interests include adult education and social disadvantage, access to higher education, intergenerational learning and adult and community learning. He has also extensive experience working on internationally funded research and development projects. He is a regular hill walker and traveller and a keen supporter of the arts.
CLODAGH BYRNE is the Mature Student Officer in Trinity College Dublin. Her role involves the recruitment, integration and support of full-time mature undergraduate students. In addition she contributes to institutional policy on diversity and widening participation. Clodagh is on the Board of the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland (CSSI) and is a member of Mature Students Ireland (MSI). Previously, Clodagh worked on widening participation programmes with underrepresented groups at primary and secondary school level. Clodagh is active in the community and voluntary sector and is a Director of Drogheda Youth Development and the Boomerang Youth CafĂŠ and Information Centre in Drogheda.
BRENDA IVERS is a final year MLitt(Education) student at NUI Galway. She has been working as a tutor and teaching practice assistant at: Adult Training and Education Studies, Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, NUI Galway since 2011. She tutors on modules on the Bachelor of Arts (Training and Education) and the Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education). She has previously completed a Bachelor of Arts (NUI Galway), Post-graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis (NUI Galway) and Higher Diploma in Education (NUI Galway).She has previously worked as a teacher in the further education sector where she taught various modules (IT, Business, Maths and Soft Skills) from levels 3-6. She has also worked as a systems analyst and IT Training Co-ordinator in the corporate sector: she has designed and delivered customised training programmes to meet specific company requirements.
CIARÁN Ó MATHÚNA is the Coordinator of the Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education) at Marino Institute of Education, Dublin, where he also lectures on the BSc in Education Studies along with delivering and coordinating undergraduate research on the Bachelor of Education course. With particular interest in adult and further education, narrative research, adult learning, transformative education, and research methodologies, Ciarán has presented research papers at many conferences, including; UCD, Queen's University, Trinity College, Mater Dei, St. Patrick’s College, Dublin, Sligo IT and Limerick Education Centre. Ciaran’s professional background is as a coordinator of adult and further education having worked within the VEC/ETB, voluntary and private sector. It was these experiences that led Ciarán to complete an MA in Management in 2007. In 2008 Ciarán began his PhD research which he completed in 2013. The focus of his research was on the transformative learning experiences of adult learners in higher education, for which he received the academic excellence award from All Hallows College. Ciarán has wide experience supervising both post and undergraduate students across many disciplines. Ciarán is passionate about adult and further education, adult participation, their experiences and the impact learning has not just on individuals, but their families and the wider community. Ciarán is a member of the Further Education and Training Forum, representing Marino Institute of Education. He is also a member of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors of Ireland and the British Psychological Society.
FERGAL FINNEGAN is from Dublin and is a lecturer in the Department of Adult and Community Education, Maynooth University where he teaches on a range of postgraduate course and is co- director of the Higher Diploma in Further Education course. He worked extensively in community education and literacy projects before joining the department. His research interests include equality, democracy, social class, critical realism, and students' experience in higher education and more broadly the role of education in relation to state formation, political economy and social movements. Fergal has recently co-edited Student Voices on inequalities in European Higher Education: Challenges for Policy and Practice in a Time of Change published by Routledge and is one of the convenors of the ESREA Network on Active Democratic Citizenship and Adult Learning, He is currently conducting research on employability and higher education across Europe and working on a new book on Irish Higher Education.
PETRA ELFTORP is a full-time doctorate student in the Department of Education and Professional Studies in University of Limerick, under the supervision of Dr. Lucy Hearne and Dr. Barry Coughlan. Originally from Sweden, she has an undergraduate degree in Career Guidance from Stockholm University (2009). Petra has previously worked in the further education sector in Ireland as a tutor for Early School Leavers with literacy difficulties on a Local Training Initiative in Cashel, Co. Tipperary. She has also qualitatively evaluated a programme promoting personal, educational and employment development of Traveller men in South Tipperary on behalf of an interagency steering group and South Tipperary County Development Board (2011). With this background, she developed a research interest in issues of social justice for minority and underrepresented groups, specifically in relation to education and lifelong learning. Petra’s current PhD research study focuses on guidance counselling needs of adults with dyslexia. This mixed methods study is now in its final stage as the overall findings have been analysed. The research is framed by a critical social justice perspective which has examined and revealed issues of both maldistribution and lack of recognition of these learners.
SUZANNE GOLDEN Is a staff member with the Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development at NUI Galway, Suzanne Golden is programme co-ordinator for a number of part-time blended learning programmes including the BA in Early Childhood Studies and Practice, Postgraduate programmes in Practice-based Play Therapy and an upcoming Masters in Early Childhood Studies (currently under development and due to commence in September 2016). Suzanne has held a number of roles within NUI Galway including that of European Affairs Officer where she managed the University’s involvement in the Erasmus programme for over eight years. Her move to Adult Learning saw her take on responsibilities in relation to programme management including curriculum design and development. She has also managed the University’s involvement in a SIF (Strategic Innovation Fund) project aimed at implementing Recognition of Prior Learning policies and practices across a range of academic programmes. Suzanne is a graduate of NUI Galway; her early academic studies being in Science and Business Administration. She recently completed an MA in Adult Learning and Development and her research focused on motivation to learn and its impact on academic achievement. She is currently exploring policies and practices that support motivation to learn and how they might be implemented in blended learning environments.
SEAMUS Ó’TUAMA is Director of ACE (Adult Continuing Education) and a senior lecturer in political science at the Department of Government, University College Cork. He previously managed the Centre for European Social Research, at the time the largest nongovernmental social research centre in Ireland. His research is focused around human rights and democracy, with an increasing emphasis on how this interacts with adult education and lifelong learning. Respect, recognition and dignity are the central themes of his overall approach. His work is influenced by critical social theory.
MOIRA GREENE, MA in Ed. has been an adult literacy and basic education coordinator for the adult education service in Co. Clare for more than 20 years. First with Clare VEC and now the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, she has worked to broaden the base of literacy teaching and learning in Ireland. She has contributed to a number of innovations, including initiating the first family literacy project in Ireland. She also designed, developed and co-authored a variety of teaching materials for family literacy, literacies in social practice and development education. Her work has combined research, development and practice. She has collaborated on several EU projects and has been a key contributor to some special projects, including the Literacy through the Ages Exhibition, a written and visual presentation which focussed on the social history of literacy and highlighted the unequal social distribution of literacy practices throughout history. From 2009-2013 she coordinated the Clare Adult Education Service team tasked with designing and developing CAS Further Education and Training awards at Levels 1-4. Currently, she is working on developing differentiated teaching and learning practices to support the integration of literacy and numeracy across the FET service.
SARAH BATES EVOY is an experienced Further Education and Training (FET) practitioner, researcher and presenter. She has worked in several, diverse FET settings including Back to Education Initiatives, Community Education and Local Training Initiatives. She has particularly strong experience with individuals and groups which are considered disadvantaged or hard to engage, including individuals who have experience of homelessness, addiction, prison and all male groups. She is passionate about further education and training and its potential to greatly enhance the lives of both FET participants and FET practitioners. Sarah has qualifications in the areas of Social Care, Adult Guidance and Counselling, and Teaching in Further Education. She is currently undertaking research for a PhD at Waterford Institute of Technology. The PhD research project is entitled ‘Further Education and Training Practitioners in Transition – the impact of change on practitioner identities in the Irish FET sector’, and examines the various identities held by FET practitioners and the impact of current changes on these identities. This project is funded by Waterford Institute of Technology.
PAUL GORMLEY works at the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and for the Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development (CALPD) at National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). He is the Director and Chairperson of the Irish Learning Technology Association, co-founder and Editorial Board Member of the TEL Ireland Journal, and is the Guest Editor of the forthcoming special issue of Research in Learning Technology journal titled: ‘Learning Technology innovation in Higher Education and beyond: Sharing global perspectives on research, practice and policy?’. He has been a European Commission FP7 and Horizon2020 Expert Evaluator and Rapporter for since 2009; and has contributed to a number of strategic reports as part of the National Forum Digital Capacities programme. Paul was the Co-Principal Investigator of the 2015 Horizon Report for Irish Higher Education in partnership with the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University and the New Media Consortium (NMC). Paul has 20 years of international educational experience in the UK, Australia and Ireland at university and school sector levels. His research and doctoral interests centre on the development of staff, student and institutional digital literacies, with a particular focus on the policies and practices required to underpin these processes.
NUALA KEHER is EQUAL Ireland’s Academic Executive Director and a life-long learning practitioner for over 20 years. Founding Manager of NUI Galway’s Open Learning Centre she led the design and delivery of a suite of open learning programmes for trainers in Ireland. In 2000 Nuala became Chief Executive Officer of Líonra, a Higher Education Network in the BMW (Border Midlands and West) Region of Ireland. A key initiative of Nuala as Líonra CEO was the facilitation of a cross institutional agreement on RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) policy for the Region. Appointed by Government to the Board of Skillnets in 2002 where she plays a prominent role on its Governance Committee. She served a number of consecutive terms as a member of the Employment Appeals Tribunal and of the National Executive Council of SIPTU. In 2013, Nuala acted as a VSO Consultant to the National Ministry of Education in Juba, South Sudan.
EDDIE HIGGINS is a Founder Member of EQUAL Ireland and joint Executive Director. He was a Branch Secretary in SIPTU, where he subsequently became National Co-ordinator for Strategic Development and EU Affairs. He was seconded to EQUAL Ireland as Executive Director in 2004. Eddie has a range of managerial experience in such areas as HR, Financial Management, Corporate Governance and ICT. He has led the development of the EQUAL Ireland programmes, from foundation to Masters, and managed the associated negotiations with relevant 3rd parties e.g. Academic Institutions, Ireland and EU Funding Agencies, Government Departments, Social Partners and Community Organisations. As part of the EQUAL Ireland Team Eddie successfully originated, managed and delivered EU and Ireland Projects worth about ¤8 million. These contributed to the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people by providing accessible and affordable educational opportunities. Finally Eddie is EQUAL Ireland’s RPL Mentor/Facilitator guiding almost 100 applicants onto degree programmes, based mainly on their relevant work/life experience.
KIERA ROSS is a MA graduate of NUI Galway with a specialisation in adult learning and development. She is interested in theory and practice in adult further education. More specifically, her work examines the lived experience of adults returning to basic education and educators working within that field. Since graduating, she has presented at the 2014 International Conference on Engaging Pedagogy, for which she won best paper. She currently works as a manager with Interactive Data and as a literacy tutor with the Dublin Adult Learning Centre.
SORCHA O’TOOLE is an experienced teacher working in the further education (FE) sector in Ireland. She has worked for the Galway & Roscommon Education & Training Board (GRETB) all of her teaching career as a VTOS (Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme) Coordinator. This post holds management and teaching duties. She has previously completed a BA (NUI Maynooth), an MSc in Rural Development (Queens University Belfast) and a Master’s in Education (Trinity College Dublin). The research for her Master’s in Education studied the relationship between assessment, learning and feedback strategies. Following her Master’s programme Sorcha successfully gained entry to a part-time traditional PhD programme at the School of Education in NUI, Galway. Her PhD study is exploring ways in which FE teachers’ professional capacity can be enhanced. In particular, the study is looking at ways that enable FE teachers’ professional identity and the importance of dialogue in enhancing teaching practice. Sorcha is currently in year 3 of the PhD programme.
STUDENT SPEAKERS JAMES CONNERY BA in Training and Education, NUI Galway
SAFIA WALLER BA in Community and Family Studies, NUI Galway; Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education), NUI Galway
HELEN WALDRON MA in Adult Learning and Development, NUI Galway
EOIN COSTELLO Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education), NUI Galway
MARY SMITH BA in Community and Family Studies, NUI Galway
Abstracts Lifelong Learning Conference - December 2015
List of abstracts What’s in a Name? Lifelong Learning Discourses in Further Education. Bernie Grummell and Michael Murray.........................................................................................................3 The Further Education Student Teacher: Factors which influence professional teacher identity examined through reflection. Brenda Ivers ..............................................................................4 The Role of Institutions in the Emerging Era of Free Online Learning. Brian Mulligan ................5 Liminal space: Transition to Transformation. The experience of adult learners in higher education. Ciarán Ó Mathúna.......................................................................................................................6 Mature students in higher education: strategic priorities or “seat fillers”? Clodagh Byrne .......7 Life Long Learning and the implementation of a recognition of prior learning policy. Eddie Higgins and Nuala Keher ...................................................................................................................8 Access policies in HE and the cramping of the sociological imagination. Fergal Finnegan......10 Navigating New Frontiers in Teacher Education for Adult Educators. Helen Murphy ..................11 National Policy, local response: labour market activation in the Dublin Adult Learning Centre. Kiera Ross..........................................................................................................................................12 Zoning in on Learning using the CABES Framework. Moira Greene.................................................13 The Disorientating Dilemma: how does adult educators’ engagement with digital literacies in professional education programmes impact on their professional identity? Paul Gormley ...................................................................................................................................................15 A mixed methods study of the guidance counselling needs of adult learners with dyslexia through a social justice lens. Petra Elftorp .............................................................................17 Cultivating pedagogic agency for the practice of RPL through an exploration of the values and beliefs of RPL assessors. Phil O’Leary and Ann Ledwith................................................18 Later-life learning in the University Context: how can universities be age friendly? Rob Mark ..........................................................................................................................................................19 ‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’ – exploring identities using Open Space Technology. Sarah Bates Evoy ...........................................................................................20 'Dropped out or Kicked out?' - The impact of expulsion, informal expulsion and exclusionary practice in mainstream school on early school leavers engaged in adult and community education programmes in Ireland. Sarah Elizabeth Meaney ...............................22 Reconsidering ‘flexicurity’ towards a lifelong and lifewide reflexive model. Siobhan O’Sullivan and Séamus Ó Tuama...............................................................................................23 Motivation to Learn and the Adult Distance Learner. Suzanne Golden ..........................................24
What’s in a Name? Lifelong Learning Discourses in Further Education The emergence of Further Education and Training (FET) in recent years signifies a decidedly different policy approach to adult education in the Irish context. Different framings of key terms used in further education policy, theory and practice reveal a contested terrain of competing philosophies. This paper explores these discourses, arguing that there is a narrowing of scope in Further Education as it moves from an adult education framing to a narrow training and skills agenda. As a sector, Further Education has experienced the impact of professionalization and performativity in very different ways to other education sectors. We explore the implications for educators, learners and knowledge in Further Education, based on a discourse analysis of key policy documents. Traditionally, Further Education was defined in broad vocational terms, locating it as part of the general lifelong learning objectives of the adult education sector (White Paper on Adult Education, 2000). More recent treatments of Further Education – and its relationship to adult education – demonstrate a significant shift in ethos. The perceived purpose of Further Education is being reshaped into a training/reskilling paradigm. The scope of Further Education is constrained within this framing, through a predominance of operational definitions that focus on outcomes rather than processes; training rather than learning; management rather than leadership and clients rather than learning and learners. Definitions of further education are marked by their invidious negative comparison to other education sectors (further education is not formal schooling/higher education…’). This raises interesting epistemological issues about the knowledge, positioning and recognition in the Further Education sector, especially in relation to learning and employment. These changes are occurring in a time of key transition as the Further Education sector becomes professionalized (through Teaching Council professional recognition, SOLAS institutional structures and Quality and Qualification Ireland accreditation systems). Lifelong Learning has developed in specific ways which contribute to this narrowing of possibility for Further Education. This occurs on an international scale in terms of EU discourses of lifelong learning which have shifted from ‘learning to be’ to learning to be productive and employable’ (Biesta, 2006, 172). National agencies responsible for Further Education such as The Department of Education and Skills and SOLAS increasingly position lifelong learning in terms of developing capacities and skills for work and employability. These translate into a discernibly narrowed understanding of learner-centeredness which seems to be focused on a consultative rather than participatory approach to student involvement in their own learning. We consider the broader social justice and educational implications of these framings for the knowledge, learning and learners. We contend that Further Education needs to maintain the critical stance and ethos of adult education theory and practice. This will ensure that Further Education will continue to explore ways to promote inclusiveness and social justice while at the same time withstanding the growing impetus towards a neoliberal perspective on education where the needs of the economy override those of society. This highlights the importance of creating lifelong learning systems that acknowledge, value and consciously seeks to reaffirm the identity, lived experiences and ways of knowing of all involved.
BERNIE GRUMMELL AND MICHAEL MURRAY
The Further Education Student Teacher: Factors which influence professional teacher identity examined through reflection Professional teacher identity is viewed as an on-going process which transforms over time commencing with and through initial teacher education. The dimensions of professional teacher identity are influenced by many factors: (1) personal characteristics; (2) prior learning experiences; (3) prior experiences and beliefs; (4) professional contexts and colleagues and (5) knowledge, skills and attitudes (Pillen et al. 2013). Furthermore, the learning journey of the student teacher varies from teacher to teacher as they develop professionally. This study aims to examine which factors influence teacher professional identity of the further education student teachers engaged in the Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education), (PDE(FE)). The PDE(FE) is a two year part-time distance learning programme for persons working in, or intending to work in, the Further Education sector who wish to register with the Teaching Council of Ireland which is run at the National University of Ireland, Galway. These factors which influence professional identity are investigated through the reflective practice process which the student teacher engages in on the programme. Reflection and reflective practice have played a significant role in initial teacher education programmes in recent years (Griffiths 2000; Korthagen & Vasalos 2005; Soot & Viskus 2015). A qualitative approach was used in the research design. A case study strategy allowed for an in-depth study of the phenomenon. Data was collected through student submissions including learning blogs and reflective learning journals from self-selected participants on the PDE(FE). In addition, self-selecting participants engaged in a focused group discussion to gain further insights. Data was analysed through a grounded theory approach providing an insight into how the PDE(FE) facilitates the development of the professional teacher. Initial analysis of the data suggests that three key elements influence teacher professional identity. The student teachersâ€™ have been influenced by prior learning experiences: teaching methodologies experienced, their previous learning environments along with their experience of former teachers or instructors. Furthermore, student teachersâ€™ prior experiences and beliefs have had an impact on them: being influenced to work in the teaching profession along with possessing beliefs about teaching and learning. Finally, the initial data analysis suggests that these student teachers are influenced by their knowledge, skills and attitudes. The data suggests that there is a shift in their professional practice and attitude as their knowledge and skills develop through the programme: this shift is facilitated through the process of reflection.
The Role of Institutions in the Emerging Era of Free Online Learning You can learn almost anything online. For free! From playing the guitar to computer programming, if you search you will find the lessons you need and even communities who will help you along. It is no surprise that the recent press coverage of the MOOC phenomenon has elicited predictions of major disruption in higher education and the imminent demise of institutions as we know them. Just as quickly, dissenting voices have disagreed, pointing out the limitations of such self-guided learning and some of the failures to date. So, how will such free online learning impact on higher education and particularly lifelong learning? Will it disrupt and cause institutions to fail, or can it be absorbed into institutions and exploited to improve, access, learning quality and efficiency? This presentation will describe the emergence of Open Education Resources (OER) on the web, including the more recent developments in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and how this is impacting on education for adults, from informal learning to formal Continuous Professional Development (CPD). It will discuss the issues of effectiveness and sustainability and describe funded research being carried out by the author on low-cost production of MOOCs to address these issues. It will discuss commentators’ opinions on the disruptive potential of free online education and particularly the concept of “disaggregation” or “unbundling”, where they believe that many activities may well be done more efficiently by third parties. The presentation will also propose how higher education institutions can exploit this development by re-using existing OER and cost-effectively creating their own. Perhap more importantly, the presenter will argue that the real value in higher education institutions is the trust the public place in them to define programmes of learning, and to assess and accredit learners, and that Recognition of Prior Learning and Competency based approaches to certification of learning will become key issues in serving the public in the new era of free online learning.
Liminal space: Transition to Transformation. The experience of adult learners in higher education As a practicing educationalist I have many examples of witnessing adults experiencing personal change as a result of participation in a programme of study. Within an Irish context, the difficulty has been capturing these personal transformations in an empirical, validated, and trustworthy manner rather than as anecdotal stories. Having completed recent research, in a systematic way to capture such changes, it is possible to now document these transformations, which makes the case for a specific educational approach when working with adult learners. Narrative research was the chosen methodology for this research as it is personal, person-centred, in-depth, and is an accepted form of research within the field of adult education. This methodology was chosen as it allowed the participants to selfreflect on their individual experiences as, narrative research emphasises the ability of individuals to make meaning from and interpret lived experiences. Josselson and Lieblich (2002) refer to narrative research as “voyage of discovery – a discovery of meaning” (p.260). Elliot (2008) speaks of the interview enabling the interviewee to tell their ‘own account of their lives’ and that it is important not to ‘impose a rigid structure on the interview’ (p.31). The transformational learning theory of Jack Mezirow tells us that engaging in education can have profound personal, social and academic impacts on the participants (Mezirow 1975, 1978, 1991, 1998, 2000). The theory of transformation speaks of ‘trigger events’, ‘frames of reference’, ‘habits of mind’ and ‘meaning schemes’ as aspects of transformation. This paper presents the narrative experience of adult learners who returned to higher education. It explores and relates these experiences to the theory and presents evidence of personal, social and academic transformations. The findings capture the lived experience of adult learners within the higher education system. It shows the effect that engagement in education has on not only the participating individual but on their families and society. Findings where categorised to document their motivation for returning to education; their decisions which influence their programme choice; the impact of returning to study, the barriers encountered and the supports experienced; their experience of participation and, their personal, academic and social transformations. The finding from this research has implications for education providers in how provision is structured, the content and the teaching methodologies employed. This is a challenge to those responsible for the provision of adult and further education to embrace transformative learning and to employ an andragogical approach in teaching methodologies, student support and ancillary services across all adult and further education provision.
CIARÁN Ó MATHÚNA
Mature students in higher education: strategic priorities or “seat fillers”? The National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education was established by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in 2003 to increase equality of access and participation for underrepresented students. Mature students were identified as a key target group. “Mature students” are a diverse group and the term firmly masks the heterogeneity therein. Nationwide, mature, full-time new entrants to higher education range in age from 23 to 70 years and over, and hail from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Mature students have a wide variety of distinctive aspirations - some are interested in up-skilling, others are fulfilling lifelong ambitions. Mature student participation rates remained static at 11 percent from 2006 to 2008 but increased to15 percent in 2010, possibly due, in part, to the demise of the Celtic Tiger and increased demand for re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities. Although mature student participation has increased significantly in recent years, it falls short of the 20 percent target set in the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2008-2013. It is via three year compact agreements, negotiated with the HEA, that institutions make their commitment to mature participation. Failure to meet the agreed targets results in a loss of a small portion of the core grant. This presentation will outline the results of practitioner-research completed in 2015 to interrogate the power dynamics at play in widening participation strategies for mature students in higher education in Ireland. Undertaken from a social justice perspective, the research considered how the aims of new managerialism, prevalent in higher education, are shaping and legitimising current widening participation policy and practice. Fundamentally, this presentation will utilise results from this research to consider if mature students are deemed to be a strategic priority in participating institutions. The research, a case study using mixed methods, involved five diverse higher education institutions. The first stage of the research, an analysis of mature student target and participation data, was undertaken to establish institutional commitment to the cohort. This was followed by semi-structured interviews with mature practitioners responsible for the recruitment, integration and support of mature students; and semi-structured interviews with institutional leaders, under whose remit mature participation falls. The research established trends in marketization and internationalisation in the participating institutions and identified a strong shift, nationally, towards human capital investment and “learning for earning” strategies. The research identified unequal patterns of mature student participation; critical issues relating to data collection and definitions; and apparently contradictory government policies and practices that suggests a lack of genuine commitment to mature student participation. The presentation will outline the findings in light of relevant literature and government policy.
Life Long Learning and the implementation of a recognition of prior learning policy An Exploration of the Impact of the Application of a Recognition of Prior Learning process on a group of 60 Disadvantaged Adult Learners in the West of Ireland INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND EQUAL Ireland, which is a ‘not for profit’ community based charitable trust, was originally founded by: • • • • • •
NUIG and the Athlone, Dundalk, Galway Mayo, Letterkenny and Sligo Institutes of Technology SIPTU IBEC FAS and a range of Community Organisations
It is essentially a hybrid combining as it does the experience and agendas of 3rd Level Providers; Social Partners, Community Organisations and the Learners themselves. EQUAL Ireland are engaged in the design, development and delivery of 3rd Level programmes aimed particularly, but not exclusively, at those adult learners who, for whatever reason, have missed out on earlier education and training opportunities. Our programmes are delivered using a blended learning methodology at various local centres throughout Ireland and in some cases abroad in the EU (Spain, Italy, Greece and Poland), Turkey and South Sudan. In partnership with Líonra – the now defunct Regional Education Network, we have been engaged in the on gong development of RPL as a tool to assist the disadvantaged learner over a long number of years. More recently, and now in partnership with Athlone Institute of Technology, we have successfully refined and adapted the RPL Process, which had originally been developed through a Líonra Project, thereby enabling some 60 adult learners to directly enter years 3 and 4 of our BA (Hons) in Business, Social Enterprise, Leadership and Management. The EQUAL Ireland delivery approach is primarily community or enterprise based. Increasingly we have been encountering programme applicants who have significant work and life experience which has been gained informally and which enjoys no formal accreditation or practical recognition. This has increased and accelerated our refinement and application of RPL. In the past two years we have successfully applied an RPL Process and thereby enabled some 60 adult learners’ direct access to Year 3 and 4 based wholly or mainly on the RPL process. This paper will document this journey and consider its capacity of the described process for wider application and transferability.
EDDIE HIGGINS AND NUALA KEHER
Life Long Learning and the implementation of a recognition of prior learning policy (cont’d) THE PAPER ASBSTRACT In the context of the literature on RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) and EU policy, this paper will present preliminary findings from research conducted by EQUAL Ireland in 2015 using some 60 life- long learners who came through an RPL process and subsequently gained exemptions on a higher level degree programme. The research methodology focuses on the implementation of RPL rather than on RPL theory and includes a survey of some 60 life-long learners who participated in the process. This survey was followed up by face-to-face interviews with 20 learners followed by a focus group discussion. Each of the participants was asked to write a personal reflection on the RPL process for inclusion in the survey. In addition, interviews were conducted with the RPL Mentor, RPL assessors, and Tutors on the programme entered via RPL. The paper will present: • The RPL Process as applied • Identification and Engagement of the Learners • The Target Programme • Explaining the RPL Portfolio Process to the Learner Applicant • Providing Non-Academic Mentoring Support • Building Confidence in the Learners Language and Writing Skills • Building an Objective Self Awareness of Capacity in terms of Actual Achievement • Managing the Process between Mentor-Learner- Assessor • Assessing the RPL Applicants Portfolio • Completion Levels of RPL Process • Completion Levels of Programme Entered via RPL • Wider Applicability and Transferability of the Experience; the Learning and above all the process. While the survey findings are currently being interpreted preliminary results suggest that the RPL process had a significant impact on the participants both on a personal level and on their performance on the subsequent programme. Many participants gained a range of intangible and unexpected benefits, the value of were not fully apparent at the outset of the process. The fact that the mentor dealing directly with the participant was coming from a nonacademic background was of critical importance and something which needs further exploration. A number of areas were explored which may enhance the RPL process from the point of view of the participants, the most important of which was a demand for simplification of the process.
EDDIE HIGGINS AND NUALA KEHER
Access policies in HE and the cramping of the sociological imagination Policies on access to higher education in Ireland are premised on the belief that widening participation at third level can increase equality in society as whole and contribute to the creation of a vibrant knowledge society of lifelong learning (e.g. HEA 2008). This paper will critically explore this claim specifically in relation to access policies and initiatives designed to bring more working class students into higher education. It will ask what sort of social and educational transitions are envisaged through access policies and explore how working class students understand these transitions. The paper will do this in two interlinked parts. The first part will explore these issues from a ‘macro’ perspective and outline how class inequalities have been defined, understood, discussed and measured in Higher Education policy. It will discuss the influence of the large-scale quantitative studies by Patrick Clancy and colleagues (Clancy and Wall 2000; O’Connell 2005) and, somewhat less directly, of NeoWeberian research on social mobility (e.g. Breen 2004 ). The paper will outline what this research has discovered and achieved but also argue that it has certain theoretical and methodological limitations. Not least that “categorical approaches are [now] viewed as the only approach with which to conceptualise the relationship between disadvantage, social class and access to higher education” (Bernard 2008 p.32). Moreover, the specific way this research has been used in access policies has occluded the nature and causes of class inequality. This ‘cramping’ of the sociological imagination is especially problematic, the paper will argue, when we take into account the broader policy and socio-political context in which inequalities have become more severe. This critical analysis of the theoretical basis for access policies will be used to frame the second part of the paper which draws on eighty one in-depth, biographical interviews conducted with fifty one mainly working class students in Irish HE. The paper will outline the rationale for this type of in-depth qualitative research for exploring class, access and equality. It will then describe how these working class students view access initiatives and how they negotiate the meaning of class and access as they go through college. The paper will use biographical accounts to illustrate the complex, layered nature of working class transitions through HE and make the case that these experiences are poorly described and even misrepresented by the use of ‘flat’ access categories. The final part of the paper will draw on both the macro analysis and the findings from the empirical research to therefore argue for a rethinking of how we envisage access and equality in HE from a critical realist perspective (Bhaskar 1979). It will contend that we need to go beyond thinking of widening participation in terms of ‘inputs’, ‘outputs’ or even risky transitions; and ask how we might reshape the culture and practices of the university in a way that is commensurable with the needs of working class students in general and whether some of the valued transitions achieved through access to higher education can be made available to a far greater number of people in the future.
Navigating New Frontiers in Teacher Education for Adult Educators This paper will present the current debate on the professionalization of adult education in Ireland, the associated move towards third level teaching qualification for adult educators and will investigate how the changes in the national environment and the role of stakeholders influenced and informed the development of these new national teacher education qualifications for adult educators in Ireland. The paper will include views from practitioners of the impact of this changing environment on their identity and practice. The introduction of new teacher education qualifications for adult educators working in further education settings has re-ignited the debate surrounding the professionalization of adult education in Ireland. The concept of professionalization is a contested one, with the literature presenting conflicting views; on one hand commentators (Wilson: 2001, Cervero: 1988, 1992, Cervero in Perin, 2006) suggest that a suitably qualified workforce with a strong knowledge base informed by empirical research operating with clear national guidelines and structures to support adult education will enhance the range and quality of adult education provision. While, on the other hand commentators (Beck:2009, Fitzsimons:2010) outline the potentially harmful impact of professionalization, where the state and national agencies including higher education institutions create and manage the regulatory environment and therefore the access and control of the sector and as such create a system that works against the very ethos of equality and inclusivity in adult education. In this case the State and itsâ€™ associated stakeholders define knowledge in the field or the official contextualization of the field (Beck: 2009) to the possible exclusion of those who work in the sector. While Irish national policy in tandem with EU policy (DES:2000, SOLAS:2014) supports the development of enhanced structures, career progression and professional development for adult educators, the question of access, control and conflicting values systems between the State and practitioners and learners remains. In recent years in Ireland, new third level qualifications for adult educators have been developed in line with national guidelines set down by the Teaching Council of Ireland, the professional body responsible for regulation of the teaching profession in Ireland. The paper will conclude with some initial findings, from a current doctoral study, of the experiences of adult educators pursuing these new teacher education qualifications, their views on professionalization and the impact it is having on their own identity and practice. The study provides a contextual background for adult and continuing education in Ireland, critically examines education policy, and explores how regulation is impacting on ACE practitioners in terms of their identity and enacted practices. The study aims to contribute to an understanding of the impact of the professionalization on the adult educator and the adult learner and to broaden the debate concerning the process to stakeholders in adult education including policy makers, practitioners, national adult education organisations and providers of adult education programmes.
National Policy, local response: labour market activation in the Dublin Adult Learning Centre This paper explores tensions and contradictions in discourses of Labour Market Activation (LMA) measures among a group of adult learners and tutors in Dublin’s north inner city and how LMA is portrayed in policy discourses. Throughout this paper, discourse is understood as a group of ideas, concepts and categories used to ascribe meaning to social phenomena (Hajer, 2006). Social science literature on Higher and Further Education notes that education is a knowledge‐based and discursive process (UNESCO, 2011). Share et al. (2012) argue that access to this process is shaped by a system structured to maintain an existing social order. Qualitative evidence obtained from focus group interviews suggests that lived experiences of LMA are deeply subjective; learner and tutor discourses of education and LMA are interlinked with concepts of power, class and culture. The contrast with the rational, statistical model of education‐as-LMA present in national policy reveals a 'hidden' tension in how LMA is reconstructed among participants compared to political actors and policymakers. The paper concludes with an argument for a culturally‐sensitive approach to policy‐making which takes account of the findings of the study.
Zoning in on Learning using the CABES Framework The aim of this paper is to describe how the CABES (Clare Adult Basic Education Service) Framework is used in adult education to help learners engage more effectively in adult learning. Many learners coming back to learning haven’t participated in training or education since leaving formal schooling, often without qualifications. Others have made an attempt, but struggled and then dropped out. Moreover, most new learners are unaware that the adult learning environment is different from teacher-directed traditional schooling. As a result, there is often a need to socialise learners into the environment of an adult learning community, as well as familiarising them with particular course requirements. The paper will draw on, among others, the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky who proposed that learning best takes place within a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Vygotsky defined this zone as the distance between what a learner can do independently and what a learner can do with support. In the adult learning experience, it could be said that the ZPD establishes the space where learners can be active participants (not passive recipients), using what they know and can do already to interact with the learning experience. Within their ZPD, learners can comfortably engage with a new learning situation knowing that they have resources that they can rely on for support. This helps to build learner confidence and willingness to ‘take risks’. As a result, learners further increase their resources and so develop greater learner autonomy. Locating learning at an appropriate distance between where a learner is setting out from and where he or she wants to go is a challenge. If the distance is too great, the learner may experience frustration and failure; if the distance is too narrow, the learner may feel bored and under-stimulated. The CABES Framework was designed to help tutors and learners meet this challenge. Underpinned by theories of literacy as social practice, social and constructivist learning theory and principles of adult learning, the Framework guides tutors and learners through a learning dialogue built around five distinct yet interlinked factors that will be discussed in detail: • • • • •
Background knowledge Familiarity with texts and technologies (and other learning tools) Language practice (verbal and mathematical) Social experience Self-awareness
These five factors provide a bridge between adult learning theory and practice because they are rooted in theory, yet visible in everyday practice. Significantly, the Framework raises the visibility of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills (including emotional and meta-cognitive awareness). Too often ‘soft skills’ as seen as something to be informally acquired as a bonus to the more substantial content knowledge and skills. In the CABES Framework ‘soft skills’ are integral to learning. They are what enable a learner to act on their learning outside the classroom. Planning for and building enabling outcomes is an essential part of learner progress. Moreover, this increased learning competence will result not only in better
Zoning in on Learning using the CABES Framework (contâ€™d) learner outcomes but also strengthen learner resilience and increase likelihood of further progression. Finally, that paper will consider how, in recent times, adult education has come under pressure to perform in a way that may force â€˜old principlesâ€™ to give way to more pragmatic concerns, e.g. meeting demands for standardisation and outcomes-based funding requirements. The Framework therefore is presented not so much as providing a fixed solution, but rather a way of keeping a much needed dialogue open between tutors and learners as well as adult educators and key stakeholders as to how best to provide real and sustained learning experiences.
The Disorientating Dilemma: how does adult educators’ engagement with digital literacies in professional education programmes impact on their professional identity? The need to reappraise adult educators’ professional competence has been highlighted in light of the rapidly changing landscape of lifelong learning, its participants and its practices (voor Beleid, 2010; Teaching Council, 2011; CEDEFOP, 2013; European Commission, 2013). For example, recent European policy has highlighted the need for the increased professionalism of adult educators stating that ‘support should be provided for specific programmes for adult educators’ (European Commission, 2008, p12); while SOLAS (2014, p20) argues for an approach that ‘marries pedagogical skills with up-to-date industry relevant expertise’ for staff that have education and training delivery responsibilities. Associated with these discussions is the notion of Digital Literacy (DL) emerging as an important ‘new’ generic competency in society, with technology tools and practices increasingly prevalent in education, the workplace and everyday life (European Commission, 2013). In Higher and Further Education discourse, a strong body of current research supports the view that the development of digital literacies is now an essential competency of adult educators in the lifelong learning sector (Laurillard, 2012); with the associated concern that potential benefits arising from technology-enhanced learning may not be accessible for learners if the adult educators they engage with are not confident or competent in their capacity to develop digital literacies (Weller, 2011). This view has lead to the development of a range of pedagogical frameworks (e.g. Beetham, 2010; Martin, 2005) that enable the embedding of contextual digital literacy tools practices into professional education programmes (PEPs). The outcomes of such approaches are now emerging through initiatives such as the FutureLearn MOOC Blended Learning Essentials for Further Education (launched in October 2015) and well PEPs offered by educational providers in Ireland (e.g. NUI Galway BA in Education and Training). However, there is currently a lack of research that evidences how adult educators react to engaging in such PEPs, specifically in terms of their professional identity (Bouwma-Gearhart, 2012). As such, how do we know if these curricula hold value in the eyes of our key stakeholders? Are their experiences positive or negative? Can we have confidence that the PEPs being developed using the research-based approaches highlighted above are providing tangible opportunities for adult educators to develop the capabilities they need now and into the future? To answer this, we need the direct input of adult educators. This paper presents the insights of adult educators who engaged with a third year undergraduate BA in Education and Training module titled ‘The Virtual Learning Environment’ in 2014. This module employed the DigEULit digital literacy framework approach (Martin, 2005) to embed digital literacies into that curriculum. The following feedback themes harvested from adult educators through Professional Learning Journal posts and semi-structured interviews will be presented: self efficacy; engaging with authentic hands-on activities; transfer from the educational setting to the workplace; and the overall impact of adult educators engaging with this curriculum in terms of their professional identity What will this tell us? Will it reveal digital literacies engagement as a disorientating dilema (Mezirow, 2000) bringing ‘emotional discomfort’ (Schon, 1987)? Will it lead to a continuing ‘virtuous circle of success’ (Rogers, 2002, p3) or possibly a ‘learned
The Disorientating Dilemma: how does adult educators’ engagement with digital literacies in professional education programmes impact on their professional identity? (cont’d) helplessness’ in learners (Peterson et al, 1993; Seligman, 1998)? These are important questions which this presentation will address. This presentation will be of interest to HE/FE educational providers, policy makers and practitioners; particularly those interested in digital literacy framework and QQI standards development.
A mixed methods study of the guidance counselling needs of adult learners with dyslexia through a social justice lens This paper will present the findings of a doctoral study which has addressed an under-researched topic in the Irish adult education sector. Specifically, the aim of the study was to investigate the guidance counselling needs of adults with dyslexia within the national Adult Education Guidance Initiative (AEGI). Through a criticalrecognitive social justice lens and a mixed methods research design, a comprehensive picture has emerged of current issues in relation to supporting adult learners with dyslexia in the Irish education system. The initial phase of this study explored AEGI guidance counsellors’ experiences of providing guidance counselling to adults with dyslexia through an online survey. The second phase investigated the lived experiences of adults with confirmed and suspected dyslexia through 14 semistructured face-to-face interviews. In relation to policy, guidance counselling is described as a tool for the implementation of public policy goals of learning, labour market and social equity (Council of the European Union 2008; Darmon and Perez 2011; ELGPN 2012; OECD 2004). Furthermore, guidance counsellors have been found to have a pivotal role in supporting the educational progression of students with special educational needs (McGuckin et al. 2013). However, AEGI practitioners are working with stretched resources and complex client issues (Bimrose and Hearne 2012). Furthermore, a review of the literature has revealed a need for a stronger evidence-base to support adult guidance provision in the AEGI. A synthesis of the overall findings identified two key themes. The first theme relates to the ‘lived realities’ of adults with dyslexia in relation to living with, identifying/diagnosing, and disclosing their dyslexia. The second theme focuses on dyslexic adult learners in the Irish education system and discusses their progression, coping strategies and support, such as guidance counselling. The experiences of both the guidance counsellors and the dyslexic adults highlight a number of recognitive and distributive social justice issues related to identity construction, self-confidence, and access to funding, assessments, support and education (Fraser and Honneth 2003; Irving 2010). Nonetheless, the findings also identify that many dyslexic adults experience positive educational and career progression through developed resilience and unique coping strategies to overcome the challenges that dyslexia may entail. Finally, these findings have a number of practice, policy and research implications in relation to public policy goals of social equity and promotion of equal opportunities in guidance counselling and education. In relation to practice, there are some fundamental training and CPD implications that need to be addressed to support guidance counsellors in their intervention work with adults with dyslexia. However, guidance support is often circumscribed by the limited external assessment and support services locally. In light of this, policy implications primarily relate to the need to make assessment and support services more accessible, and to prioritise adult guidance counselling, in order to facilitate and encourage participation of adults with suspected and confirmed dyslexia in lifelong learning. This study has also revealed a need for further research in relation progression and provision of support to adult students with dyslexia in the FET sector as it was found to be fragmented and poorly prioritised compared to the Higher Education sector particularly in light of recent and proposed changes in the FET sector (SOLAS 2014).
Cultivating pedagogic agency for the practice of RPL through an exploration of the values and beliefs of RPL assessors Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), allows for all forms of learning to be identified and given value in the context of a destination award within the formal learning system. RPL is increasingly significant for lifelong learning provision in higher education. Recent European policy recommendations have called for higher education institutions to have policies and procedures in place for RPL by 2018. The resulting impetus has increased the focus on developing and delivering RPL provision. This research queries the influence of some of the factors surrounding the cultural acceptance of RPL by academic assessors. Some of the literature reports on a low take up of RPL and queries its effectiveness in broadening participation through the formal recognition of non-formal and informal learning. The literature also reports on the idea of pedagogic agency (Cooper & Harris, 2013), for RPL practice as supported by individual champions of RPL within institutions and contrasts this with the ‘gatekeeper effect’ which in effect acts to discourage RPL applicants and hence influence the cultural acceptance of RPL practice across an institution. This research explores aspects of Cooper and Harris’s notion of pedagogic agency with a view to determining if there are common values and beliefs underpinning an assessor’s attitude towards RPL. Thirty-one assessors were interviewed about their values and beliefs around the assessment of RPL material in a cross sectional study within a third level college in Ireland. Thematic analysis was supported through the creation of a conceptual framework drawing on the work of Bernstein (2000), including the classification and framing of knowledge, and the field of recontextualisation. Analysis resulted in two major themes. The first presents the viewpoints of RPL assessors as primarily defending and maintaining the standards of the formal learning system. However the second theme ‘balancing,’ diverges from this and provides further understanding as to positions taken with the assessment of RPL cases. This second theme lends support to Bernstein’s notion of ‘prospective pedagogic identity’ and the academic assessor’s readiness to engage with novel practices such as RPL.
PHIL O’LEARY AND ANN LEDWITH
Later-life learning in the University Context: how can universities be age friendly? Lifelong learning has been described as an iterative process of moving in and out of education throughout life. It encompasses a wide variety of activities, including learning undertaken in a formal classroom setting, non-formal classes such as clubs and other activities and informal learning through reading books or participation in community activities. Older people form an increasing proportion of our population and will play an increasingly important role in our prosperity and future. At the same time, there is a growing interest globally in provision for the learning needs of older adults. In many countries there are debates giving rise to new policies, which consider the implications of changes in the age structures of the population of individual countries. As older adults become an increasing proportion of the population, it is important to consider the role that later life learning may play in universities in unlocking the potential for productive ageing. Engagement in learning throughout life has been linked to economic, social and health benefits. In order to meet the goals of creating appropriate opportunities that support lifelong learning for older adults in universities and to reap the social and economic benefits of lifelong engagement in learning, it is important that universities do more to address the issues and barriers faced by older adults. The Age Friendly University Since 2012, Dublin City University has worked in a partnership which is seeking to establish â€˜Age-Friendlyâ€™ Universities (AFU)â€™. The initiative is preparing society for the multi-faceted challenges of our ageing demographic. The partners in the project (Dublin City University, Arizona State University and Strathclyde University), are actively encouraging older people to come into higher education institutions and to become involved in shaping university programmes. The age friendly activities being promoted are both relevant and correctly targeted at promoting the quality of life of our older men and women. The partnership involves teachers, researchers and learners working together in the delivery of programmes. Areas such as health and wellness, intergenerational learning, lifelong learning, distance education and cultural activities are all part of the project The AFU programme has developed 10 Principles for an Age-Friendly University. This paper/presentation will examine the rational for age friendly universities showing how this partnership has sought to promote the concept of age friendly universities both within and outside the partnership. The paper will examine and critique the 10 principles and will seek to answer the question as to whether universities can be inclusive of the needs of older people.Scarcity of resources in times of recession provides ongoing challenges for meeting the needs of this group and the challenge for the future will be to ensure that the needs of older adults are not overlooked.
‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’ – exploring identities using Open Space Technology BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH STATEMENT The Irish Further Education and Training sector (FET) sector consists of numerous and diverse learning and teaching environments and contexts, and FET practitioners are equally diverse in terms of their own education, training, professional qualifications, career goals, values and beliefs about learning and teaching, and workplace contexts and ethoses. What sort of professional identities are formed by this diverse group of professionals operating in these very diverse contexts, and how are they being influenced by recent events in the sector? The research reported on here is the first part of a 4 stage research project which aims to explore practitioner identities in the Irish FET sector and the impact of recent changes on those identities. PRESENTATION AIMS: The aim of the proposed presentation is to report on a piece of research that took place in May 2015. Open Space Technology techniques were applied to the facilitation of a consultation session in which 15 FET practitioners, from various different FET contexts, came together to engage with the question, ‘Who are FET practitioners?’. The paper will present the findings of this research which illustrates the confusion and diversity that currently exist within the Irish FET sector around the idea of professional identities. It will also consider the benefits and challenges of using an approach that facilitates participants to design their own agenda on the day, and to engage or leave sessions as they choose… thus throwing out all the rules of traditional workshops. METHODOLOGY: Open Space Technology (OST) was developed by Harrison Owen in the mid 1980’s to bring together diverse people to gather and share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas and suggestions in relation to a key theme or question, usually where there is no clear answer. All participants are self-selected, and viewed as equal in the process. The half day consultation session utilised Open Space Technology techniques. Although there was a clearly stated theme, ‘Who are FET practitioners?’, no prior agenda was designed. Instead, the research participants identified issues that they felt were important to the stated theme. These issues were then grouped to create a number of topics which were allocated time and space to be discussed by the group. 15 FET practitioners (7 male, 8 female), working in Waterford and the surroundings areas took place in the consultation. They were aged between 26 and 65, and had vast experience of working in numerous FET contexts including Youthreach, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), Back to Education Initiatives (BTEI), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Colleges of Further Education, Adult Literacy Services, Community Education, community training centres, community projects delivering FET programmes and private providers of FET programmes.
SARAH BATES EVOY
‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’ – exploring identities using Open Space Technology (cont’d) FINDINGS: Although explicitly directed to address the question ‘Who are FET practitioners?, interestingly, the participants spoke very little about personal and professional identities, focusing instead on the issues which were affecting them on a regular basis within their roles as FET practitioners. Issues relating to structure, macro level policies, module content and learners were raised. Particular concerns of the FET practitioners who participated in the research included the registration and professionalisation of FET practitioners, the national FET structures, and tensions experienced between QQI demands and the needs of learners and/or industry.
SARAH BATES EVOY
'Dropped out or Kicked out?' - The impact of expulsion, informal expulsion and exclusionary practice in mainstream school on early school leavers engaged in adult and community education programmes in Ireland. In the context of early school leaving being considered a major Irish and European policy priority, and in recognition that a country with a high level of early school leaving will struggle to maintain high levels of employment and social cohesion, (European Commission, 2013), this study examines the impact of exclusion from mainstream education on Ireland's level of early school leaving. Specifically this research focuses on adults and young people, who were excluded from mainstream education, either formally, through being suspended or expelled, or informally, through exclusionary practice such as being encouraged to leave. In addition the study examines the motivation behind participantsâ€™ decision to subsequently re-engage with education through Adult and Community Education programmes. As such, the purpose of this study is to broaden our understanding of factors which contribute to early school leaving, juxtaposed with factors which contribute to re-engagement with education. Theory suggests that exclusion from school is the first step towards social exclusion (Duncan & McCrystal, 2002), which impacts on individuals, families, communities and consequently the State. In particular, boys and young men with learning or emotional difficulties from socially disadvantaged groups appear to be most affected by educational exclusion (Parsons, 2013). As such, criminality, drug abuse, gender, special educational needs and class are important facets of this study. Augusto Boalâ€™s Theatre of the Oppressed has been adopted as a research methodology to provoke dialogue on the subject. Theatre of the Oppressed (1993), or TO, has been proven to be particularly successful in community settings as a tool with which to explore situations of oppression, perceived injustice and social exclusion. I worked with participants of Kildare Youth Theatre who investigated the theme of student exclusion, by drawing on their own observations within the mainstream system, and dramatizing a presentation of these observations offering no solution. This dramatization is being shown as a short 7 minute video to small groups of early school leavers, who have directly experienced exclusion, and discussed. The discussion will be recorded, analysed for themes, and presented to academics. In addition, these codes will be presented to Kildare Youth Theatre, who will attempt to incorporate them into a re-dramatization of the initial situation. The findings and redramatization, will be re-presented back to participants. The aim of this presentation will be to present the work which has been carried out to date, including a screening of the dramatization of school exclusion created by Kildare youth Theatre, and to spark a discussion around this topic from the perspective of Adult Educators.
SARAH ELIZABETH MEANEY
Reconsidering ‘flexicurity’ towards a lifelong and lifewide reflexive model ‘Flexicurity’ has been a flagship policy of the European Commission since the 2000s. Promoted in the EU2020 Strategy and seen as a crucial element of the European Employment Strategy, flexicurity simultaneously promotes flexibility and security in the labour market with four main pillars: 1) the development of flexible contractual arrangements, 2) lifelong learning to develop workers' capacity to adapt and enhance their employability, 3) active labour market policies to facilitate transitions to new jobs, and 4) social security to provide adequate income support during periods of unemployment. Flexicurity has been both welcomed and critiqued, but the attention has largely been on employment rights, differential labour markets in Europe, and the development of more modern social welfare systems. Less addressed are the implications of flexicurity for adult education and lifelong learning across Europe. In this paper, we argue that flexicurity as a model must take cognizance of people’s real circumstances and respect their autonomy as lifelong and life-wide learners. For those outside of the labour market this requires the adoption of the types of principles inherent in a reflexive activation model, which are not overly prescriptive in terms of education and learning paths that an individual might pursue. Evidence to support this contention is derived from a small case study in which thirteen women were interviewed about their experience subsequent to commencing part-time adult education programmes in the 1990s. This research indicates that benefits for individuals, families and communities from adult education and lifelong learning include, but are not limited to, work-related skills and employment. Adult education also enhances self-esteem and confidence, tackles educational inequality and promotes social cohesion. These benefits are mutually reinforcing and are the result of a bottom-up and long-term approach. Such an approach places at the centre the needs of the adult learner who together with social services and educational providers set goals on the basis of mutual trust and dignity. We propose that flexicurity should incorporate this understanding of adult education and lifelong learning, which is particularly important when unemployment intersects with low educational attainment. This would mean developing a reflexive activation model that ensures the individual has a role in shaping their educational and employment opportunities and that social institutions and organisations can flexibly respond to their needs and aspirations.
SIOBHAN O’SULLIVAN AND SÉAMUS Ó TUAMA
Motivation to Learn and the Adult Distance Learner Ireland’s current education policy aims to increase participation in, and broaden access to, third level education opportunities. The University level sector has responded by increasing academic programme flexibility and improving access to educational opportunities for a wide range of learners. As a result there has been an increased level of participation by adult learners in Ireland’s tertiary education system. With growing adult learner numbers, educators and education providers are becoming increasing conscious that pedagogical practices and learning support measures must be adapted to accommodate a more diverse student base. Research is required to determine the effectiveness of learning approaches in ensuring academic success for all learners. Previous studies have shown the importance of motivation to learn for academic success but there is a need for more research in order to examine the effect of motivation as a predictor of adult distance learner academic achievement. This paper will present the finding of a recent graduate study (Maters Level) which aimed to investigate the relationship between motivation to learn and academic achievement. Participants were 43 undergraduate distance learning students (mean age: 37.95) at National University of Ireland, Galway. A mixed methods quasi-experimental approach was used. The Motivation and Engagement Scale – University/College (MES-UC) was administered to measure a range of cognitive and behavioural motivational factors: Self-belief, Learning Focus, Valuing, Persistence, Planning, Task Management, Anxiety, Failure Avoidance, Uncertain Control, Self-sabotage and Disengagement. Qualitative interviews were also undertaken. Correlation analysis showed that academic achievement was negatively correlated with ‘Uncertain Control’. No significant correlations were found between the other measured motivation factors and academic achievement. However, adaptive cognitive motivation factors showed a significant positive correlation with adaptive behaviour motivation factors. Qualitative findings highlighted the role of self-efficacy, interest, valuing of learning, goal orientation and learning strategies as a means of facilitating academic success. Adult distance learners score high on the thoughts and behaviours that reflect enhanced motivation. However, they also score high on some of the thoughts that reflect impeded motivation. This indicated that some adult learners seemed to have difficulty in translating their motivation thoughts into motivated behaviours. It also indicated that some adult learners show high levels of anxiety and are unsure of the extent to which they can avoid failure and achieve success in their studies. It is assumed that motivation is a malleable entity and can be changed or influenced in many ways. Therefore, as more and more adult learners engage in third level distance and blended learning programmes of study it would seem prudent for educators to give attention to strategies that can enhance and improve motivation to learn in order to boost academic achievement. Some of the strategies that might work well for adult distance learners are identified and ways of implementing them are reviewed.
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. Title: Liminal space: Transition to Transformation. The experience of adult learners in higher education.
Abstract The transformational learning theory of Jack Mezirow tells us that engaging in education can have profound personal, social and academic impacts on the participants (Mezirow 1975, 1978, 1991, 1998, 2000). The theory of transformation speaks of ‘trigger events’, ‘frames of reference’, ‘habits of mind’ and ‘meaning schemes’ as aspects of transformation. This paper presents the narrative experience of adult learners who returned to higher education. It explores and relates these experiences to the theory and presents evidence of personal, social and academic transformations. Thirty-two narrative interviews were analysed for this research which mapped the lived experience of learners onto the theoretical framework. This paper captures the lived experience of adult learners within the higher education system. It shows the effect that engagement in education has on not only the participating individual but on their families and society. It focuses on the impact of returning to study, the barriers encountered and the supports experienced. It acknowledges their experience of participation while identifying their personal, academic and social transformations. This paper challenges those responsible for the provision of adult and further education to embrace transformative learning and to employ an andragogical approach in teaching methodologies, student support and ancillary services across all adult and further education provision. It has implications for education providers in how provision is structured, the content and the teaching methodologies employed.
Introduction In the world of adult and further education leading theorists such as Jack Mezirow and Malcolm Knowles building on the work of Dewey, Lindeman, Freire, amongst others present us with a theoretical framework on which to build provision. Through the creation of a learning environment built on an andragogical methodology transformative learning is possible. This paper presents an understanding of transformative learning and andragogy drawing on the experience of adult learners in higher education. Transformation theory and transformational learning are, according to Mezirow (1991, 2000), a means by which a person can change their ‘frame of reference’, their ‘habits of mind’; their way of interpreting and experiencing of the world. Evidence is presented here showing how such transformations can actually be experienced through the creation of an adnragogical learning environment. Such a deliberate decision has both implications and challenges for education providers, some of which are addressed here.
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. Transformative Learning Central to transformative theory and the process of transformative learning activities, Mezirow asserts a number of key aspects to transformative learning are: meaning perspectives/ frames of reference; habits of mind; points of view/meaning schemes and the centrality of critical reflection. Meaning Perspectives/frames of reference are, according to Mezirow (1991, 2000), sets of assumptions and expectations held by the person in social, psychological, epistemological, moral-ethical, philosophical, aesthetic domains of a person’s live. These assumptions and expectations can be firmly held and are often difficult to broaden. He suggests that a frame of reference serves as a ‘boundary condition for interpreting the meaning of an experience’ (1991:32) and there is a need to transform a ‘problematic’ frame of reference (2000:20). A problematic frame of reference maybe a belief held from childhood that is no longer useful or helpful as an adult living and interpreting the world. It is by these meaning perspectives that adults make value judgements and develop their belief systems. For Mezirow (1991:42) there are three major types of meaning perspectives: (1) epistemic meaning perspectives, (2) sociolinguistic meaning perspectives (3) psychological perspectives. The importance of these meaning perspectives become very clear when analysing the interview data, particularly when looking to see if the lived experiences of the interviewees relates to the theory of transformation. If transformational learning is taking place then transformational change will be found at these levels of epistemic/academic; sociological/social and psychological/personal. Habits of mind are the ways in which individuals think, feel and carry inherent assumptions about the world. They are, as Mezirow (2000) refers to, the filters through which we see the world: Our psychological preferences are a habit of mind. They filter how we see the world, make meaning out of our experiences, and determine how we reconstruct our interpretations…(2000:190). Mezirow clearly believes that habits of mind, particularly those in the psychological and moralethical field that are unquestioned, may in time cause difficulty for the adult who has developed beyond childhood notions or traumas. Unquestioned habits of mind can become dysfunctional in adulthood. Mezirow believes that habits of mind are more fixed and less easy to change than a point of view. He asserts the need for transformation of habits of mind through transformative learning. Habits of mind can be transformed by what Mezirow refers to as ‘incremental transformations’ and through individuals participating in critical reflection. These processes will lead to transformed points of view. Meaning schemes /points of view are less structured than habits of mind and while they may be more likely to be open to change, however, they are still a significant challenge as they are concerned with individual subjective assumptions. They are: Sets of immediate specific expectations, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and judgments that tacitly direct and shape a specific interpretation and determine how we judge, typify objects and attribute causality (1998:5).
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. Mezirow asserts that it is within meaning schemes that transformative learning can take place. He speaks of ‘learning through meaning schemes’ i.e. learning new developments or aspects of a held meaning scheme; ‘learning new meaning schemes’ i.e. creating new meaning schemes; and ‘learning through transformation of meaning schemes’ i.e. using critical reflection to challenge and change our assumptions (2000:93-94). For Mezirow (1991) it is important to learn through the transformation of meaning schemes so that a persons learning involves reflection upon assumptions. Meaning schemes enable us to construe meaning for our experiences, thus allowing us to learn from the experience, to learn to understand ourselves and others. From Mezirow’s point of view, it is easier for a learning scheme to be critically reflected upon and to transform than the above mentioned frames of reference. Meaning schemes, habits of mind, points of view, can all be transformed through reflection, which may ‘result in the elaboration, creation, or transformation of meaning schemes…’ (1991:5). Again ‘transformations in frames of reference take place through critical reflection and transformations of a habit of mind… (1997:7). The notion of reflection is central to any transformation: The transformation of meaning schemes and of meaning perspectives are, according to Mezirow, two dimensions of transformative learning, the process of assessing old assumptions and creating new interpretations of experience, this he says is the ‘dynamics of everyday reflective learning’ (1991:192). Learning to change the structure of a meaning scheme is transformative, leading to changes in our habits of mind and ultimately in our frames of reference. This change initiates the process of personal transformation. A personal transformation will result in a changed perspective in how we understand, experience and participate in society. It will lead not only to personal change but also to social action. Andragogy Andragogy is identified as the art and science of helping adults learn. Brookfield (2010) refers to the use of andragogical methodologies as the ‘badge of identity’ for adult educators. Andragogy is now synonymous with the writings of Malcolm Knowles. Although popularised by Knowles, he himself acknowledges that he was first introduced to the world of andragogy through the Yogoslavian adult educator, Dusan Savicevic. The term andragogy was in use in 1921 by the German social scientist, Eugen Rosenstock, and in 1957 by a German teacher, Franz Poggeler (Knowles 1989:79). Within the field of adult education Andragogy has worldwide acceptance. The key assumptions of the andragogical model as set out by Knowles (1975, 1980, 1989) are: The learners need to know, their self-concept, the role of the learner’s experience, their readiness to learn, their orientation to learning, and their motivation to learn (1989:83-85). An andragogical approach to learning which has these assumptions will have to provide learning opportunities to adults in a different way than is traditionally supplied for children and younger learners. Knowles (1980) set out some of the implications of adopting these assumptions into practice as: teachers need to have an understanding of the type of student and 3
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. the motivations of adult learners; the need to explore experience and build this into the learning programme; along with increasing the self-directed ability of the learner (1980:45-55). Knowles (1995) offers eight components of an andragogical programme design for adult learners: 1. preparing the learners for the program, 2. Setting the climate, 3. Involving learners in mutual planning, 4. Involving learners in diagnosing their learning needs, 5. Involving learners in forming their learning objectives, 6. Involving learners in designing learning plans, 7. Helping learners carry out their learning plans, 8. Involving learners in evaluating their learning outcomes (1995:5). As with transformative learning, andragogy is also concerned with critical reflection on experience. That learning comes from the adult being able to analyse and reflect on their life experiences to draw meaning and significance. Andragogy is also closely linked with selfdirected learning, as it proposes that the learner presents that which they need to know and set their own goals and accomplishments. Andragogy is most certainly, and without doubt, a lifelong learning process. Impact of engagement Personal Transformations Through their engagement in higher education respondents spoke of joy in the discovery of their own learning styles and intelligence types. This helped them to become more open minded to other opinions, open to seeing things in a new and different way, open to difference. They also experienced a new openness to having their own views challenged and questioned, which they found to be liberating. With this came tolerance. They spoke of being much more understanding, more forgiving and more compassionate towards others. They noticed how they had become much more relaxed in themselves, more reasoned in their thought processes and emotional responses. All of those interviewed stated that they had become more self-aware People spoke of being more aware of both their personal strengths and weaknesses. For some dormant interests were rekindled, while others discovered latent knowledge just waiting to be released. Interviewees experienced awareness of how they learnt and of their desire to learn, their enthusiasm for learning and their interest in new areas of knowledge. Confidence levels increased as a direct result of their participation. Individuals spoke about how they were now more confident to offer an opinion, not just in College, but in wider social situations. Many spoke of entering the course with low levels of personal confidence which they now felt had been reversed. Phrases like ‘increased self-esteem’, being ‘more sure of myself’ and feeling of being ‘more grounded’ were common throughout the interviews. People spoke of themselves having a sense of developing as a person as a result the increase in confidence. They spoke with pride when saying they felt they now had more confidence and belief in themselves, in what they do and what they know. The rise in personal confidence also led to feeling more confident in a variety of social and work situations. People were more willing to speak up, ask questions or seek clarifications. In the past they agreed that they would not have been so inclined. Others spoke about starting new projects at work, proposing new ideas and taking the initiative to improve work practices. 4
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. A number of examples were given, particularly by female interviewees, of how they spoke up when they felt uncomfortable by either what was being said to them or by the tone or content of conversations in the workplace. Again they each said that they would not have had the confidence to do this in the past. Having increased levels of confidence has also led a considerable number of interviewees to consider applying for promotions or changing careers. This they directly attribute to their participation in higher education. Academic Transformations Academic transformations were identified by people as their ability to research, critique, analyse and present information in an academic essay. This newly developed skill was not confined to the academic world but was now pervasive throughout their whole life, from reading the newspaper to social interactions. They described being more analytical in their studies but also in their personal dealings, work life, home life and relationships. Interviewees spoke of thinking in a more critical way, of being able to critique people, places and things, discussions and work situations. They described how their thought processes had become much clearer, how they now were better able to structure their thoughts as a result of being more reflective. They were able to reflect on their learning within the various modules and described how this internalising, this integration of learning permeated throughout their day to day lives. They found they were more ethical in their approaches and dealings with individuals and society. Social Transformations Through participation individuals felt they were now connected to the world in a way they had not previously experienced. They attributed this to their involvement with, and exposure to, the education process. It has had the effect of opening up their minds to a much larger world. Individuals noted that they had become more socially aware of humanitarian issues, more ethically aware of societies structures, politics and governance. Many spoke of amazement that their lives had been insular prior to their engagement in the education process. The opening up of these new horizons also impacted on their own personal lives. They spoke of now having new visions for their own futures, new goals and a new way of understanding the world they inhabit. This is a world of education, a world of knowledge, a world of learning, a world of insight, a world of new possibilities and a world of new interests. People spoke repeatedly of how their learning inside the classroom transcended into their psyche. There was a sense of integrating the academic into the personal. Interviewees spoke of not just learning new knowledge, but becoming aware. They developed an awareness of a larger world to that which they had inhabited previously. This awareness included awareness of social issues that affected not just the person or their local community but wider society. They developed a social conscience. They discovered new horizons of knowledge that as described by one interviewee, ‘pushed their boundaries’ of comfort. There was a genuine sense of discovering that there is more than just one way of seeing and interpreting the world. There was a realisation that societies are complicated and multi-faceted.
Dr. CiarĂĄn Ă“ MathĂşna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. In tandem with this new awareness each individual spoke of it being a liberating experience. They discovered a freedom in multi-vantage points, liberation in becoming open to different perspectives. Their new awareness was truly a new learning experience and, it was positive.
Implications for Providers The number of adult and mature students entering into full-time and part-time education is growing year on year. In 2010/2011, 15% of full-time undergraduates were mature students, this was an increase of 2.7% from the previous year on top of a 6.1% increase on the preceding year (HEA 2012). In part-time provision the number of adult and mature students is as high as 92%. It is estimated that by 2015 the percentage of mature students engaged in full-time education will be 18% and by 2030 - 25% (DES 2011). It is clear that provision of study programmes designed for adult learners will be a growth area in Ireland within the next decade. It is important that such provision is founded on the principles of an adult methodological approach, i.e. andragogy. For such provision to be fit for purpose, it must take into account the experience of adult learners, such as those who have participated in this research, and the conclusions and recommendations drawn from their experiences. Adult education is not merely the provision of a course, which adults attend. It is a philosophy; it is a holistic provision of a learning experience. Adopting such a position will have implications for the providers of such programmes. Programmes must be designed in such a way that they support and encourage the adult learner to achieve, not just academically but also personally. They will need to adopt an andragogical approach and methodological approach appropriate to adult learning. Such a decision will have a direct impact on the recruitment and training of staff. All teaching staff on adult education programmes will need to be familiar with the core principles and philosophical approach and teaching methodology of adult education. Adult education programmes must become flexible in their provision and range of subject choice. This will have implications on the providers resources and brings to the fore the issue of how adult education is financed, particularly part-time education. Many adult learners returning to education are unfamiliar with the world of academia, assisting them in the transition of entering an education programme must be an essential element of any such programme. Adult learners need this transition to be managed in a clear and supportive manner. Instructions and guidelines need to be written and explained in a reader friendly manner. There should be no presumptions on behalf of the provider as to the prior knowledge of the adult learner regarding the academic environment. Academic language, expectations and college procedures need to be explained clearly. The provision of a foundations course as part of the initial transition into third level education is essential for programmes aimed at adult learners. The findings of this study show that students benefited greatly from their initiation through the foundations programme provided. Core elements of any such foundations programme must include the elements of orientation into the new environment of third level education. It must help students with understanding the expectations of the institution, the language of academia, along with managing their own expectations. It must include assistance in study planning, guides and tips, how to research and how to write for the academic environment. Another core element of any foundations programme is inclusion of the philosophy of learning and adult development, learning styles 6
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. and an exploration of the different types of intelligence. Students at this initial stage of returning to study will also benefit greatly from being assisted in discovering their own learning style and intelligence type along with developing organisation skills and self-management for the work ahead. This level of support to adult learners is essential if they are to feel secure and achieve their potential. Supports that work include a mentoring/tutoring system and access to career guidance and counselling, it is important that providers ensure that these services are available to their adult, often part-time, students. Adult learners are active learners. They like, and need to be, fully engaged in their subject. To enhance their learning and opportunities, it is important that those responsible for provision of adult learning must incorporate some, if not all, of the following methodologies. Facilitated classroom discussion and debate; individual and group research projects; classroom presentations by students; reflective practice; assessed assignments, along with the more traditional form of provision. Adults learn best when they are engaged as adults, when their life experience is acknowledged and valued, when they are entrusted with an ownership of the learning process, and when learning is facilitated. An andragogical approach to the facilitating of learning amongst adults is paramount, thus ensuring that the teaching methods employed are appropriate to the learning cohort. Providers must ensure that their courses for adult learners are andragogical proofed and that all teaching staff have an understanding of appropriate methodologies within the adult education sector. There are various methodological approaches which tutors/teachers can employ to enhance, encourage and develop the learning experience of the adult students. Chief amongst these, for adult learners, is creating an environment of respect for the individual’s life experience through engaging in meaningful dialogue. All future provision of adult education courses must be underpinned by the theory of transformation and have a structure in place which promotes and accommodates transformative learning. This will ensure that adult learners will experience education within a transformative learning environment, which will contribute to their personal transformation. Through adopting a transformative learning approach the providers will enable adult students to participate in an active educational environment. Students will be supported and challenged in their learning to become critical thinkers, researchers and analysers. Such provision would encourage praxis of theory and action as putting learning into action is central to transformative learning. This approach will also acknowledge and support the differing reasons for entry into education, life experiences and other commitments. A key element of transformative learning is that the student becomes more socially aware, not just locally, within their own communities, but on a wider, national and international scale. In order to develop this consciousness, it is incumbent on the provider to ensure the opportunity for such learning is facilitated. This can be accommodated through experiential placements, and the provision of course modules focusing on such social and global issues. Courses on social and civil policies, politics, rights and developments can be included in course curricular. These can include modules on history, politics, power and governance, social studies, international studies, developmental studies.
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. As critical analysis is a central element in transformational theory, it is essential that this skill be incorporated into any future adult education programme. It beholds the provider to incorporate into its programmes a course of study which will equip students with the skill of analysis. This can be facilitated by provision of a standalone module or an integrated element within numerous modules. Some of these suggestions may be challenging to educational institutions for logistical and resource issues but, if we are serious about providing meaningful and transformative learning experiences then there is a need for deliberate action. Conclusion This paper set out to examine the nature of transformative learning as experienced by adult learners in higher education. It focused on the theory of Jack Mezirow and mapped the learners experience back to the theory. The findings of the research has shown that if provision is provided through an andragogical approach, with conscious consideration of transformative learning theory, individual, social and academic transformation will happen. With this in mind the final section of the paper focused on the implications this approach has for providers and names a number of suggestions and challenges. If we want something to happen, we must make sure we provide the appropriate environment.
Reference List Brookfield, Stephen. D., (2010) The Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning and Teaching. Open University Press McGraw-Hill. England.
Department of Education and Science (2011). National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030. DES Publications Sales Office. Dublin. Higher Education Authority Higher (2012). Education Key Facts and Figures 10/11. HEA. Dublin. Knowles, M.S. (1975). Self Directed Learning. Association Press. New York. Knowles, M.S. (1980). The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy (Revised Edition). Association Press. New York. Knowles, M.S. (1989). The making of an adult educator: An autobiographical Journey. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.
Mezirow, J. (1978) Education for Perspective transformation: Women’s Re-Entry Programs in Community Colleges. Teachers College at Columbia University. New York. Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco. Knowles, M.S. (1995). Designs for Adult Learning. American Society for Training and Development. Verginia.
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna. Marino Institute of Education 2016. Mezirow, J. (1997) “Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice”. In Cranton, P. (ed.), Transformative Learning in Action: Insights from Practice (pp5-12). New Directions for Adult and continuing Education, no. 74. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco. Mezirow, J. (1998) On Critical Reflection’. Adult Education Quarterly, 1998, 48(3), 185-198.
Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning As Transformation. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.
L I M I N A L S PA C E : T R A N S I T I O N TO T R A N S F O R M AT I O N
Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna Coordinator Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education)
T H I S P R E S E N TAT I O N • • • •
Transition to Higher Education Transformative Learning Andragogical Methodologies Impact and Implications
• Narrative Research • 32 Adult learners
(16 Male 16 Female) • All studying for a BA
M OT I VAT I O N
• • • • •
First Opportunity This is ‘My Time’ Career advancement/ Career Change Unemployment Personal fulfilment
L I M I N A L S PA C E
Being on the Threshold: What is it like for the returning Adult Learner?
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD What encouraged them to make to move? • • • •
Personal contact Welcoming environment Course flexibility Module choice (Self-directed)
T R A N S I T I O N ( A S A H I G H E R E D. S T U D E N T ) What Helped?
• Foundation course • Mentoring /Tutoring system • Adult Environment • Course structure/content
F O U N D AT I O N C O U R S E
Compulsory Initial Module • • • • • • •
Third level environment orientation Academic reading /writing Learning styles Study, planning & preparation skills Group / project work Initial assignment Introduction to Mentoring
T R A N S I T I O N TO T R A N S F O R M AT I O N
Retention & Maintenance
Communication Consistency Supports
T R A N S I T I O N TO T R A N S F O R M AT I O N Creating the environment for transformative learning
Mezirow (Transformation Theory)
Module Design Teaching Methods Assignments Assessment
T R A N S I T I O N TO T R A N S F O R M AT I O N T R A N S F O R M AT I V E L E A R N I N G •
Frames of Reference – Academic – Social – Personal Habits of Mind Meaning Schemes
• • • • •
Critical Thinking/ Analysis Critical Reflection Political & Philosophical discourse Ethics - Challenging assumptions Creating new learning opportunities
T R A N S I T I O N TO T R A N S F O R M AT I O N ANDRAGOGY Experience
Engagement & Involvement
Motivation & Orientation
Teaching Methodologies Consistency across provision Learning Environment
T R A N S I T I O N TO T R A N S F O R M AT I O N I M PA C T S Students • • • • •
New Horizons Social Awareness Academic Achievement Critical Thinking Personal Confidence
I M P L I C AT I O N S For Providers • • • • •
Important to Facilitate Transition Structured Specific Supports Flexibility & Choice Adult Methodology Holistic design of course re Transformative learning and Andragogical principals
Questions & Discussion
T H A N K YO U Dr. Ciarán Ó Mathúna Coordinator Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education) email@example.com
Access Policies in HE and the Cramping of the Sociological Imagination
EUCEN, LIFELONG LEARNING CONFERENCE. REIMAGINING LIFELONG LEARNING,INSTITUTE FOR L I F E C O U R S E A N D S O C I E T Y , N U I G , 1 1 TH D E C E M B E R , 2015,
Access: from the margins to the centre Flexible even hazy term which helps defines the social
purpose of HE in period of ‘mass’ education’ (O’Reilly, 2008; Finnegan, Fleming, Kearns & Loxley, forthcoming). 1990s plethora of policy and legislative documents related to access (University Act 1997; HEA, 2001, 2008, 2014; Skilbeck, 2001 inter alia ). Pervaded by sense of social and economic power of education and reflects national and international imperatives . Initiatives at all levels. Identification of ‘equity groups’ (HEA, 2001) central. Est’d targets. Consistent concern with underrepresentation of working class people in HE.
Social science and policy This reflect the fact that most consistent findings of Irish
social science the existence of enduring class inequalities and the impact this has on experience and outcomes in education .articipation. Patrick Clancy’s influence on access policy has been particularly profound (1982, 1988, 1995, 2001; Clancy & Wall, 2000; see also O’Connell, 2005). Useful in many respects but “categorical approaches are [now] viewed as the only approach with which to conceptualise the relationship between disadvantage, social class and access to higher education” (Bernard 2008 p. 32). Empirical limitations and other gaps in scholarship.
Mind the gaps! God’s eye view of participation patterns Dearth of research on students’ perceptions of value
of HE. Research on obstacles rather than what access students do to get in and stay on. Focus on entry points but little research on destinations. What next? Thin conception of class which has limited explanatory value.
The cramping of the sociological imagination?
Changes and continuities in class inequality Large scale studies indicate enduring class inequalities in
education and society ( Erikson & Goldthorpe, 1992; Wright, 1997 etc.).
Evidence that inequality in wealth and ownership has
become more severe (Harvey, 2005; Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009). Precarity and demonisation of poorest section of working class (Bourdieu et al., 1999; Ehrenreich, 2002; Standing, 2009; Wacquant, 2009).
Over the past decade growing recognition that ‘class
matters’ but need for approach that can map changes in class composition and integrates recent critiques. Importance of polarisation in labour market?
Access from a different angle
81 in-depth interviews with 51 people in Ireland
undertaken in a variety of institutions. Longitudinal dimension. Mix of ages and small middle class cohort. Biographical methods which offer “rich insights
into the dynamic interplay of individuals and history, inner and outer worlds, self and other” (Merrill & West, 2009, p. 1).
Class matters ď‚— Significant impact of socio-economic inequality on
lives. Classed experience in work, communities and prior education. Complex patterns of class identification and disidentification (see also Skeggs, 1997). ď‚— Need to explain social experience and negotiate
welfare, access and other conceptions of class. These are often troubling and in partial conflict with widely held meritocratic notions of HE.
HE: a space of transition? Access universally praised. HE very highly valued I have learnt all these things-these things that have
enriched me so much and made me a much a better person and made me open my eyes up to other people that I would have got wrong years ago” but still a “foreign country” (James). Elaine –”It’s like a river, it’s like there is a river flowing in
between the doers and the ones that tell the doers to do and the thinkers and non-thinkers”
Ger’s story access and staying rooted Access course “took away the [..] scariness”
I tell you, I'm more comfortable in working-class settings than I am in middle-class settings. For me the University is like the ultimate middle-class institution [...] It's always 'Are you going out? Are you going out? Are you going out?’ and if you don't have the money is like 'Get it from your parents'.[..] You're out of your depth here, you don't belong here. I found myself gravitating to the Dubs from the northside because they understand [..]. Well, look at my own area at home out of an estate of a couple of hundred people and the only person I'm aware of in college is me, and I know the estate fairly well
Class pride ď‚— Now I don't make a generalisation here but there
are a lot of students who are in college because that's what mummies and daddies want them to do it because they are upper-middle-class or whatever. But for somebody from a working class background it's a privilege. It is not something that can go to waste
Luke: access and possible futures I mean its plagued [...] like your day as a teacher
would be plagued more with behaviour issues than it would with actually the material you’re trying to teach which I know would bother me a lot. Like I mean, you know, I didn’t study for that long or I didn’t, you know, work at my subjects to stand and just be shouting for eight hours every day. [...]. Obviously I’d like to give back to a community that I came from do you what I mean but eh, just for my own sanity I think I don’t think I’d be able to do it, so...(breaks off)
Luke on class and actual self No, no, no, like I mean, yeah I reckon. I mean it can
be very difficult to be politically correct sometimes you know what I mean? [..] Just I mean, you know, I’d never consider myself...I don’t like it when people, you know, would class people. Obviously it’s not a good thing to do and especially coming from XXXX you know, I’ve probably heard it a lot you know what I mean? Initially [it was] the ‘XXX thing’ before [..] your academic work or your actual self you can be boxed into, you know…I’m from XXX, so you obviously have....
University and class Q: Did that happen to you? A: A few times in first year but I think that was more, I
think that was more because everybody was coming from their own backgrounds and stuff and like I said before the mixing with different people opens new doors I think for everyone. Do you what I mean? [...] all those different social classes are started to mix or whatever and now definitely I’m the other end of it in the final year. I’d never think of a social class. I think probably county before I’d ever think of social class and it’s never an issue do you what I mean. It doesn’t...unless it is actually put on the table, it’s not, it is never really an issue.
Class and identity After college once you have the degree we will all
be on a level playing field, that might be a bit idealistic, maybe because I have been after mixing with the diversity of university I’m probably saying I shouldn’t be classed while I should be classed “Class pollutes this idea of individuality since it challenges people’s autonomy by seeing them as the product of the social background” (Savage, Bagnall & Longhurst, 2001, p. 882).
Some conclusions People “use a language more complicated, more puzzling
than the computations of material well-being than their interpreters use” (Sennett & Cobb, 1977, p. 18). “The stories that people tell themselves in order to explain how they got to the place that they currently inhabit –are often in deep and ambiguous conflict with the official interpretive devices of a culture” (Steedman ,1986, p. 6). “Growing numbers of the working classes are caught up in education [..] as an escape, as a project from maximising and fulfilling the self or complicated mixture of the two" (Reay, 2001, p. 336) in predominantly traditional and middle class HEIs.
Implications for theory, research and access
Framing access with a more vivid sociological imagination Importance of listening to student voices Need for complex, relational conception of what class is and
does. Awareness of continuities and change (Bhaskar, 1979). Trouble the boundaries and practices of the university in order to create genuinely democratic and inclusive spaces of education.
Later-life learning in the University Context: how can universities be age friendly? Rob Mark, Dublin City University Lifelong learning has been described as an iterative process of moving in and out of education throughout life. It encompasses a wide variety of activities, including learning undertaken in a formal classroom setting, non-formal classes such as clubs and other activities and informal learning through reading books or participation in community activities. Older people form an increasing proportion of our population and will play an increasingly important role in our prosperity and future. At the same time, there is a growing interest globally in provision for the learning needs of older adults. In many countries there are debates giving rise to new policies, which consider the implications of changes in the age structures of the population of individual countries. As older adults become an increasing proportion of the population, it is important to consider the role that later life learning may play in universities in unlocking the potential for productive ageing. Engagement in learning throughout life has been linked to economic, social and health benefits. In order to meet the goals of creating appropriate opportunities that support lifelong learning for older adults in universities and to reap the social and economic benefits of lifelong engagement in learning, it is important that universities do more to address the issues and barriers faced by older adults. The Age Friendly University Since 2012, Dublin City University has worked in a partnership which is seeking to establish â€˜AgeFriendlyâ€™ Universities (AFU)â€™. The initiative is preparing society for the multi-faceted challenges of our ageing demographic. The partners in the project ( Dublin City University, Arizona State University and Strathclyde University), are actively encouraging older people to come into higher education institutions and to become involved in shaping university programmes. The age friendly activities being promoted are both relevant and correctly targeted at promoting the quality of life of our older men and women. The partnership involves teachers, researchers and learners working together in the delivery of programmes. Areas such as health and wellness, intergenerational learning, lifelong learning, distance education and cultural activities are all part of the project The AFU programme has developed 10 Principles for an Age-Friendly University . This paper/presentation will examine the rational for age friendly universities showing how this partnership has sought to promote the concept of age friendly universities both within and outside the partnership. The paper will examine and critique the 10 principles and will seek to answer the question as to whether universities can be inclusive of the needs of older people.Scarcity of resources in times of recession provides ongoing challenges for meeting the needs of this group and the challenge for the future will be to ensure that the needs of older adults are not overlooked. Bibliography Allen, J. (2008) Older People and Wellbeing. London: Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR). Mark, R (2013) From Adult Learning to Lifelong Learning in Scotland Chap 84 in Bryce, T., Humes, W. Gillies,D., & Kennedy, A.Scottish Education 4th Edition. Edinburgh University Press Withnall, A. and Thompson, V. (2003) Older People and Lifelong Learning: Choices and Experiences. Research Findings 13, University of Sheffield, Economic and Social Research Council Growing Older Programme. Zull, J. E. (2011) From Brain to Mind: using neuroscience to guide change in education. Virginia: Sterling Publishing. 1
‘LATER LIFE LEARNING AND UNIVERSITIES : HOW CAN UNIVERSITIES BECOME MORE AGE FRIENDLY’ ROB MARK,
DUBLIN CITY UNIVERSITY ‘RE-IMAGINING LIFELONG LEARNING C O N F E R E N C E , N U I , G A L W AY
11 DECEMBER 2015
OLDER LEARNING & THE ROLE OF EUROPEAN UNIVERSITIES •
European Commission invited universities to “be more open to providing courses for students at a later stage of their life cycle”. Such provisions will have a vital role in keeping, retired people in touch with their social environment. ”
education systems not yet to addressing needs of citizens, who have enormous potential in terms of what they can contribute
the growing numbers of retired people in Europe should be regarded as a potential source of educators and trainers for adult learning. (including their contribution to intergenerational learning)
EU POLICY ON ADULT LEARNING: IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN (2006) •
Investing in in the ageing population
“active ageing” policies addressing life both before and after retiring from formal work
ensure a longer working life, there is a need for up-skilling and increasing lifelong learning opportunities for older workers supported by government, professional bodies and sectors.
mid career education.
expansion of learning for retired people is needed (including increasing participation of mature students in higher education),
KEY THEMES IN LIFELONG LEARNING 1.
The economic imperative - enhancing the economic capacity of both individuals, groups and the nation (Davey & Cornwall, 2003; Rothwell et al., 2008).
Personal development: knowledge for its own sake previously linked to the notion of a liberal (adult) education.(few governments feel it is their prerogative to fund).
The active citizen: the informed and critical citizen is part of what it means to be part of a democracy -universities help to democratise society.
Social Inclusion - equality of access for marginalised groups programmes through social inclusion - includes some older people.
HOW DO OLDER PEOPLE FIT INTO THESE CATEGORIES? •
older people in their 60s and 70s continue to work - training and professional development need to be available to all workers, regardless of age (Lindberg & Marshall, 2007).
The idea of continuing to learn for individual development remains strong, especially amid the middle-classes - e.g. University of the Third Age (U3A), older people have asserted their rights to plan, implement and evaluate their own educational opportunities (Swindell, 1999).
Active participation among older adults in civil society remains strong (declines in fourth age). Provide free labour to voluntary organisations. (Tuckett & McAulay, 2005).
Social Inclusion - ‘older person only’ classes; free travel; parking arrangements, mobility scooters and wheelchair access to public facilities.
THE AGE-FRIENDLY UNIVERSITY INITIATIVE The Age-Friendly University Initiative provides pathways to teaching, learning, research, cultural, social, and sports activities for older people, especially those who have not previously had an opportunity to access higher education. In addition, it engages older people who have long been absent from experiencing the abundance of opportunities that participation in higher education brings to all generations.
PRINCIPLES FOR AGE FRIENDLY UNIVERSITIES: LAUNCH 2012
THE PARTNERS Founding Members Dublin City University Strathclyde University Arizona State University Combining ULL with the 10 AFU principles
AGE FRIENDLY UNIVERSITIES: 10 PRINCIPLES •
To encourage the participation of older adults in all the core activities of the university, including educational and research programmes.
To promote personal and career development in the second half of life and to support those who wish to pursue "second careers".
To recognise the range of educational needs of older adults (from those who were early school-leavers through to those who wish to pursue Master's or PhD qualifications).
PRINCIPLES 2 •
To promote intergenerational learning to facilitate the reciprocal sharing of expertise between learners of all ages.
To widen access to online educational opportunities for older adults to ensure a diversity of routes to participation.
To ensure that the university's research agenda is informed by the needs of an ageing society and to promote public discourse on how higher education can better respond to the varied interests and needs of older adults.
PRINCIPLES 3 •
To increase the understanding of students of the longevity dividend and the increasing complexity and richness that ageing brings to our society.
To enhance access for older adults to the university's range of health and wellness programmes and its arts and cultural activities.
To engage actively with the university's own retired community.
To ensure regular dialogue with organisations representing the interests of the ageing population
Based on Principles Agreed 14 April 2012
AGE FRIENDLY UNIVERSITY PRINCIPLES
WHAT SHOULD GOVERNMENTS DO? •
What kind of learning? ( formal / non-formal/informal debate ) Where? By whom? For what ? Opportunities for Accreditation?
Access and Progression - Who will participates in university programmes?
WHAT CAN UNIVERSITIES DO? Universities can embrace opportunities to address the needs of a growing cohort of older learners (50 years + age group) to include: •
Generate additional income streams
Create international collaborations
Enhance institutional reputation
Design and offer new forms of education and service to the local, national and international community
CONCLUSIONS Attitudes to ageing are becoming more positive Developing policy context on ageing Wellness and work are major theme Lifelong Learning in universities has a major role to play in promoting positive ageing.
LIFELONG LEARNING PRACTICE
What’s in a Name? Lifelong Learning Discourses in Further Education Bernie Grummell and Michael Murray Dept of Adult and Community Education, Maynooth University
Introduction The emergence of Further Education and Training (FET) in recent years signifies a decidedly different policy approach to adult education in the Irish context. Different framings of key terms used in further education policy, theory and practice reveal a contested terrain of competing philosophies. This paper explores these shifting discourses of further education, arguing that there is a narrowing of scope in Further Education as it moves from an adult education framing to a narrow training and skills agenda. As a sector, Further Education has experienced the impact of professionalization and performativity in very different ways to other education sectors (Murray et al., 2014). We explore the implications for educators, learners and knowledge in Further Education, based on a discourse analysis of key policy documents. Amongst the key discourses examined are definitions of ‘Further Education’ itself, ‘learnered-centredness’, the role of the ‘teacher/ educator’ and the concept of ‘critical reflection’. A key argument offered here is that the usage of definitions of core terms is neither arbitrary nor insignificant. A common theme centres on what some would perceive as a concerted attempt to ‘de-politicise’ adult learning, to portray it as neutral and benign – which of course is in itself a political position. It constitutes an attempt to exercise significant power over the field and has far ranging implications in terms of knowledge production, practice and learning. Lastly this paper argues for adult learning that offers learners (and wider society) more than employability and labour activation. While acknowledging that employment is a vitally important outcome for many learners, adult and further education can achieve far more
in terms of creating the conditions for critical thinking, which in turn benefits empowered and informed democratic citizens (and workers). Terminology, power and practice A consideration of the workings of power is crucial here. The analysis and interpretation of findings presented here owes much to the work of Michel Foucault and allows for a consideration of power that is multifaceted and multi-layered. His work particularly in relation to governmentality offers a number of useful possibilities for which to examine power differentials at play in Further Education policymaking. Here, the exercise of power has both positive and negative connotations, as well as being simultaneously coercive and self-regulating. Policymaking as a component of the art of governing – or governmentality – incorporates all of these features and centres on the management of populations It is the population itself on which government will act either directly, through largescale campaigns, or indirectly, through techniques that will make possible, without the full awareness of the people, the stimulation of birth rates, the directing of the flow of population into certain regions of activities, and so on. (Foucault, 1994: 217)
The multi-faceted nature of power is encompassed in the notion of ‘bio-politics’ (Jessop, 2007: 37). It is a culmination of a multitude of micro/ macro power networks that ‘...stand in a conditioning-conditioned relationship to a kind of ‘meta-power’...’ (Foucault, 1980: 122). It is this regulatory/ self-regulation dimension that is of particular relevance to the imposition of terminology (and related philosophies). The disciplinary nature of power is crucial here ‘...discipline was never more important or more valorised than at the moment when it became important to manage a population.’ (Foucault, 1994: 219). Crucially, ...the governed are, variously, members of a flock to be nurtured or culled, juridical subjects whose conduct is to be limited by laws, individuals to be disciplined, or, indeed, people to be freed. (Rose et al, 2006: 85) 2
Disciplinary power relies upon claims to “truth” or authenticity. As a consequence, certain views or ‘discourses’ become legitimated, while others are marginalised or subjugated. A clear instance of this, as will be discussed below, is the reframing of adult, community and further education into an employability discourse. Crucially too, discourses go beyond the notion of mere texts or instances of speech. They are also what Foucault referred to as ‘discursive practices’ ‘…in a society such as ours, but basically in any society, there are manifold relations of power which permeate, characterise and constitute the social body, and these relations of power cannot themselves be established, consolidated nor implemented without the production, accumulation, circulation and functioning of a discourse.’ (1980: 93)
As Hunt and Wickham state, ‘discourses have real effects’. They inform thoughts, words and actions and also define what thoughts, words and deeds are marginalised ‘Each discourse allows certain things to be said, thought and done and impedes or prevents other things from being said thought and done… Discourses have real effects; they are not just the way social issues get talked and thought about. They structure the possibility of what gets included and excluded and of what gets done or remains undone…’ (Hunt & Wickham, 1994: 8-9)
Discourses determine whose views are taken seriously and whose views are marginalised. Discourses also determine the content of these views. (ibid) The production of knowledge in this context, is therefore, ‘a major resource of power’ (Hunt & Wickham, 1994: 13). Hence, the use of terminology in further education must be seen, not just as an attempt at a ‘rebrand’, but also as an exercise in power and amounts to a method of subjugation (Foucault, 1980: 96) But subjugation can be a subtle process. Accepting certain terminology is not just a case of adopting a new lexicon – it invariably leads to cooption of thoughts and actions 3
...the modification of the language changes its meaning and its impact. It also means that you quickly forget the point at which you began to adopt the language of the enemy as a strategy to gain acceptance, with the intention of ‘working from within’. It soon becomes ‘second nature’ to you, and the repertoire with which you then make sense of the world. Except that you are likely to be making sense of the world in a significantly altered way, as you become progressively wedded to the concepts and concerns of those who interests might be very different to your own, and into which you have now become incorporated.’ (Thompson, 2007: 33)
Just as importantly, and very significant in the context of recent changes within Further Education, is that dominant discourses are always open to challenge and resistance. While it can be argued that Foucault is decidedly vague on the notion of resistance - ‘…there are no relations of power without resistances...’ (1980: 142), he is much clearer in demonstrating that power is always contingent. While changes have been initiated within the field of Further Education, this has not been achieved within significant contestation, both at European and national levels. This notion of challenge and contestation characterises a deeper, philosophical debate that lies at the core of the future of Further Education and is very much evident in the terminology we examine below.
Defining Further Education in the contemporary context Traditionally, Further Education was defined in broad vocational terms, locating it as part of the general lifelong learning objectives of the adult education sector. This was most evident in The White Paper on Adult Education – ‘Learning for Life’ (2000) where further education is framed within the context of Adult and Community education and was an integral part of a ‘‘lifewide’ commitment in the development of an Adult Education system.’ Interestingly further education in Ireland is primarily defined within policy statements in terms of negation (what it is not) or by listing outputs (such as services, training structures and qualifications)
rather than in terms of what it actually is – for example, its students, pedagogy or learning. For example, The Qualifications (Education & Training) Act (1999), defines further education and training broadly as ‘education and training other than primary or postprimary education or higher education and training’ (our italics).1 Similarly, the Teaching Council define further education as ‘...education and training which usually occurs outside of postprimary schooling but which is not part of the third-level system.’ (our italics) (Teaching Council 2011:, p. 2) This places Further Education in a vacuum-like position; defined by its absence and lack of being. This negates the learning and knowledge base of Further Education in these constant comparisons with other education sectors. The power displayed in this discursive practice of negation and comparison to others raises key questions about the positioning and knowledge claims of Further Education. As a sector, it is continually defined by what it is not, and hence always reliant and reactive to other sectors of education rather than concentrating of what Further Education is; its actual knowledge claims, learning processes and distinctive characteristics. More recent discourses of Further Education – and its relationship to adult education – demonstrates a significant shift in ethos from its vocational roots. Here, the perceived purpose of Further Education would appear to have somewhat narrowed into a training/ reskilling paradigm. For instance, Enterprise Ireland emphasises the centrality of Post Leaving Certificate courses (PLCs). PLC courses ‘...adopt an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience. They are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, as such, are closely linked to industry and its needs.’ (www.enterpriseireland.ie) Most significant is that the Department of Education now views adult education and training within the general framing of Further Education and Training (http://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Further-Education-Training/ - accessed 1
http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1999/en/act/pub/0026/sec0002.html; accessed 4 June 2013
26th May, 2013). The emphasis here overall is on ‘providing skills for work’, with no mention of the importance of issues outlined in the White Paper such as consciousness raising, cultural development and community building. This, it can certainly be argued, demonstrates an attempt to define not just Further Education, but also Adult and Community Education within a new managerial paradigm. In other words, rather than viewing this change as merely a rebranding exercise within this area of education, we argue instead that there are deeper, more ideological issues at work in terms of attempting define the activities of Adult, Community and Further Education. Crucially, the EAEA state that the concept of life long learning itself has gradually moved from its ‘humanistic’ roots towards an ethos which focused on ‘...the needs of the economy for skilled labour with the necessary competence.’ (2006: 8) As we will argue later, it is important to bear in mind that this colonisation of Adult, Community and Further Education by new managerialism is actively being challenged and questioned. Various attempts at a European level to develop both universal definitions of core terms and to produce benchmarks within the “sector”, have been, up until now, been unsuccessful. One of the key reasons for this is that according to the EAEA – What is controversial and philosophically objectionable, even repugnant, to many steeped in the values and tradition of European adult education, is the tendency for lifelong learning, as they see it, to be co-opted to serve liberal economics and a global free trade market.’ (EAEA, 2006: 6) As a result, the EAEA acknowledge the highly politicised and contested nature of adult learning where ‘[d]eep philosophical differences about values and priorities reflect in the use and connotation of different terms...’ (EAEA, 2006: 1)
Professionalization and employability
Such a seismic reframing of Further Education comes at a time of key transition as the Further Education sector becomes professionalized (through Teaching Council professional recognition, SOLAS institutional structures and Quality and Qualification Ireland accreditation systems). Further, this redefinition of Further Education must be also viewed within EU-wide discourses of labour activation and employability – which in essence serves to narrow the scope and potential of Further Education learning. For instance, this occurs on an international scale in terms of EU discourses of lifelong learning which have shifted from ‘learning to be’ to learning to be productive and employable’ (Biesta, 2006, 172). In the Irish context, it is telling that it is now ‘SOLAS’ and not the ETBs that will have ‘overall strategic responsibility’ for Further Education in the country, where again, the focus is on economic benefits. (DES, 2012: 3) Additionally, this has another added impact in terms of epistemological issues around the validity of knowledge production.
Policy changes in Adult and Further Education: The impact on practice The consequences for this fundamental policy shift are significant. For example, this new ethos or discourse influences what is learned and crucially, what is not in relation to adult and further education. According to Biesta, ‘This transformation is not only visible at the level of policy; it also has had a strong impact on the learning opportunities made available to adults, partly through a redefinition of what counts as legitimate or ‘useful’ learning and partly as a result of the reduction of funding for those forms of learning that are considered not to be of any economic value.’ (Biesta, 2006: 169) In order to offer some illustration of the impact on practice, we will briefly examine three core themes or concepts closely associated with adult, community and further education: ‘learner-centredness’, the role of the “teacher/ educator” and the concept of ‘critical reflection’. 7
Learner-centredness One of the key features of adult learning that seeks to differentiate itself from, for instance, second-level education, is that the former is driven by a learner-centred approach to learning. It constitutes a critique what is termed the ‘banking system’ of education where the content of the learning, is conceived and imposed by the educator or educational institution and is characterised by learning strategies of reproducing “legitimated” knowledge and skills, rather than encouraging the development of creative, critical thinking. In contrast, within the adult education tradition, ‘learner-centredness’ is viewed partnership between educators and learners, ‘...the design and implementation of their own educational needs.’ (Connolly, 1996: 39). Further, adult education theorists such as Jack Mezirow would argue that a dialogical and deliberative relationship between educator and students in the classroom or learning space is integrally involved in developing the skills and capacities necessary for democratic citizenship. (Mezirow, 2003: 62) In other words, learnercentredness is not merely a learning tool, it is an exercise in democracy and equality, which ultimately benefits society by encouraging active, and most importantly, critical citizenship. While FETAC itself states clearly that ‘establishing and maintaining the centrality of the learner is now recognised as critical...’ (FETAC, 2005: 4), in practice, this translates into a discernibly narrowed understanding of learner-centeredness. Here, learner orientation seems to be focused on a consultative rather than participatory approach to student involvement in their own learning. For instance, the FETAC ‘Learners Charter’ mentions consulting with learners on ‘...the development and review of policies, awards and our service.’ (FETAC, 2009: 6). Elsewhere, one Irish Further Education college equates ‘learner-centredness’ with ‘independent learning’, which effectively means that students should have access to certain
resources such as computers and the internet, in order to be able participate on certain courses. Overall, it can be argued that the mere imposition of a FETAC-styled assessment/ awards process negates any meaningful consideration of learner-centredness. Biesta points to a fundamental contradiction in this respect – ‘...while individuals are being made responsible for their own lifelong learning, the ‘agenda’ for their learning is mainly set by others.’ (2006 : 176) The role of the Teacher/ Educator The other side of the learning relationship of course involves the educator or teacher. The terms ‘teacher’ and ‘adult educator’ are not necessarily interchangeable – in fact, they can equate to very different learning environments, philosophies and outcomes. A key differentiating factor between adult education and, for instance, second level education is focused on the power dynamics of this relationship. According to Connolly (2007), the “teacher” model is ‘...essentially hierarchical, authoritarian, and undemocratic.’ (2007: 112) In contrast to the learner-centred approach discussed above, the more traditional pedagogical perspective is geared towards ‘...the transmittal of knowledge and skills that had stood the test of time.’ (Knowles, 1988: 40). Within the “teacher” paradigm, Knowles asserts that the learner is conceptualised as dependent upon the teacher, the learner’s own life experience is minimised in terms of relevance and learning occurs from a standardised, subject centred curriculum (1988: 43-4) At a more fundamental level, teacher/ learner power relationship is characterised by the teacher controlling the learning and the student responding, students working with directions and it is the teacher solely who will evaluate the learning. (http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/goalsmethods/learncentpop.html, accessed, 8th April, 2013).
In contrast, an adult learning approach lends itself to self-directed learning where knowledge is challenged and critiqued and not merely accepted and reproduced which has far reaching implications for the notion of working from a standardised curriculum. Group work is critically important here too, where learners act a support and resource for each other, communicating without teacher monitoring and co-evaluating learning along with the adult educator. (http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/goalsmethods/learncentpop.html, accessed, 8th April, 2013) The dynamic of the educator/teacher interacting with the learner in the context of Further Education is recognised by the Teaching Council, who state that ‘Teaching in further education is characterised by learner-teacher relationships based on mutual respect and equality. There is recognition of the professional role of the teacher in responding directly to the individual and collective needs of the learners.’ (Teaching Council, 2011: 9) While this statement would appear to favour a teaching/ learning approach that differs from the more hierarchical approach outlined above, in practice, meaningful deviation from this paradigm can be problematic. At a fundamental level, much of the educator’s approach to working within the Further Education environment is pre-defined by external structures that seem to favour teaching to fixed, measurable outcomes over facilitation and dialogical learning. For instance, many ETBs outline the parameters (as defined by QQI) in which a teacher must develop a ‘scheme of work’. These include referring to a generic programme descriptor that defines the duration of a module, the objectives of a module and the learning outcomes. Working within a rigid system of learning which emphasises performativity and rather than critical thinking is obviously going to impact on how much teachers and learners can “co-learn and facilitate” rather than “teach”. This in turn impacts on the learning environment, as well as the educator’s relationship with the learner. Critical Reflection 10
Critical reflection is a fundamental concept in adult learning and is viewed by theorists and policymakers alike as a cornerstone of the Further Education learning experience. Again however, differing approaches to this concept are indicative of conflicting philosophies and power relationships - they represent very different interpretations of what adult and should be about. At one level, it can be argued that critical reflection is concerned with ‘...learning to reason and reflect about life and the society and culture that we live in.’ (Connolly, 1996: 36) For its part, a report commissioned by the Teaching Council identifies critical reflection as a principle that underline ‘quality teacher education.’ (Conway et al, 2009: xviii). Additionally, the Teaching Council state, in its guidelines for teacher education programmes that teachers should have the competency to ‘describe and critically reflect on the particular features of teaching and learning in the further education sector’, as well as be able to ‘reflect critically on their own teaching skills.’ (2011: 12) The importance of this concept is also reflected in individual learning centres around Ireland, where for instance, centres describe how they facilitate learning, personal growth and critical reflection. For example, County Kildare VEC assert that The reflective process involves thinking and analysing actions with the aim of improving practice. This requires consideration of what has been done, the process and the outcome...A tutor should promote the idea of the reflective process with learners. By doing this, they will begin to recognise what has and has not worked for them and then apply it to other tasks. (2013: 22) While there is something of a consensus between different philosophical positions that critical reflection is an integral part of the educating/ learning process, “context” is crucial here. while developing the capacity to critically evaluate ideas or one’s own practice is obviously important, it can certainly be argued that the above quotation underlines a limiting notion of ‘critical’ which limits it to study skills and professional practice. For others, the “critical” aspect asks for consideration of the broader power relationships and structures that contribute to how we construct our worlds, but also and more pointedly, it seeks to transform 11
influences or ‘hegemonic assumptions’ (Fook, 2006: 3) which are conceptualised as inegalitarian, unjust and discriminatory. In this context, critical refection is associated with ‘emancipatory learning’, it is a core component in raising critical awareness of oppressions (Connolly, 1996: 37-8) and constitutes ‘...the ability to understand the social dimensions and political functions of experience and meaning making, and the ability to apply this understanding in working in social contexts.’ (Fook, 2006: 10) However, critics of the Teaching Council discourse will argue that the discourse on critical reflection that is being adopted for Further Education removes any serious consideration of linking education to creating the conditions for a more just and equal society. As a result, critical reflection and learning within Further Education is essentially about developing study skills, “good practice” and, crucially, adhering to existing economic and societal power relationships rather than challenging them.
Conclusion The contemporary drive to redefine and rebrand Further Education, along with the impact of professionalization/ performativity on practice and learning has wider implications for society. The recent changes in relation to Adult, Community and Further Education reflects broader trends at a transnational level where lifelong learning in general is increasingly equated within the narrow margins of employability. One consequence of this, according to Brine (2006) is the emergence of a two tier system of adult learning – those who are ‘High knowledge-skilled’ learners (associated with higher education and the ‘knowledge economy’) and those who are ‘Low knowledge-skilled’ learners (associated with adult and further education and the ‘knowledge society’). In a system designed to promote employability, it the jobs themselves – the designated outcome – that are punctuated with inequality. Brine argues that the future belongs to ‘High knowledge-skilled’ learners, while the low knowledge skilled 12
learners will continue to work within ‘classed and gendered low-skilled’ jobs, effectively servicing the needs of the knowledge economy. This is viewed as a ‘surplus population’ who ‘move in and out of insecure or temporary employment’ (2006 : 661) Just as crucially, the precarious nature of jobs and employment is also a key feature of those who work within Further Education as well and according to Standing (2014) is becoming a salient feature of contemporary society. We contend here that Further Education needs to maintain the critical stance and ethos of adult education theory and practice – including a commitment to social justice and equality. We further argue that the kind of knowing prioritised through education has a direct effect on the quality of political citizenship and democratic participation in general. A danger here is that education is deprived of its role in encouraging questioning, critical citizens to be replaced by compliant/ obedient workers who do not or cannot take issue with “common sense” assumptions made by policymakers – we suggest that that the recent history of Ireland underlines the importance of having citizens who will ask so called “awkward questions”. Ultimately, as Shaw and Martin suggest ‘[d]emocracy is sustained by the agency of the critical and creative citizen, not the conformist citizen.’ (2005: 85) References Biesta, G. 2006. ‘What’s the point of lifelong learning if lifelong learning has no point? On the democratic deficit of policies for lifelong learning’ in European Educational Research Journal, Vol. 5, No. 3&4 : 169-180 Brine, J. 2006. ‘Lifelong learning and the knowledge economy : those that know and those that do not – the discourse of the European Union’ in British Educational Research Journal, Vol. 32, No. 5 : 649-665 Connolly, B. 1996. ‘Community development and adult education: Prospects for change?’ in Connolly et al (eds) Radical Learning for Liberation. Maynooth : MACE Connolly, B. 2007. ‘Beyond the Third Way : New Challenges for Critical adult and Community Education’ in Connolly, B (eds) Radical Learning for Liberation 2. Maynooth : MACE
Conway, p. et al. 2009. Learning to teach and its implications for the continuum of teacher education. Cork : UCC County Kildare VEC. 2013. Guidelines for Tutors of Programmes Leading to QQI (FETAC) Awards. Kildare : VEC Department of Education. 2000. Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education. Dublin European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA). 2006. Adult education trends and issues in Europe. Brussels : EAEA FETAC. 2005. Further Education and Training in Ireland – A Quantitative Analysis of the Sector. FETAC FETAC.2009. Information for Learners: Guidelines for Providers. FETAC Fook, J. 2006. ‘Beyond reflective practice : reworking the “critical” in critical reflection’ Keynote for “professional lifelong learning : beyond reflective practice”, Standing conference on university teaching and research in the education of adults (University of Leeds). Available at http://mcgraw-hill.co.uk/openup/fook&gardner/resources/5.c.pdf. Accessed 5th of June 2013. Foucault, M.1980. Power/ Knowledge – Selected Interviews and other Writings. New York : Pantheon Books Foucault, M. 1975. Discipline and Punish. : London : Penguin books Hunt, A & Wickham, G. 1994. Foucault and Law. : London : Pluto Press Jessop, B. (2007) ‘From micro-powers to governmentality: Foucault’s work on statehood, state formation, statecraft and state power’ in Political Geography, Vol. 26 : 34-40 Knowles, M. 1988. The Modern Practice of Adult Education. Cambridge : Cambridge Book Co. Mezirow. J. 2003. ‘Transformative Learning as Discourse’ in Journal of Transformative Education. Vol. 1, No. 1 : pp58-63 Murray, M. J., Grummell, B. and A. Ryan 2014 Further Education and Training in Ireland: History, Politics, Practice. (eds) MACE: Maynooth Rose, N et al. 2006. ‘Governmentality’ in Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 2 : 83-104 Shaw, M & Martin, I. 2005. ‘Translating the art of citizenship’ in Convergence, 38, No. 4 : pp85-100Standing, G. 2014. The Percariat – the new dangerous class. Bloomsbury : London The Teaching Council. 2011. Further Education: General and Programme Requirements for the Accreditation of Teacher Education Qualifications. The Teaching Council Thompson, J. 2007. ‘’Really useful knowledge’: Linking theory and practice’ in Connolly et al (eds), Radical Learning for Liberation, Maynooth : MACE
'BREAKING THE BARRIERS': A REFLEXIVE APPROACH TO ADULT EDUCATION AND LIFELONG LEARNING Siobhan O’Sullivan, Séamus Ó Tuama and Will Denayer ACE at University College Cork, Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
HELLIN EUCEN Conference Galway, December 2015
Flexicurity More flexible labour markets: enter and leave work/education throughout life
Retain European way of life of citizenship, social cohesion and solidarity
Tools to Participate
Percentage of persons aged 15 or older that are educated to primary level or less
Percentage of persons aged 15 or older that are educated to degree level or higher
mutually supporting avoid poverty and exclusion
ETF Activation provide an adequate income
get job seekers into jobs
Top-down Unemployment caused by lack of motivation
Emphasis away from mutuality
Poor recognition of context, qualifications, suitability
Sanctions for noncompliance Direct to courses and work
Little Steps to Bigger Steps • Step one: an 'easy' course, something that they personally liked, something close to their interest and lifeworld and it gave them energy and self-confidence • All took subsequent steps • Gained formal qualifications • Much better employment profiles
Drop a pebble in a Pool
Many interviewees told us that going back to education was the very best thing that they ever did for themselves in their life. Wider societal impacts: children, siblings, partners and friends were energized to engage positively with formal education
Lin:Three Benefits of Social Networks information Flow: ‘useful information about opportunities and choices otherwise not available"
Validation of a person’s social credentials — reinforcement of identity
Opens the possibility to leverage the support of a well placed institutional actor
Granovetter: strong and weak social networks â€˘ Resilient communities have vibrant clusters of strong social networks â€˘ Can be isolated from wider networks. â€˘ Essential to extend weak social networks past the community
‘I met a lot of other people, people from other backgrounds, other age groups’
‘I started to see myself in a way that I have never looked at myself before’
• Extending Weak Social Networks
• Identity Capital
‘I am sure that the impact on my family was huge...’
‘I am the only one of my family with a university degree. But not for long anymore, because my kids are in college…
• Reshaping Strong Social Networks
• Breaking Cycle of Educational Disadvantage
Mature students in higher education: strategic priorities or “seat fillers”? Clodagh Byrne Mature Student Officer Trinity College Dublin Introduction Change in higher education is endemic (McRoy & Gibbs, 2009). The impact of global capitalism, the challenging global economic climate and the predominance of a neoliberal agenda has shaped much of this change in recent times. This practitioner led research considers how neoliberal ideologies, and in particular new managerialism, is shaping and steering Irish higher education (HE). More specifically, it considers whether or not mature student participation is deemed to be a strategic priority at institutional level in five Irish HE institutions. New managerialism The history of neoliberalism, as outlined by Jones (2012), has three distinct phases. From its emergence in 1920s Austria and Germany to the influence of Friedrich von Hayek in the 1950s and Milton Friedman in the 1970s, neoliberalism has been an ever present and influential capitalist economic movement. It promotes free market economics, small state sectors, privatisation, deregulation and individualisation. New managerialism, according to Lynch, Grummell and Devine (2012), is the “management strategy for neoliberalism” (p. 89). Pollitt (2014) cautions that new managerialism is not identical to neoliberalism but concurs that “it has proved quite a good fit” (p. 5). According to Ferlie, Pettigrew, Ashburner and Fitzgerald (1996), “there is no clear or agreed definition of what new public management is” or indeed “ought to be” (p. 10). In attempting to build a typology of new managerialism, they have identified four distinct models: the efficiency drive; downsizing and decentralisation; in search of excellence; and public service orientation. Cognisance is paid to all four models throughout this research.
Policy context A mature student is defined as a student who was 23 or over on the 1st of January in the year of entry to a higher education institution. They are a diverse group.
Nationwide, mature new entrants range in age from 23 to 70 years and over. Mature students hail from various socio-economic backgrounds and have a wide variety of distinctive aspirations - some are interested in up-skilling, others are fulfilling lifelong ambitions. Mature student participation rates remained static at 11 percent from 2006 to 2008 but increased to 15 percent in 2010, possibly due in part to the demise of the Celtic Tiger and an increased demand for re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities. Although mature student participation has increased significantly in recent years, it falls short of the 20% national target set by the National Access Office (Higher Education Authority (HEA), 2008). The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, (“Hunt Report,” Government of Ireland, 2011), outlines the vision and mission for education in Ireland for the next fourteen years. Education, it states, is key to rebuilding “an innovative knowledgebased economy that will provide sustainable employment opportunities for all citizens” (p. 9). Investment in education is key to “job creation and innovation” and “central to renewal” (p. 9). The report propounded new approaches to funding institutions and more effective systems to drive performance and accountability. While few would deny that the visions outlined in the Hunt Report (2011) are not valid and worthy, when viewed through the lens of lifelong learning the image becomes more problematic. In mapping HE policy in Ireland from the publication of the Investment in Education Report in 1965 to the publication of the Hunt Report (2011), Walsh and Loxley (2014) assert the enduring dominance of the “human capital paradigm” (p. 3). This promotion of human capital over social and cultural capital, runs many risks: at an individual level personal autonomy is compromised; at a broader level this erosion of autonomy poses a significant threat to lifelong learning (Schuller, 2003). How this “human capital paradigm” impacts on the practices that relate to mature student participation in HE, will be explored in this research. Towards “meaning making” (Burke, 2012) This paper presents the findings of case study research undertaken using pragmatic sequential mixed methods. It considers whether or not mature student participation is deemed to be a strategic priority at institutional level. To ensure representation across the HE sector, five HEIs were identified in terms of profile, age, type and geographical location: 2
1. Institution A: Institute of Technology, rural location 2. Institution B: Well-established university, rural location 3. Institution C: University, urban location 4. Institution D: Well-established university, urban location 5. Institution E: Institute of Technology, urban location A review of mature student target and participation data allowed for an analysis of institutional commitment to the cohort. These results fed into qualitative semistructured interviews with institutional leaders (ILs), under whose remit mature participation falls, and with mature student practitioners (MPs), responsible for the recruitment, integration and support of mature students. The results are presented below. Mature student participation in higher education Before progressing to an analysis of the data, it should be observed that noteworthy outcomes arose from the data collection process itself, in that all mature practitioners expressed a level of difficulty in obtaining basic participation rates for mature students in their institutions. Institution E took part in the interview process but was unable to supply requested data. Further, all institutions expressed insecurity in relation to the data supplied. However, Table 1.1, below, gives us an accurate outline of institutional targets for the period 2009-2014, and offers us an indication of the level of mature student participation per institution, thus allowing us to assess the level of commitment to mature participation. Table 1.1: Mature participation rates and institutional targets, 2009-2014 Mature participation rates (P) and institutional targets (T) as a percentage of all F/T UG students 2009
No data supplied
Institutional targets In respect of targets for mature participation, in 2009 and 2010, Institutions A and C set targets in line with the national target at 20 percent, while Institution B set a target of 15 percent. Institution D’s target is12.5 percent below the national target at 7.5 percent. From 2011, onwards, Institution A was the only institution to maintain the national target. Institutions B and D maintained their 15 percent targets, while Institution C dropped their target by 5 percent to 15 percent. What are most pertinent from these data are the differentials between the highest target of 24 percent (Institution A) and the lowest target of 8.5 percent (Institution D). Mature participation rates Mature participation rates vary across all institutions. Institutions A and D consistently meet and exceed their set targets, while Institution B performs consistently well over all years to 2014. However, Institution C sets ambitious targets that it consistently fails to meet. Institution A, with an average participation rate of 24.8 percent over the six year period, is remarkable in its willingness to exceed their target and to facilitate such high levels of mature participation. Compact agreements From 2008 to 2013, institutions made their commitment to mature student participation via institutional Access Plans. In 2014, these commitments were negotiated directly with the HEA as part of compact agreements linked to funding. Consequently, a small proportion of core grant funding is retained and then allocated based on performance against agreed targets. In the context of the data outlined above, this so-called “top-slicing” is proving challenging for both the under and over achievers: They say: ‘we want to measure your progress and we’ll top slice some of your money and give it back to you when you’ve achieved.’ That’s a very reasonable thing to expect and that’s accountable, that’s accountability and that’s proper coordination and management and that’s – that’s all fine. It is when somebody says ‘increase your mature students’, ours are already up, ‘why aren’t you increasing them further?’ We’ve nobody. . . . We get penalised for not increasing something when they’re not there, you know? (Institution A, IL) I think the universities are very concerned about the top slicing . . . creating competition amongst institutions for a very tiny slice of something that every
institution needs on the basis of its existing student numbers. I mean that is a concern, for sure. (Institution D, IL)
The creation of competition between institutions for “top-sliced” funding, at a time when system reconfiguration is dictating that institutions must work together on funding applications, has created a palpable tension and the need to adopt “a dual identity of collaboration and competition” (Institution B, IL). Interestingly, of the five participating institutions, only the MP in Institution A was consulted regarding the setting of mature student targets. Mature students as a strategic priority? When participants were asked if mature students are considered an important cohort in their institutions, there was a unanimous wave of agreement that they are valued students. Institution A stated that there were “massive champions” supporting their work in the institution (MP). Institution E highlighted their contribution to class as “fantastic” but added “I could be mercenary and say we just need them here because we are dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s” (IL). Institution D recognised that while they are important “they are probably more under-represented than they should be” (IL). Table 1.2, below, highlights the strategic priorities identified by the ILs. These are juxtaposed with the responses from both the ILs and the MPs on the question of mature students as a strategic priority: Table 1.2: Institutional priorities vs. mature students as a strategic priority Institution
What are the strategic Is mature student participation a strategic priorities of your priority? institution? Institutional Leader Mature Practitioner -Increase student “Yes, it is” “I do feel that access is a numbers (including good priority” international) -Increase our reputation for relevant, bespoke programmes -A significant increase in “Yes. Mature students “Yes, I do. I think they are our student numbers will feed into this very much part of it” increase”
-Research -Internationalisation -Producing “work ready” graduates -Community development
“I don’t think so. There’s a paradox if you are making [an international experience] compulsory . . . it kind of goes
“I would hope that they would always remain that. Absolutely!”
-“Renewing” our education -Financial viability -International feel to the campus
-Being student centric -The student experience -Educating the student for the labour market
against the mature student agenda” “Renewing our education feeds into other issues about the diversity of the student body”
“Yes, they are. The President is very, very aware . . . but you have to keep shouting loud enough . . . keep including them on the various agendas”
“Yes and this is expressed formally in writing and by staff across [the institution] who speak positively about mature participation in College” “The fact that there is additional funding makes it a priority . . . but I don’t think it’s really high on the agenda”
For Institution A, with mature student participation exceeding the national target, the international cohort was deemed to be the strategic priority. Institution B was the only institution to mention access and participation as a strategic priority, in the context of significantly increasing student numbers. Despite the overwhelming positivity expressed by all participants for the mature student cohort, the response to the question of mature students as a strategic priority was met with trepidation by some. The IL in Institution C identified a significant barrier to mature student participation due to a college policy requiring all undergraduate students to engage in an international exchange, although some disagreement emerged here with the MP who saw mature student participation as a priority. The IL and the MP in Institution E were both tentative about the institutional will to place mature participation high on the agenda. For them, mature students are used by some academic departments as “seat fillers late in the day” while others choose not to admit mature students at all (MP). For Institution D, increased mature participation was seen as a by-product of wider reform and renewal of college education and not as a strategic priority in itself. Global rankings Another potentially significant influence on mature participation is the growing importance of league tables and global rankings. Table 1.3, below, captures the Institutional Leaders’ responses to a question on the influence of global rankings on their institution, coupled with their mature participation rates for 2013 and 2014. 6
Table 1.3: Global rankings vs. mature participation rates, 2013 and 2014 Do you think institutional priorities are shaped by global Participation rates rankings? Institution Institutional Leader 2013 2014 A “Frankly . . . no consequence . . . not interested. I 26% 25% think it would be an unconstructed distraction” B 13% 10% The institution “isn’t scoring very highly on those” C 9% 7.5% “I would definitely say so . . . the whole thing is about research now . . . it’s all about global rankings” D 8% 7% “Elements of global rankings, if you disaggregate them, are exactly the things we want to excel at” E “Rankings are not important but it is important that unknown unknown the student gets the best quality parchment they can get”
It is interesting to note that those most concerned with global rankings, Institutions C and D, have the lowest mature student participation rates for 2013 and 2014. The correlation between lower mature student participation and greater preoccupation with global institutional rankings is striking. Inflexibility While it was acknowledged in the interviews that “creating sufficient flexibility in our programmes is absolutely key for widening participation” (Institution D, IL), the inflexibility of HE was highlighted by four of the five participating institutions as barriers to mature participation and success. The interviews show that this inflexibility is a direct result of a system designed with the standard eighteen year old college entrant in mind and based on a rigid academic year structure. We should be asking “can we make this easier?” (Institution E, IL). But, instead, mature students are being asked to fit into this “one size fits all” conception of HE. From the interview data it emerged strongly that “mature student offices/access offices” and “lifelong learning centres”, where they exist, are seen as two distinct and separate domains within the institutions. According to Institution A, “lifelong learning is a department in its own right” and “they have a different reporting line” (MP). Institution C recognises that “there isn’t enough of a connection between us” and that the lifelong learning centre and the mature student office have yet to find a way to “work together more cohesively” (MP). Furthermore, the “limited expression of lifelong learning” in HE was noted as a distinct challenge (Institution D, MP). Bridging the gap between 7
access and lifelong learning represents a significant challenge and, indeed, a lost opportunity for the institution, its staff and prospective students. Data The difficulty that each participating institution encountered in supplying data, and the unease with which each institution stood over their figures, is due, in part, to definitions. On the surface, the definition of a mature student appears straightforward. However, during the interviews, many questions arose: Do we include Further Education and Training Awards Council students over 23 years? Do we include those who apply to the Central Applications Office on Leaving Certificate points? Are we counting the same students in our returns to the HEA? I’m not convinced that what’s being returned to the HEA is the same as what [other institutions] are returning to the HEA. So when you see these facts and figures that I am looking at, at the moment, I can’t be sure they are comparable, which is very, very, frustrating. It’s the most frustrating thing. (Institution B, MP)
If mature students really count, then why are we not attempting to count them correctly? In an age of quotas, measurement and “top-sliced” funding, the management and acquisition of reliable data, based on solid definitions, would appear to be critical. Attempting to define such a heterogeneous group of students is not the aim or suggestion here. The act of labelling will not foster subjectivity and acceptance. However, recognition may facilitate a move to a system that supports mature student participation. Learning for earning? Institution C views research, their primary strategic priority, as intrinsically linked to internationalisation and to “the whole education towards employability” agenda (IL). The “drive for excellence and knowledge” and the “continual demand for highly skilled, highly paid jobs” are seen as “driving education to produce these people” (Institution C, IL). Further, Institution D cautions about the impact that serving the economic need has on the university’s mission: Obviously one of the big priorities is about the university serving the economic needs of the country and the skills needs, and I think that that’s one of the roles of the university. I don’t think the university mission can be collapsed into that, and I think there’s a danger of that. (Institution D, IL)
Institution B, where a “virtuous cycle” has ensured consistently high participation, claims to put “societal needs ahead of selfish institutional needs” (IL). The IL in Institution E sums up the shift in focus succinctly: “Gosh, in my day, education was very much just about being educated. It was about reading Philosophy”. According to Biesta (2006) lifelong learning has “increasingly come under the spell of an economic imperative” (p. 171). The shift from lifelong education to “learning for earning” is reflected in the data above and, as outlined by Walsh and Loxley (2014), is a dominant thread that runs through education policy documents (Biesta, 2006, p. 172). The promotion of the economic dimension of lifelong learning over the personal and democratic dimensions signals a shift in the intrinsic value of lifelong education towards economic growth (Biesta, 2006). Resources The tension between high mature participation targets, and policies and drives influenced by new managerialism, present significant challenges for mature student participation. These challenges are exacerbated by a lack of adequate resources devoted to mature student recruitment. Institution B recognises the resource-intensive nature of mature student recruitment: Mature student recruitment is not about large public campaigns. It’s more about heavy lifting on the ground: Being out at mature student centres; being where the mature students are learning. (Institution B, IL)
The “heavy lifting” required to meet participation targets, if achievable at all, demands additional resources. However, in the current climate, these are unlikely to be forthcoming: There is one full-time staff member. I don’t think there would be any member of management dreaming that there’s going to be two and a half by this time next year or that there’s going to be lots more funding thrown at the recruitment of mature students. I don’t think it’s something that’s really high on the agenda to increase the number. (Institution E, MP)
This would appear to be the crux of the paradox: institutional targets, some of them ambitious, are set for mature participation, but the resources allocated to achieving them are insufficient. Real commitment to the mature cohort, therefore, would appear to be questionable.
The hierarchical stratification of higher education Archer’s (2007) concept of “geographies of power” provides a useful tool for analysis. Archer claims that “horizontal diversity”, that is, the plurality of institutional forms that appeal to different customers’ needs, particularly in the context of the knowledgebased economy, has the effect of rendering institutions as either gold, silver or bronze (Ainley, 2003). According to Archer’s model, Institution D represents a gold institution, a selecting university capable of recruiting the brightest and the best. Demand for places across all cohorts of students in Institution D facilitates the maintenance of low but acceptable mature participation rates. This reflects Archer’s (2007) contention that such institutions are “legitimated” in having lower participation rates because prestigious activities, such as research, are considered their “legitimate/authentic domain” (p. 641). While Institution E was unable to provide target and participation data, the interviews show that mature students can be considered “seat fillers” should late vacancies arise. This supports Archer’s claim that bronze institutions act as clearing institutions, that is, institutions that are less competitive and where vacant places are filled late in the day. Silver institutions, representing Institution C, have more modest national remits. Categorising participating institutions into hierarchical stratifications was not the objective of this research, but the ease with which participating institutions fit this framework of analysis was striking.
Global rankings, though not a concern for all, are often “trumpeted” as providing students with informed choices, but they are “much more about geo-political positioning” and the worldwide “battle for excellence” (Hazelkorn, 2014, p. 14). The data presented here has shown that the two urban universities most concerned with global rankings have the lowest mature participation rates, suggesting unequal patterns of choice. More alarmingly, the data suggests that mature students are losing out in the quest for internationalisation and global status.
Conclusion Unequal patterns of choice are intrinsically linked to the concept of â€œgeographies of powerâ€?. That gold, silver and bronze institutions can be clearly mapped to the Irish context, and that a reverse hierarchy of mature participation exists therein, demonstrates the autonomy that institutions hold in managing mature participation and shows that some are more committed than others. Indeed, it could be argued that the HEA, via institutional compacts, is sanctioning this tripartism by facilitating the maintenance of the status quo. As the data confirms, those currently exceeding the national target are expected to increase their mature participation rates by the same level as those currently 12 percent below. This stratification of HE, coupled with inherent inflexibility and a critical lack of resources, signals a lack of genuine commitment to the mature cohort at a national level.
References Ainley, P. (2003). Towards a seamless web or a new tertiary tripartism? The emerging shape of post-14 education and training in England. Higher Education Quarterly, 51(4), 390-407.
Archer, L. (2007). Diversity, equality and higher education: a critical reflection on ab/uses of equity discourse within widening participation. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(5), 635-653.
Biesta, G. (2006). Whatâ€™s the point of lifelong learning if lifelong learning has no point? On the democratic deficit of policies for lifelong learning. European Educational Research Journal, 5(3), 169-180.
Burke, P. (2012). The right to higher education: Beyond widening London: Routledge.
Ferlie, E., Pettigrew, A., Ashburner, L., & Fitzgerald, L. (1996). The new public management in action. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Government of Ireland (1965). Investment in education: Report of the survey teams appointed by the Minister for Education in October 1962. Dublin: The Stationery Office. Government of Ireland (2011). National strategy for higher education to 2013: Report of the strategy group. Dublin: Government Publications Office. Hazelkorn, E. (2014). Reflections on a decade of global rankings: What we have learned and outstanding issues. European Journal of Education, 49(1), 12-28. Higher Education Authority (2008). National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2008-2013. Dublin: HEA. Jones, D. S. (2012). Masters of the universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the birth of neoliberal politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Lynch, K., Grummell, B., & Devine, D. (2012). New managerialism in education: Commercialization, carelessness and gender. Palgrave Macmillan: London. McRoy, I., & Gibbs, P. (2009). Leading change in higher education. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 37(5), 687â€“704.
Schuller, T. (2003). Three capitals: A framework. In T. Schuller, J. Preston, C. Hammond, A. Brassett-Grundy, & J. Bynner (Eds.), The benefits of learning: The impact of education on health, family life and social capital (pp. 1233). London: Routledge Falmer. Walsh, J., & Loxley, A. (2014). The Hunt Report and higher education policy in the Republic of Ireland: â€œAn international solution to an Irish problem?â€? Studies in Higher Education. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2014.881350.
Mature students in higher education: strategic priorities or â€œseat fillersâ€?? Clodagh Byrne
Mature Student Officer Trinity College Dublin HELLIN 11th December, 2015
Overview • Background • Definition of a “mature student” • Research design and approach • Data and emergent themes • National funding challenges • Theoretical framework/analysis • Conclusions
Background â€˘ Who and what is shaping and legitimising current mature student policy and practice?
â€˘ The impact of new managerialism on institutional policy and practice relating to mature student participation in higher education in Ireland â€˘ New managerialism: Lynch, Grummell and Devine, 2012; Ferlie, Musselin and Andresani, 2008; Deem and Brehony, 2005
The definition of a “mature student” • A mature student is defined as a student who was 23 or over on the 1st of January in the year of entry to a higher education institution • They are full-time, undergraduate students
• First-time entrants • Diverse group in terms of age and aspirations
Research design and approach • Strong focus on critical reflexivity and research praxis • Case study using pragmatic sequential mixed methods
• Focus on the experiences of mature practitioners (MPs) and institutional leaders (ILs) rather than the experience of mature students per se • 5 diverse institutions in terms of profile, age, type and geographical location participated
Cont. Profile of participating institutions:
• Institution A: Institute of Technology, rural location • Institution B: Well-established university, rural location • Institution C: University, urban location • Institution D: Well-established university, urban location • Institution E: Institute of Technology, urban location
Data collection • MPs supplied mature student target and participation data and gender data for 2009-2014 • All MPs took part in semi-structured interviews • This was followed by semi-structured interviews with ILs
National mature participation target rates Years
National Office for Target Equity of Access to Higher Education (NAO) National Access Plan 10%
National Access Plan 20%
Institutional Access Plans
Towards the next 16% National Access Plan
Compact agreements negotiated with HEA
National Access Plan ?
Compact agreements negotiated with HEA
Gauging institutional commitment Mature participation rates (P) and institutional targets (T) as a percentage of all F/T UG students 2009
No data supplied
HEA compact agreements/top-sliced funding • [The HEA] say: ‘we want to measure your progress and we’ll top slice some of your money and give it back to you when you’ve achieved.’ That’s a very reasonable thing to expect and that’s accountable, that’s accountability and that’s proper coordination and management and that’s – that’s all fine. It is when somebody says ‘increase your mature students’, ours are already up, ‘why aren’t you increasing them further?’ We’ve nobody. . . . We get penalised for not increasing something when they’re not there, you know? (Institution A, IL, T=24%/P=25%)
Cont. • “I mean the funding is critical and I suppose yeah . . . the compact is a pain really. . . . We could excel and go way better than our targets and it might still not mean any additional funding, we just don’t seem to know that”. (Institution C, IL) • “I think the universities are very concerned about the top slicing . . . creating competition amongst institutions for a very tiny slice of something that every institution needs on the basis of its existing student numbers. I mean that is a concern, for sure”. (Institution D, IL) • Compacts create “a dual identity of collaboration and competition” (Institution B, IL)
Are mature students are an important cohort? • “stabilizing influence” (Institution B, IL). • “assets to the classroom” (Institution D, IL). • “They are fantastic! But I could be mercenary and say we just need them here because we are dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s” (Institution E, IL). Mature students were inevitably defined by ILs in relation to, and lauded for the benefits they afford, others.
Data and definitions • “When we look at the HEA figures we are faring . . . officially a lot worse than what we are here. And I think sometimes, like, what is a mature student? You know? We know that we have more students here than actually we’re getting credit for, we’re losing out on funding”. (Institution E, IL) • “I think there have been huge challenges with data collection and with then the accuracy of the data . . . our problem is that we have multiple definitions at play ourselves”. (Institution D, IL) • “I’m not convinced that what’s being returned to the HEA is the same as what [other institutions] are returning to the HEA. So when you see these facts and figures that I am looking at, at the moment, I can’t be sure they are comparable, which is very, very, frustrating. It’s the most frustrating thing”. (Institution B, MP) • If mature students count, then why not count them accurately?
Institutional priorities vs. mature students as a strategic priority Institution What are the strategic priorities of Is mature student participation a strategic priority? your institution? Institutional Leader Mature Practitioner A -Increase student numbers (including “Yes, it is” “I do feel that access is a good priority” international) -Increase our reputation for relevant, bespoke programmes B -A significant increase in our student “Yes. Mature students will feed “Yes, I do. I think they are very much part of it” numbers into this increase” C
-Research -Internationalisation -Producing “work ready” graduates -Community development
-“Renewing” our education -Financial viability -International feel to the campus
-Being student centric -The student experience -Educating the student for the labour market
“I don’t think so. There’s a paradox if you are making [an international experience] compulsory . . . it kind of goes against the mature student agenda” “Renewing our education feeds into other issues about the diversity of the student body”
“I would hope that they would always remain that. Absolutely!”
“Yes and this is expressed formally in writing and by staff across [the institution] who speak positively about mature participation in College”
“Yes, they are. The President is “The fact that there is additional funding makes it a very, very aware . . . but you have priority . . . but I don’t think it’s really high on the agenda” to keep shouting loud enough . . . keep including them on the various agendas”
Global rankings vs. mature participation rates, 2013 and 2014
Do you think institutional priorities are shaped by global rankings? Institution
“Frankly . . . no consequence . . . not interested. I think it would be a distraction”
The institution “isn’t scoring very highly on those”
“I would definitely say so . . . the whole thing is about research now . . . it’s all about global rankings”
“Elements of global rankings, if you disaggregate them, are exactly the things we want to excel at”
“Rankings are not important but it is important that the student gets the best quality parchment they can get”
Inflexibility • One-size-fits all system: “whenever [the institution] talks about the undergraduate student, it’s the 18 year old on their mind” (Institution C, MP) • “I think creating sufficient flexibility in our programmes is absolutely key for widening participation” (Institution D, IL) • “We should be asking ‘can we make this [HE experience] easier’?” (Institution E, IL) • Lack of respect and recognition • Disconnect between access a LLL centres, where they exist
Lack of resources • Institutions A, D and E: one staff member • Institutions B and C: two staff members • “Mature student recruitment is not about large public campaigns. It’s more about heavy lifting on the ground: Being out at mature student centres; being where the mature students are learning.” (Institution B, IL) • “There is one full-time staff member. I don’t think there would be any member of management dreaming that there’s going to be two and a half by this time next year or that there’s going to be lots more funding thrown at the recruitment of mature students. I don’t think it’s something that’s really high on the agenda to increase the number.” (Institution E, MP)
“Learning for earning” (Biesta, 2006) • “Obviously one of the big priorities is about the university serving the economic needs of the country and the skills needs, and I think that that’s one of the roles of the university. I don’t think the university mission can be collapsed into that, and I think there’s a danger of that” (Institution D, IL) • The “drive for excellence and knowledge” and the “continual demand for highly skilled, highly paid jobs” are seen as “driving education to produce these people” (Institution C, IL).
• “Gosh, in my day, education was very much just about being educated. It was about reading Philosophy” (Institution E, IL)
National funding challenges: lack of joined-up thinking? • From June 9, 2015, the key objective of the BTEA has been changed to raising “educational and skills levels to enable [applicants] to better access emerging labour market needs in line with the Government’s activation strategy set out in Pathways to Work” (Department of Social Protection (DSP), 2015) • An applicant will be permitted to undertake a course only if it is “in an area/sector of the economy where there are identified skill needs and job opportunities” (DSP, 2015) • From July 2, 2015, One Parent Family payment ceases when the youngest child reaches 7 years (reduced from 16 years)
The hierarchical stratification of higher education • Archer’s (2007) concept of “geographies of power”/Ainley’s (2003) concept of tripartism in higher education • Gold: profile in the international arena; selecting institutions; prestigious activities, such as research, are considered their “legitimate/authentic domain” (Archer, 2007, p. 641) • Silver: an institution with a more modest national remit • Bronze: “Fixed” and tied to “less powerful spaces”; clearing institutions that liberate gold and silver from the real work of widening participation (Archer, 2007, p. 640) • Mature students are used as “seat fillers late in the day” (Institution E, MP)
• Mature students are a strategic priority in some institutions but a lack of genuine commitment to the cohort is evident in others • Evidence of a triadic, hierarchical stratification in relation to mature participation and of HEA complicity in this regard • Issues identified around definitions and national and institutional data collection • Global rankings are important for urban, well-established universities and there is a clear negative correlation between mature student participation and preoccupation with global university rankings • Changes to BTEA and OFP are mitigating against progression to HE for the most marginalised • Inflexibility in the system identified as a barrier to participation • Lack of resources hampers progress
References • Ainley, P. (2003). Towards a seamless web or a new tertiary tripartism? The emerging shape of post-14 education and training in England. Higher Education Quarterly, 51(4), 390-407. • Archer, L. (2007). Diversity, equality and higher education: a critical reflection on the ab/uses of equity discourse within widening participation. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(5), 635-653. • Biesta, G. (2006). What’s the point of lifelong learning if lifelong learning has no point? On the democratic deficit of policies for lifelong learning. European Educational Research Journal, 5(3), 169-180. • Deem, R., & Brehony, K. J. (2005). Management as ideology: the case of “new managerialism” in higher education. Oxford Review of Education, 31(2), 217-235. • Ferlie, E., Musselin, C., & Andresani, G. (2008). The steering of higher education systems: A public management perspective. Higher Education, 56(3), 325-348. • Lynch, K., Grummell, B., & Devine, D. (2012). New managerialism in education: Commercialization, carelessness and gender. Palgrave Macmillan: London.
Gender data Institution
Gender breakdown unknown by institution 55
No data available
FOCUSING ON ADULT EDUCATORS
Navigating New Frontiers in Teacher Education for Adult Educators How a changing national regulatory environment influenced the development of new teacher education qualifications for adult educators and how these changes are impacting practitioners in the field? MURPHY, Helen Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland Department of Education Key words: professionalisation; adult education; higher education institutions (HEIâ€™s); qualifications for adult educators; further education Abstract This paper will present the current debate on the professionalisation of adult education in Ireland, the associated move towards third level teaching qualification for adult educators and will investigate how the changes in the national environment and the role of stakeholders influenced and informed the development of these new national teacher education qualifications for adult educators in Ireland. The introduction of new teacher education qualifications for adult educators working in further education settings has re-ignited the debate surrounding the professionalisation of adult education in Ireland. The concept of professionalisation is a contested one, with the literature presenting conflicting views; on one hand commentators (Cervero, 1988, 1992; Wilson, 2001; Cervero in Perin, 2006) suggest that a suitably qualified workforce with a strong knowledge base informed by empirical research operating with clear national guidelines and structures to support adult education will enhance the range and quality of adult education provision. While, on the other hand commentators (Beck, 2009; Fitzsimons, 2010) outline the potentially harmful impact of professionalisation, where the state and national agencies including higher education institutions create and manage the regulatory environment and therefore the access and control of the sector and as such create a system that works against the very ethos of equality and inclusivity in adult education. In this case the State and itsâ€™ associated stakeholders define knowledge in the field or the official contextualization of the field (Beck, 2009) to the possible exclusion of those who work in the sector. While Irish national policy in tandem with EU policy (DES, 2000; SOLAS,2014) supports the development of enhanced structures, career progression and professional development for adult educators, the question of access, control and conflicting values systems between the State and practitioners and learners remains. In recent years in Ireland, new third level qualifications for adult educators have been developed in line with national guidelines set down by the Teaching Council of Ireland, the professional body responsible for regulation of the teaching profession in Ireland. The paper will include commentary on a current doctoral study, which provides a contextual background for adult and continuing education in Ireland, critically examines education policy, and explores how regulation is impacting on
adult education practitioners. The study aims to contribute to an understanding of the impact of the professionalisation on the adult educator and the adult learner and to broaden the debate concerning the process to stakeholders in adult education specifically third level institutions, policy makers, practitioners, national adult education organizations and providers of adult education programmes.
Policy Development in Adult and Further Education in Ireland In the period between the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the 1960’s, the Irish government passed the Vocational Education Act in 1930 which provided for a structure under which thirty three Vocational Education Committees (VEC’s) were set up to establish systems under which vocational and technical education was provided for along with a suitable system of continuing education, the VEC sector became the major providers of adult education during this period. During the 1960’s in Ireland, free second level schooling was introduced by the state; this marked a major change in the Irish education system and was to have an important socio-economic impact on Ireland over time. At a national policy level the focus was on the provision of second level schooling and there was little if any mention of adult education. Government policy guiding the development of adult education was informed by two reports produced in 1973 and 1984. The Murphy Report: Adult Education in Ireland (1973) proposed the introduction of formal structures and funding streams for adult education in Ireland. It also defined adult education as “the provision and utilization of facilities whereby those who are no longer in the full time school system may learn whatever they need to learn at any period of their lives” (Murphy, 1973). This introduced some core concepts about adult education in Ireland: learning may be formal or informal; learning should be student-centered and learning should be life-long. Some commentators (O’Sullivan, 1993) have stated that there was little government response to this report on adult education however the report did contribute to the decision made to appoint full time adult education organizers in the Vocational Education Committees in 1979. These new positions were the first attempt to formally organize adult education within the vocational sector. The Report of the Commission on Adult Education (Kenny Commission Report, 1984) discussed resources, participation levels and barriers to participation in adult education and advocated local and national structures to manage adult education in Ireland. The proposed changes did not all materialize however during this period, a dedicated funding stream for Adult Literacy and Community Education was created in 1985 and allocated to the primary providers; the Vocational Education Committees, who used this funding for the provision of local support for adult literacy programmes and programmes orientated towards community development education initiatives. The report defined adult education as: "Adult Education includes all systematic learning by adults which contributes to their development as individuals and as members of the community and of society, apart from full-time instruction received by persons as part of their uninterrupted initial education and training. It may be formal education which takes place in institutions e.g. training centres, schools, colleges, institutes and universities, or non-formal education which is any other systematic form of learning including self-directed learning”. (1984, p. 9). In 1992, the Department of Education and Science (DES) produced a Green Paper on Education, “Education for a Changing World” which incorporated a section on adult education, specifically adult literacy, with proposals and recommendations for its future development (DES, 1992). However little change in government policy was noted relating to adult education up to 1998.
The 1998 DES Green Paper on Adult Education (Adult Education in an Era of Lifelong Learning) was written following Irelands’ very poor results from the International Adult Literacy Survey conducted in 1995 in Ireland by the OECD. This survey, one of the first significant pieces of empirical research on adult literacy rates in Ireland, indicated that 25% of the Irish adult population had very low literacy skills, scoring at the lowest level on the OECD scale. A further 32% of the sample scored at level 2, a level considered to be inadequate to participate in daily life (IALS, OECD, 1996). The results were considered shocking at the time and prompted the government to respond. The DES Green Paper (1998) concurred with the definition of adult education set down by the Kenny Report (1984) and included key concepts such as adult education being “any systematic learning that contributes to learner’s development as individuals, as members of communities and societies and that learning may be formal or informal.” (p.21) The purpose of the Green Paper was to set out national policy for the first time in relation to adult education. The Paper proposed the provision of opportunities for particular disadvantaged groups, it recognized the important economic and social benefits of adult education and the placing of adult education within the context of overall educational developments in Ireland changing economic, social and cultural environments. The Paper proposed the establishment of a National Adult Literacy Programme and the Back to Education Initiative to address the needs of the long-term unemployed. Finally the Paper “makes the case for a recognition of the role of the adult educator/trainer as a professional and for the development of a variety of systematic training routes through which the quality and professionalism of the sector can be recognized and supported (p. 10). The Green Paper was followed by a wide consultation process with stakeholders and the Department of Education and Science published “Learning for Life” a White Paper on Adult Education in 2000. The White Paper “set out a blueprint for the future development and expansion of adult education, for a strengthened focus on access, quality and flexibility and responsiveness and for the establishment of national and local structures which will help to provide a coordinated and integrated approach” (Willie O’Dea, Minister for State, p. 4). The White Paper marked the adoption of Lifelong Learning as the governing principle of education policy and defined adult education as “systematic learning undertaken by adults who return to learning having concluded initial education or training. It includes aspects of further education and third level education and continuing education and training, community education and other systemic deliberate learning by adults both formal and informal” (p.6). The three tenets of the White Paper were a systematic approach that allowed for interfaces between different levels of educational provision; equality of access, participation and outcome and inter-culturalism; the need to frame educational policy and practice in the context of serving a diverse population as opposed to a uniform one. A significant increase in funding for adult literacy, a Back to Education Initiative aimed at those who had not completed upper second level education, an increase in the number of Adult Education Organiser Posts and the introduction of new Community Education Facilitator roles as well as a new national adult guidance service were some of the key recommendations. The underpinning values included equality of access, recognition of the student as the centre of the learning process
and the recognition of the role of adult education in promoting social cohesion and democracy. The White Paper has informed national policy on adult education including priority areas, funding, national and local structures, programmes and initiatives since 2000. In tandem with the policy developments taking place for adult education, two national organizations were established that were to play an important role in the development of adult education in Ireland. Aontas, the Irish National Association of Adult Education and NALA, the National Adult Literacy Agency were established in 1969 and 1979 respectively. Both organizations were voluntary, membership organizations and played an important role in advocating for the rights of adults to access educational opportunities. The White Paper has attracted much attention and generated critical debate since its publication. It formed the basis for a number of national initiatives in adult education, provided for a significant increase in funding and set down adult education and lifelong learning as central tenets for education policy in Ireland. It also sets down the requirement for professional development for staff working in the sector and introduces the concept of a professional workforce with appropriate career structures and third level qualifications. Some commentators have critiqued the White Paper, Fleming (2001) has highlighted the apparent contradictions in the White Paper between the government rhetoric set down in the National Development Plan 2000-2006 which suggests people’s skills, knowledge and understanding require regular updating and that learning throughout life is necessary to ensure employability, personal fulfillment, inclusion in society and active citizenship (NDP, 2000) and the bureaucratic and funding criteria set down by the DES for adult learning programmes. Fleming argued that if the evaluation of adult education programmes is only focused on economic measures such securing employment or learning to read or write to a certain level then some of the essence of the purpose of adult education would be lost. The White Paper mobilized a number of new national programmes and services for adult education (National Adult Literacy Programme, Adult Education Guidance Service, funding for Community Education and new positions for adult education practitioners within existing national structures). There was a significant increase in funding in priority areas; funding for adult literacy for example increased from €0.85m in 1997 to €23m in 2006 (NALA, 2007). The Reports from the government commissioned Expert Future Skills Group (2007) continued to inform policy for adult education, albeit framed in economic terms, where adult education was seen as a means to re-train and up-skill the workforce. Although neither report nor the continued annual reports (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) form policy in adult education they highlight the large number of the adult population who the government have identified as needing to return to formal education and the state’s view of adult education as a mechanism for addressing the skills needs of the economy. The impact of both of these reports was to see increased funding into initiatives in the Back to Education field and a large number of labour market activation programmes. The global economic recession has had an impact on the provision of education at all levels in Ireland including adult education and a number of initiatives have experienced a reduction in funding in areas such as research for adult education and community development. The establishment of SOLAS (formerly FAS)
and new national structures for the provision of further and adult education, the Education and Training Boards, will shape the development of the future structures for the provision of adult and further education. The professionalisation of adult education The need for career structures, professional development, security and recognition for adult educators has been highlighted in a number of policy papers (DES,1984; DES, 1998; DES, 2000; SOLAS, 2014), however the sector continues to be characterised by casual, part-time work with little or no job security and a lack of career pathways within both the formal state services provided primarily via the Education and Training Boards (ETB’s) and the private sector. A review of the Adult Literacy service in 2013 (DES, 2103) indicates a staffing structure supporting the adult literacy service with 37 full time tutor posts, 1,400 part-time tutor positions and almost 3,000 volunteers. The position within the Community Education service is similar with a small number of full time posts, 35 Community Education Faciliators, located within the Education and Training Boards and a part-time workforce estimated at 4,000 (IVEA, 2010) involved in the delivery of funded Community Education initiatives both within the ETB sector and through the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme. Other services within adult education include Back to Education, VTOS (Vocational Training Opportunity Scheme), Guidance and Return to Education and are staffed primarily by full time coordinators supported by part-time teaching and support staff. The debate surrounding professionalisation of adult education has been further nuanced by the question of how the sector is defined today as changing national structures, new regulations surrounding qualifications and the new national strategy, “A Strategy for Further Education and Training 2014-2018”, (SOLAS:2014) now appear to re-define the sector as Further Education with adult education appearing to be subsumed into a larger, more diverse sector. This blurring of identity for adult education has potentially unintended consequences as the ethos, culture and values of adult education, informed by concepts of emancipation, transformation and a much broader social and community role, risk becoming submerged in a re-constituted Further Education system largely orientated towards labour market development and activation initiatives. Regulatory change The establishment of The Teaching Council of Ireland in 2006 as the regulatory body for the teaching profession in Ireland had also had an impact on adult education, with particular regard to qualifications and standards for adult educators. It’s functions include the regulation of the teaching profession and the establishment and maintenance of a register of teachers for primary, post-primary and further education sector; this includes components of adult education. Registration regulations were published in 2009, setting standards and bringing greater uniformity to the qualifications required for registration as a teacher (Teaching Council, 2009). Section 38 of the Teaching Council Act, 2001 and Regulation Five of The Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009 detail requirements for teaching/tutoring in the further education Sector. The regulation also set out a new requirement, which came into force on 1 April 2013, requiring anyone wishing to
register as a teacher in Further Education to possess a minimum of a level 7 (NFQ) award containing 180 ECTS and a teacher education qualification. This change in regulation has impacted on many practitioners working in adult education who now need to formalise their qualifications and register with the Teaching Council in order to meet employer qualification requirements. The establishment of the Teaching Council and regulations governing qualifications required for those working in the Further Education sector (including adult education) have contributed to policy developments affecting adult education. The White Paper (2000) set down the need for recognized national qualifications for those working in adult education and the development of new Teacher Education Qualifications for Further Education are the first recognized teaching qualifications for adult educators, albeit under the guise of regulations guiding teachers working in the formal further education sector. European Policy Developments Irish education policy has been strongly influenced by European Union goals and initiatives. Although Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills has independent responsibility for Ireland’s education system there is a strong connection to European policy, especially in the area of lifelong learning. The Bologna Declaration on Higher Education in 1999 was the first of many initiatives towards cooperation amongst European member states on education policy. The Lisbon European Council convened in 2000 and set an objective for Europe to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based society in the world by 2010 (European Commission, 2007). Lifelong learning and adult learning were acknowledged as having a vital place in realizing this goal. In 2002 The Barcelona European Council endorsed the ‘Education and Training 2010’ programme to identify a solid framework for European cooperation in the field of education and training and emphasized the need for strong focus on lifelong learning to reduce social exclusion and provide opportunities for citizens to reach their potential. The Copenhagen Declaration (2002) enhanced co-operation in Vocational Education and Training. Its aim was to promote lifelong learning by developing transparency in the recognition of qualifications and competences in adult education. These developments put education and training as priority development areas throughout the EU. A series of policy statements from the European Commission were consolidated in the 2006 Communication, ‘Adult Learning: It is never too late to learn’ (European Commission, 2006) and the subsequent publication The Action Plan on Adult Learning, ‘Adult Learning: It is always a good time to learn’ (European Commission, 2007). The Action Plan stressed that better efficiencies in Adult Learning Sectors in Member States would facilitate the achievement of the Lisbon and Copenhagen goals. It pointed out that efficiencies could be gained through robust policies, strong governance and well-planned systems of programme delivery. Under the heading of governance, the report noted that professional staffing is one of the key issues needing attention. Participants of the Copenhagen Declaration (2002) had committed to developing an integrated approach towards training of teachers and trainers in vocational education and training and had identified these teachers as key to ensuring the quality and effectiveness of lifelong learning
opportunities. This commitment was revisited in the action plan to ensure the quality of adult learning programmes by promoting quality of staff and dealing with their professional development. More recently, the Bruges CommuniquĂŠ (European Commission, 2010) set a goal that by 2020 all European Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems would have highly qualified teachers and trainers and improvements should be made to initial and continuing training for VET practitioners. The review of European Union policy on lifelong learning highlights the importance of adult learning for social, economic and cultural life enhancement. A study on adult learning professionals in Europe was conducted for The European Commission in 2006 and 2007 (ALPINE Report, Research Voor Beleid, 2008) and focused on adult learning practitioners in 32 countries, of these, 15 countries were selected for in-depth analysis (Ireland was not included in this group). The researchers noted that, while teaching/tutoring in adult education requires very specific knowledge and skills, there was no agreement across countries as to what qualifications and competences should be set for professionals in the field. The ALPINE Report found that, across countries, there are a variety of professional pathways for teaching in the sector, it highlighted the lack of standardization of qualifications for adult education practitioners across EU member states and noted that most countries have no formal requirement for qualifications for adult educators. Across the 13 countries in the study, it found that the majority of staff had a third level qualification but many did not have a specific teaching qualification. The researchers recommended the development of clear standards and guidelines for initial, continuing and professional development for adult education practitioners. The ALPINE Report proposed that professional development in the field is vital to achieving Lisbonâ€™s objectives. It reviewed the 2006 progress report of the EU Education and Training Committee and noted their disappointment that progress has been slow in the area of professional development. The report further contended that lack of progress in standardizing professional development of practitioners in adult learning is only part of the problem and that attention needs to be focused on the part-time nature of staffing and the lack of career opportunities. To professionalise or not? The White Paper on Adult Education (DES, 2000) called for the development of nationally recognized qualifications for those working in adult education in Ireland and this has been supported by European policy (ET 2020, 2010) and the Alpine Report (Research Voor Beleid, 2008). This call for qualifications for the adult education sector can be seen as a move towards professionalisation and while underpinned by policy, it attracts much debate amongst commentators and practitioners. As the policy regarding adult education has evolved over recent years, the question of professionalisation has emerged. The study of professions and processes of professionalisation emerged in the 1900â€™s as a result of an increasing status attached to professions and a movement amongst different occupational groups to be recognized as professional. Approaches to defining professions have evolved somewhat from the trait approaches outlined by Hoyle (1975) and Abbott (1988) where a profession was defined by possessing certain characteristics such as a body of accumulated knowledge, third level
qualifications, a membership organization who set the standards and controlled entry into and out of the profession and the level of workplace autonomy attached to the profession. The trait/classic/static approach favoured in the 1960’s adopted a series of traits attributed to a profession and through a process of identifying various traits within an occupational group decided whether a profession was professionalised. This approach was criticized for its lack of consideration to issues of structure and power and a process based/revisionist approach emerged during the 1970’s that viewed professionalisation as an emergent and evolving process that involved continual change and development (Cervero, 1992). The process based/revisionist approach claims that professionals exercise power with an emphasis on the circumstances by which an occupation professionalises. Cervero (1988) highlights the role of the state in professional formation and the degree of authority reached by the professions in the organization. More recently Hoyle (2001), Evans (2011), and Goodson (2000) have moved the debate about the professionalisation of teachers beyond definitions of professions to issues such as trust, values, ethics and control. Teacher education, primarily in the UK but also to a degree in the US, has been subject to much debate around the issue of professionalisation or rather de-professionalisation citing increasing state and external control and the general marketisation of education. Hoyle (2001, p 148) introduces the concept of a new professionalism which is “improvement in the quality of service rather than the enhancement of status” which he suggests maybe de-professionalising teachers, Evans (2011) supports this view positing that autonomy has given way to accountability and has caused deprofessionalisation rather than altered professionalism. This move towards a new professionalism is being driven by changes in the state regulation of teachers, increased requirement for public accountability and a move towards standards and outcomes based model for assessing student performance. A range of advantages and disadvantages of professionalisation of adult education have been pointed out by Cervero (1992) and Perin (2006) and include advantages such as clarifying standards, improving the quality of teaching, ensuring specialist knowledge of adult education, enhancement of the adult education profession and screening out of unqualified and untrained volunteers (Bailey, Tisdell and Cervero in Perin 2006). The disadvantages presented are that it may restrict entry into the profession, that it may not recognize valuable experience in adult education and that it increases the control of academic or professional bodies that have different interests than the practitioners in the field (Fitzsimons, 2010). Professionalisation in Europe amongst education professionals has been strongly linked to a re-structuring of initial and continuing teacher education, calls for improved standards and a competency based approach that is according to Beck (2009) training rooted in post-fordist management theory and behavioural psychology. He argues that professionalisation of teaching, in this case in the UK, happens on two fronts, one is the official re-contextualization of the field (led by the state and its’ agents) the other is the pedagogic re-contextualization led by schools and colleges. Becks suggests that if the official re-contextualization is the accepted norm then the profession (of teaching) is not autonomous. This raises questions for the professionalisation of adult education in Ireland; what is the official recontextualization of the field of adult education? and what is the pedagogic re-
contextualization led by practitioners and researchers in adult education and whether one or the other is recognized as the accepted norm? The language of professionalisation, which Beck argues is the re-contextualization of the field, is embedded by the state and its’ agents in Ireland in the documentation surrounding standards, qualifications and desired outcomes across the education spectrum. A review of the Teaching Council of Ireland Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers (2012) uses the terms professions and professional 51 times throughout the document, this may be interpreted, according to Beck, as the official recontextualizing of the field. In addition, the new national strategy for Further Education and Training (SOLAS, 2014) omits using the term adult education in it’s title and has led to questions surrounding the place for adult education in the national policy discourse. The importance of language, accepted terminology and power are raised by Murray (Murray et al, 2014) who highlights how the terms further education and adult education are being used as universal definitions despite having contesting philosophies and different contexts. He argues the use of one discourse is problematic as it depends on the local context, there is insufficient research to support a systematic approach to universal definitions of further and adult education and ‘these fields are characterized by very different philosophical and ideological approaches to education’. (p. 103). In Ireland, one of the initial steps towards the professionalisation of adult education; the formation of member organizations (Hall, 1968,) was driven by practitioners in the field, adult education tutors, who formed two national members organizations; Aontas and NALA in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Subsequent developments in the 1990’s were the identification and development of professional development programmes for adult education practitioners working within the adult literacy service in the VEC’s and Community Education Facilitators (Literacy Development Centre, WIT, 2010). The past fifteen years have seen the growth of practitioner based national networks and national organizations (Adult Education Officers Association and the Adult Literacy Organisers Association) that have played a role in informing national policy and participating with other stakeholders in the development of adult education in Ireland. Other elements of professionalisation; quality and regulation, are increasingly being controlled by national stakeholders in Ireland including government departments, national agencies, employers and third level institutions. Employer groups, generally the Education and Training Boards, play an important role in the professionalisation process as they are controlling recruitment into the sector, the qualifications required for adult educators (as there are limited guidelines set down by the Department of Education and Skills compared to other sectors of the education system) and the career development opportunities offered to adult educators. SOLAS is responsible for the strategic coordination and funding of the further education and training sector (SOLAS, 2014, p. 18) and has set out a new national strategy for further education and training (SOLAS, 2014) which identifies the need for staff in the sector to possess both subject specific expertise and pedagogical competence, “a focus needs to be placed on training competency in subject matter areas and an appropriate pedagogical approach in the delivery of training to various cohorts, i.e. a standard professional qualification and CPD requirement for those employed in the FET sector”. (SOLAS, 2014, p. 110). Recent
policy developments would suggest that the Teaching Council has subsumed power in relation to setting standards for adult educators in the form of new regulations for teachers in Further Education (which may include adult education). Although these new regulatory requirements (Regulation 5, Teaching Council, 2009) appear to address only those working in the formal further education sector who hold a role recognized as â€˜further education teacherâ€™, anecdotal evidence from adult educators working in both formal and informal settings (FET Forum minutes, 2014, 2015) indicates that employers in the field are stipulating registration with the Teaching Council as a condition of employment for adult education tutors. As registration requires a teaching qualification in further education or equivalent, this is imposing a requirement for adult educators to complete a third level qualification in teaching in order to secure and maintain existing work contracts. The question of entry into the profession can be viewed at a number of levels; the academic institutions offering the new qualifications are at one level controlling entry through their policies and entry requirements for qualifications for adult educators; at another level one could argue that the existing inequities in our education system are reproducing themselves to favour those who have already succeeded in the formal system and entry to professional qualifications will favour those who have already successfully navigated the formal education system. In conclusion, there appears to be some discord in the literature about the professionalisation of adult education. Some studies suggest that there are significant benefits to be had from professionalisation (Perin, 2006; Belzer 2003; Smith and Hofer 2003) other commentators suggest that the ideology of professionalisation is at odds with the underpinning philosophy and ideologies of adult education (Wilson, 2001; Fitzsimons, 2010). Initial findings from a doctoral study examining the experiences of adult educators of professionalisation in the sector include their stated desire for recognition as professionals based on both the original trait/characteristics approaches which include a defined accumulated body of knowledge, recognition, status and security. In addition, a number of participants noted the extended characteristics of professionals including ethical values, trust (Evans, 2011) and a broader view of their role as that embraces the broader social context of education. The role of the Higher Education Institution Cervero, (1992) and Wilson (2001) both identify academic institutions as stakeholders in the professionalisation process. A profession is defined by an accumulated body of knowledge and both commentators point to the role of third level institutions in developing new knowledge in a field and contributing to its recognition as a profession. A small number of third level institutions in Ireland began developing specific qualifications in adult education during the 1980â€™s (WIT, NUIM, NUIG and DCU amongst others), this has grown over the past twenty years with 13 higher education institutions offering over 50 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the field of adult education today. The level of doctoral research is small but growing as the field emerges and as practitioners and academics recognize the increasing demand for empirically based evidence to inform policy decisions in the sector.
Following the development of guidelines for Teacher Education qualifications for further education by the Teaching Council in 2012, a number of higher education institutions developed third level qualifications for adult and further education practitioners and those seeking entry into the sector. To date eight higher education institutions offer programmes that offer students a formal teacher education qualification, acceptable for registration with the Teaching Council, as further education teachers. The literature (Wilson, 2001, Cervero, 1992) suggests that higher education institutions have a role in the process of professionalisation and I suggest that this role goes beyond controlling access and entry to the profession but includes a role that shapes the ethos and the values of the adult educator by means of a theoretical and conceptual framework that informs the programmes, the deep history of the third level institution and the ethos and values of the academic team that supports the programme. Wengerâ€™s (2002, 2007) theory of situated learning and communities of practice is useful here to draw on a wider interpretation of how a higher education institution plays a role in this process of professionalisation. Wenger suggests that learning is situated within a community of practice; in this case adult education, learning is a process of social participation; a group of adult educators are completing a third level qualification and identity is formed within this community using common language and tools. This socio-constructivist view of learning suggests that the environment in which the adult educator engages with learning informs their philosophy, ethos and values and in this case I argue that the higher education institution delivering third level qualifications for further education teachers plays an important role in addressing the emergent questions surrounding professionalisation in Ireland. Again, with reference to Wenger (2002), the community of practice in my institution, Waterford Institute of Technology, was characterised by mutual engagement/passion (adult education), a joint enterprise; the development of these new teacher education qualifications for adult educators and had a shared repertoire of resources including existing expertise, programmes, experiences, access to national networks, stakeholders, current and past students, employers, policy makers and the internal academic community in the institute. This led to the development of a clear conceptual framework based on a socio-constructivist view and values embedded in the philosophy of adult education which informed and continues to inform our engagement with practitioners completing these new third level qualifications for teachers. The origins of the School of Lifelong Learning and Education are in adult education and a respect for adult learners is an integral part of the ethos of the School. This value underpins the conceptual framework developed that is informed by a socio-constructivist view and transformative research traditions, is multi-disciplinary and draws on ideas from philosophy, psychology, sociology and education. In conclusion, the role of the higher education institution in the process of professionalisation of adult education is multi-faceted; institutions control access and entry but may also play a role in informing the conceptualisation of the field and contribute to the emergent debate as part of their engagement as a community of practice in conjunction with adult educators, their students and other stakeholders in the field.
This paper has attempted to provide an overview of the background and context of the development of adult education in Ireland, the policy and regulatory change taking place currently and how it may impact on the sector, practitioners and other stakeholders. The paper raises questions about professionalisation, itâ€™s merits and potential negative consequences and finally outlines a role for higher education institutions in the process. END.
For further contact: Helen Murphy Hmurphy@wit.ie
Abbott, A. (1988) The system of professions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Beck, J. (2009) Appropriating professionalism; restructuring the official knowledge base of England’s “modernised” teaching profession. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 30 (1), 3. Belzer, A. (2003).”Towards broadening the definition of impact of professional development for ABE practitioners”. Adult Basic Education, Vol. 13, Number 1, Spring 2003 pp. 44-59. Cervero, R.M. (1988) Effective Continuing Education for Professionals. San Franciso; Jossey-Bass. Cervero, R.M. (1992) Adult and continuing education should strive for professionalization. In M.G. Galbraith & B. Sisco, Confronting Controversies in challenging Times: A call for action (Vol 54, pp 45-50). San Francisco; Jossey Bass. Department of Education (1973) Adult Education in Ireland: A Report of a Committee Appointed by the Minister for Education – The Murphy Report. Dublin. Stationery Office. Department of Education (1983) Lifelong Learning: Report of the Commission on Adult Education – the Kenny Report. Dublin. Stationery Office. Department of Education (1992) Education for a Changing World – Green Paper on Education, Dublin. Stationery Office. Department of Education (2000), Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education. Dublin. Stationery Office. Department of Education (2013) Review of ALCES funded adult literacy provision. https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Review-of-ALCES-fundedAdult-Literacy-Provision.pdf accessed January 30, 2016 European Commission (2002) “The Copenhagen Declaration”. Brussels. European Commission, European Commission (2006) It’s Never Too Late To Learn. Brussels. European Commission. European Commission (2010) The Bruges Communiqué on enhanced European Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training for the period 2011-2020, Brussels. European Commission. Research Voor Beleid (2008) ALPINE – Adult Learning Professions in Europe - A study of the current situation trends and issues. Brussels. European Commission. European Commission (2010) Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training ("ET 2020"). Brussels. European Commission. European Commission (2007) Action Plan on Adult Learning. Brussels.European Commission. Evans, L. (2008) Professionalism, professionality and the development of education professionals. British Journal of Educational Studies, 56 (1), 20-38. Evans L, ‘The ‘shape’ of teacher professionalism in England: professional standards, performance management, professional development, and the changes proposed in the 2010 White Paper’, British Educational Research Journal, 37.5 (2011), 851-870 Expert Future Skills Group (2007) Tomorrow’s Skills, Towards a Future Skills Strategy, Dublin. Forfas.
Fitzsimons, C. (2010) Professionalising Community Work and its implications for Radical Community Education. The Adult Learner. Dublin. Aontas. Fleming, T. (2004) The State of Adult Education, The Adult Learner, Dublin. Aontas. Further Education Forum (2014, 2015) Minutes from members meetings. Accessed via wiggio January 16, 2015. Goodson, I (2001) The Principled Professional. Prospects. Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 181-188. Government of Ireland (2000) National Development Plan 2000-2006. Dublin. Stationery Office. Government of Ireland (2007) National Development Plan 2007-2013. Dublin. Stationery Office. Government of Ireland (2001) Teaching Council Act. Dublin. Stationery Office. Government of Ireland (2009) Teaching Council Regulations Act. Dublin. Stationery Office. Government of Ireland (2012) Education and Training Boards Bill 2011. Dublin. Stationery Office. Hall, R.H (1968) Professionalization and bureaucratization. American Sociological review, 33 pp 92-104. Hoyle, E. (1975) Professionality, professionalism and professional learning in V. Houghton et al. Management in Education; the management of organisations and individuals. London. Ward Lock Educational in association with the Open University Press. Hoyle, E. (2001). Teaching: Prestige, status and esteem. Educational Management & Administration, 29:2, 139–152. IVEA (2010) Presentation to Further Education Working Group. Dublin. Literacy Development Centre (2010) Strategic Plan. Waterford. WIT. Murray, M., Grummell, B., Ryan, A., (2014) Further Education and Training, history, politics, practice. Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Ireland. MACE Press. NALA (2007) Annual Report.Dublin. NALA. OECD (1997) International Adult Literacy Survey.Paris. OECD. O’Sullivan, D. (1993) ‘The Concept of Policy Paradigm: Elaboration and Illumination’, Journal of Educational Thought, 1993, Vol. 27, pp.246-272. Perin, D. (1999) Professionalizing adult literacy: Would a credential help? Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 42:8 pp 610-619. SOLAS (2014) Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2018. https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Further-Education-andTraining-Strategy-2014-2019.pdf accessed February 12, 2016 Wilson, a. (2001) Professionalization: A Politics of Identity. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 19, Fall 2001. Mass. John Wiley & Sons. Wenger, Etienne (1998) Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Boston. Cambridge University Press. Wenger, Etienne, McDermott, Richard, and Snyder, William (2002) Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge. Boston. Harvard Business School Press.
EUCEN HELLIN RE-IMAGINING LIFELONG LEARNING NUI Galway 11/12/15
Navigating New Frontiers in Teacher Education for Adult Educators â€“ Helen Murphy
Navigating new frontiers in teacher education for adult educators The context – policy, changing regulations and stakeholders
The debate – to professionalize or not?
The initial findings from stakeholders
The Professionalization of Adult Education in Ireland an exploration of the current discourse and debate The Key Actors in Ireland Actors Education and Training Boards
AONTAS Department of Education and Skills
The Adult Learner
Teaching Council SOLAS
Adult Ed Member associations
Department of Finance
Third level providers
The Context: Policy Developments leading to new teacher education qualifications for adult educators: 1998
Green Paper â€“ Adult Education in an era of Learning
Proposed a framework for change, highlighted adult literacy as a national priority, social & economic needs and recognised the role of the adult educator as a professional
White Paper â€“ Learning for Life Adopted lifelong learning as the governing principle of education policy Recommended third level qualifications for adult educators Affirmed the role of professional bodies and associations in supporting the professional status of adult educators
Expressed some concern that this process of professionalization would result in displacement of the high levels of voluntary input (adult literacy & community
Recognised that the part-time and casual nature of adult education and the lack of a career structure for adult educators was a barrier to the provision of high quality adult education 2013
Establishment of SOLAS, new national structures for further and adult education
Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2018
The context: Policy 2008
Teaching Council Working Group
Regulation 5 Teaching Council (Registration) Regulations
Guidelines for the Accreditation of Teacher Education programmes for Further Education published
A number of HEIâ€™s gain accreditation to offer level 8 and level 9 teacher education programmes for further education
Regulation 5 comes into effect, candidates wishing to register with the teaching council as a further education teacher must have a council approved further education teacher education qualification
Navigating New Frontiers in Teacher Education for Adult Educators ď‚Ą What is the role of the HEI in the process of professionalization of adult education?
ď‚Ą What impact do the social and cultural factors in the HEI have on the programmes developed?
The role of the HEI in the process of professionalization Adapted from Labaree (1989) Wilson (2001), Cervero (1998) Developing a body of knowledge – third level qualifications, research
Code of conduct, norms, ethics Policy input into new qualifications Agreed values - Advocacy in conjunction with adult educators (voice)Professional membership organisations – National FET Forum established to inform, share and collaborate on these new qualifications
Our history in WIT National qualification in teaching for adult education (1980’s) Practical Teaching Skills for Adults National qualification for adult literacy tutors (1990’S) National Certificate in Training and Development (Adult Basic Education)
Degree and Masters programmes in Adult, Further, Community and Higher Education (1990’s, 2000’s) 2012 Teacher Education degree and post-graduate programmes for adult educators – recognised by the Teaching Council in Ireland
What are the social and cultural factors that influenced the development of teacher education qualifications in WIT? Using Wengerâ€™s (1988, 2002, 2007) theory of situated learning and communities of practice
Learning is situated within a community of practice who are groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly Learning is a process of social participation
Identity is formed within a community of Practice using common language and tools How we say things
How we do things
The Community of Practice in the School of Education involved: Mutual Engagement/Passion Joint Enterprise
Developing new teacher education qualifications for adult educators
A shared repertoire of resources Existing expertise, programmes, experiences, access to national networks, stakeholders, past students, employers, policy makers and internal academic community
A socio-constructivist view, values embedded in the philosophy of adult education
What were the social and cultural factors within the School that influenced the development of the new qualifications? How we say things/how we do things
The history of adult education in the School â€“ We are not a traditional teacher training college The shared understanding of adult education
Our experiences working with adult educators Our values Our philosophy This led to the development of our conceptual framework
The research base for our conceptual framework Given the origins of the School are in adult education, a respect for adult learners is an integral part of the ethos of the School. This value underpin the conceptual framework. This is informed by socio-constructivist view and transformative research traditions, it is multi-disciplinary drawing on ideas from philosophy, psychology, sociology and education. The conceptual framework for the Teacher Education Qualifications comprises five core concepts which makes explicit to staff and students our own set of values, knowledge and processes as follows: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Personal and Professional Development of Teachers Contribution to Communities of Practice Social Justice, Equality and Inclusion Respect for the Learner
How does this make these programmes for adult educators different?
The theory is framed within an adult education theoretical framework The learning is delivered in multiple ways using a range of teaching and learning methodologies Lecturers and facilitators model practice Students are stakeholders - feedback informs programme development and delivery (participation at programme boards and feedback) The model of teaching practice is a collaborative and developmental one (different to traditional teacher education) Acknowledgement of the experience adult learners bring to the classroom Use of that experience to scaffold learning and develop opportunities for deep peer learning (currently mainly practitioners with experience) Negotiated learning opportunities (continuous assessment based on practice informed by theory) Prior learning is acknowledged where possible (RPL)
The debate To professionalize or not?
What the literature is saying: Professionalization: the process whereby peopleâ€™s professionality and professionalism may be enhanced (Evans, 2010a) Professionalism: Linked to status-related elements of professionalsâ€™ work (Hoyle, 1975) A descriptive term (professional work, quality, standards) or an ideological concept (rhetorical and strategies used by occupations for self-promotion) (Hilferty, 2008) Professionality: Those elements of the job that constitute the knowledge, skills, processes , procedures that professionals use in their work (Hoyle, 1975) Professions An exclusive occupational group applying somewhat abstract knowledge (Abbott, 1988) The theoretical grounding of professional knowledge (Whitehead 1933) Professionalism within a group is influenced by professional culture as represented by the professionality range represented within the profession. Hoyle (1975) Professionalism is homogeneity of values and viewpoints (Friedson, 2001)
What does a professionalized occupation look like? Body of knowledge Codes of conduct, norms and ethics Third level qualifications Professional membership orgs. Common mission Agreed values Workplace autonomy
The debate about Professionalization
A sociological project relating to the authority and status of a profession (Englund, 1995) A form of occupational control of teachers (Ozga, 2008) An extension of class control under the guise of expertise (Marx in Densmore, 1987) A symptom of agency and the rise of disciplinary power (Foucault 1977) Mechanism for legitimizing the raw self interest of socially mobile occupational groups (Weber)
What are the stakeholders saying? Q – How is the professionalization of adult education in Ireland impacting on adult educators’ identities and practice? Emergent themes Status – changing in light of professional development emergent Practice – better understanding of why they adopt different approaches – more confident – more open to peer and external engagement The sector – adult education – huge change – new national strategy refers to Further not Adult Education Power – professionalization contested – neo-liberalism debate – loss of values - emancipation
Fiona “ A profession is someone who is specialized in something…having completed a teacher education qualification..that to me is being a professional…I have studied to be an adult teacher” Ann “One of the things is a qualification..its about teaching professionally” Bernie “ I know what to do and how to handle different situations and how to treat people as they should be treated” Ciaran “I think it brings a stamp of quality, it brings quality assurance to you and to what you stand for” Eilish “I am treated with more respect, my views are listened to more” “We are being pushed into this…there is a profession there for adult educators but it is separate..I think there is a profession there to be discovered”
Contested terms “I teach but I am a trainer…it is a different system” “I see myself as someone who facilitates learning. I don’t think the word teacher fits with adult education” “I call myself a tutor but the debate is interesting”. “I am more concerned with how learners learn, I see myself as a facilitator, someone who creates an environment that is conducive to learning”.
In summary Is adult education a profession? Possibly but stakeholders want to see it as different to the teaching profession, a profession in its own right What impact does this have on adult educators and adult learners? Positives include increased recognition, body of knowledge being developed and positive impact on the adult learner, negatives are reenforcement of inequalities, control, regulation contrary to values of adult education How do adult educators identify/name what they do? Tutor, facilitator, teacher, trainer What role does a formal teacher education qualification play in the debate? Professional development, is it available to all?
Can a formal teacher education qualification retain the ethos, values and philosophy of adult education? Possibly but may be dependent on the social and cultural perspectives of the stakeholders involved
Thank you! firstname.lastname@example.org
‘WHO ARE FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING PRACTITIONERS?’ EXPLORING IDENTITIES USING OPEN SPACE TECHNOLOGY Sarah Bates Evoy The following paper provides an introduction to Open Space Technology (OST) and its key principles, and encourages the consideration of OST as a potential method for consulting with groups on important issues or questions where there is diversity and conflict, and where there appears to be no clear solution. The paper also provides an example of OST in use, detailing how the method was used for initial exploratory data collection as part of a 4 stage PhD research project examining the identities of practitioners (teachers, trainers, tutors, instructors, facilitators etc.) within the Irish Further Education and Training (FET) sector, and the impact of recent (post 2013) sectoral changes on these identities. INTRODUCTION TO OPEN SPACE TECHNOLOGY Open Space Technology (OST) was developed by Harrison Owen and first used in 1985. Owen hoped to create spaces that inspired the ‘synergy and excitement’ (Owen, 2008) of a good coffee break. OST has been used in multiple settings around the world including commerce, government and community settings. (McDonald et al., 2009) OST is a method of bringing people together through dialogue and activity, and gathering their thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas and suggestions in relation to a key theme/question/issue that self-selected participants are passionate about. It creates a space where all participants are equal, requiring participants ‘to shed their power roles’, and where the agenda is designed by those present and not pre-determined. (McDonald et al., 2009:71) OST draws on ‘theories of complexity, self-organisation and open systems’. (McDonald et al., 2009:70) It has been utilised successfully for over 30 years, in 124 countries, with millions of people. OST works best in situations where the theme/question/issue is complex, with no clear solution or way forward, and with groups of people with diverse backgrounds. (Owen, 2008)
The Five Conditions of Use There are five ideal conditions which Owen (2008) suggests should be taken into consideration when determining whether Open Space Technology is an appropriate method to use with a group. 1. Presence of a real issue to be addressed - OST is not simply about engaging in an interesting process. 2. Presence of an issue of great complexity. 3. Diversity in relation to the people and views present. 4. Real passion for the issue among the people present. 5. Need for the issue to be dealt with urgently, with ‘a decision time of yesterday’. (Owen, 2008:20) Key ingredients – Passion, Responsibility and Voluntary Participation Owen (2008) places strong emphasis on certain essential ingredients for OST to work. These include ‘passion’ for the issues being addressed; the taking of ‘responsibility’ by the participants to contribute fully and in the best way for them; and ‘voluntary’ self-selection on behalf of the participants. According to Owen (2008:29-30), ‘being a volunteer is the prime prerequisite for the full expression of passion and responsibility’. The Four Principles & One Law Open Space Technology is based on four principles and one law. The four principles are the following: 1. ‘Whoever comes is the right people’. (Owen, 2008:115) This principle implies that it is not important how many people come (either to the OST session, or to individual topic groups within the overall session), or what their outside roles are, but that they are the right people, because they are the ones who cared enough about the issue or topic to come. 2. ‘Whatever happens is the only thing that could have’. (Owen, 2008:115) This principle implies that organisers and facilitators should accept and cherish what happens, and not spend time and energy wishing to control what cannot be controlled, and focusing on ‘should-have beens, could-have-beens, or might-have beens’. (Owen, 2008:118) 3. ‘Whenever it starts is the right time’. (Owen, 2008:115)
This principle implies that organisers and facilitators in particular, should not get hungup on starting times. For OST to work, the process and all that takes place within it cannot be pre-ordained or controlled. For meaningful, useful, productive engagement, ‘creativity and spirit’ need to be present and ‘neither pays much attention to the clock’. (Owen, 2008:119) The session will, and must be allowed to, start and finish when the group is moved to action or ready to break away from the discussions/action. This leads onto the last principle. 4. ‘When it’s over, it’s over’. (Owen, 2008:115) This principle implies if the objectives have been completed before the expected finish time, the session needs to end, or move on, at that point. This principle also allows for ‘When it’s not over, it’s not over’, meaning that a group can decide not to move on or finish should they wish to stay in a specific discussion etc. (Owen, 2008:120) This may need to be managed (e.g. move to a different location) but should be encouraged and facilitated. (Owen, 2008:115-120) The one law of Open Space Technology is ‘The Law of Two Feet/Mobility’. (Owen, 2008:120) This law refers to the responsibility that individual participants should take in order to guarantee their full and best participation. This law encourages participants to move if they feel they are in a situation where they are no longer learning, and/or have nothing left to contribute. In these situations it is time to join a different discussion where they can be productive. (Owen, 2008:120-121) Through ‘The Law of Two Feet/Mobility’ comes the creation of ‘bumblebees’ and ‘butterflies’. Bumblebees are participants who flit between different discussions which results in pollination and cross-pollination of ideas from one discussion to another, ‘lending richness and variety to the discussions’. (Owen, 2008:122) Butterflies are the participants who hang around the spaces but never really engage in any of the discussions. They have a significant purpose as they provide space, or stopping points, for other participants to take time out, have silence, or converse about thoughts, feelings, reflections etc. they have. Butterflies ‘create centers of nonaction, where silence may be enjoyed or some new, unexplored topic of conversation engaged’. (Owen, 2008:123)
The Facilitator Although there is a facilitator involved in OST, much of his/her work is done before the actual OST session takes place. On the day, the facilitatorâ€™s role is to explain the tools and techniques involved in OST to the gathered participants, in the space he/she has created, and then step back and allow the tools and techniques to work. Therefore, the four principles and one law listed above, are not for the facilitator alone to know and understand, but instead are communicated clearly to the participants and displayed individually, in sign form and in sequence, on the walls of the rooms which will be used. (Owen, 2008) Guaranteed outcomes OST, when the guidelines are followed by organisers, facilitators and participants, comes with 4 guaranteed outcomes. If participants choose to fully participate and take responsibility for putting forward any topics they choose to have discussed, then 1. All issues of concern to anyone present will have been raised. 2. All issues raised will have been discussed. If time allows and computer support is present 3. A full report of the issues and discussions will be in the hands of all participants when leaving (this can be provided later to participants if necessary). If time allows and if it is part of the agenda to identity future actions, then 4. An action plan, prioritising actions within stated timeframes, will be produced. (Owen, 2008:37-38) Not all OST sessions will need or want to move to action planning, OST can be used for â€˜collegial gatherings where the discussion itself is the final objectiveâ€™ and has been used to fit into as short a time span as a fifty-five minute school hour. (Owen, 2008:45)
OPEN SPACE TECHNOLOGY IN ACTION What follows outlines why and how OST was used as part of a PhD research project. CONTEXT In February 2015 I started work on a PhD research project 1 examining the identities of Irish FET practitioners and the impact of recent changes on those identities. Irish Further Education and Training (FET) practitioners constitute a very diverse group: although all are working to create and sustain effective learning environments within their communities, often that is where the similarity can end. The Irish FET sector consists of numerous and diverse learning and teaching environments and, and FET practitioners have an array of backgrounds in relation to their own education, training, professional qualifications, career goals, values and beliefs about learning and teaching, and workplace contexts and ethoses. As a FET practitioner myself (Back to Education Initiative Tutor and Community Education Facilitator), I realised that I didn’t know what other practitioners in other parts of the sector knew about the changes that had been (and are) taking place within our sector; I didn’t know how they viewed these changes, or what their vision for the sector was. At a Further Education and Training Forum Colloquium in Waterford Institute of Technology on 18th February 2015, I witnessed similar confusion among stakeholders associated with the Irish FET sector. It was clear that there was no definitive or accepted definition of what a FET practitioner is, or what the FET sector consists of. It appeared that there was a lack of knowledge, understanding, appreciation and even acceptance within and of the various parts that make up the FET sector. Due to the limitations of my own knowledge and experience, the apparent confusion within the sector, and the limited literature available, I felt I needed to do a scoping exercise with Irish FET practitioners as the starting point for my research project. Thus, I decided to hold a consultation event with FET practitioners to address the question, ‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’. OST was chosen as the method to consult with other FET practitioners, as it is an effective method for bringing together diverse groups, it ‘is particularly
The project is funded through a Waterford Institute of Technology scholarship
powerful when nobody knows the answer’ (Owen, 2008:18) and as it allowed me to combat any assumptions that I, as the researcher, facilitator, and FET practitioner, may have had. In May 2015, in Waterford City, I held a scoping event with 15 FET practitioners working in Waterford City and the surrounding areas. The aim of the event was to capture the views and opinions of FET practitioners, under the theme – ‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’. The 15 participants consisted of 7 men and 8 women, who were aged between 25 and 65. The participants represented a huge range of FET work experiences, including Youthreach, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), Back to Education Initiatives (BTEI), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Colleges of Further Education, Adult Literacy Services, Community Education, community training centres, private and community providers of FET programmes. RUNNING
IMPLEMENTATION IN ACTION Length of an OST session OST sessions can run for less than one day, or up to 5 days. The number of participants can and does vary, from as few as 5, up to over 2000. (Herman, 2006; Owen, 2008; McDonald et al., 2009) The scoping event held in May 2015 was a half day event. The Invitation When issuing an invitation to potentially interested people, Owen (2008) and Herman (2006) recommend that the invitees should be given only as much information as is needed, because ‘when you give out all possible information, there is no room for imagination’. (Owen, 2008:36) All that needs to be clearly communicated is the theme, which should be phrased as a question, rather than a statement. It should be the ‘simplest possible statement of the largest possible purpose’. (Herman, 2006:6)
Emailed invitations to the event were disseminated to FET practitioners in various FET contexts in Waterford City and surrounding areas either directly from myself or through identified gate keepers (managers and programme coordinators). The Location/Setting For OST to be effective, one large, main room and several, easy to access, smaller break-out rooms or spaces are required, where participants can sit in a circle without overcrowding. Displayed around the walls in all the rooms will be signs stating the 4 principles and the 1 law associated with OST. (Owen, 2008) A main room and two break away rooms were used for the May scoping event. Main Room Ideally, the main room at an OST event will have a coffee-break setup and computers (if they are going to be used to type up the records of discussions on the day). One wall of the main room should display the ‘community bulletin board’, which becomes the agenda and schedule – see Figure 1 below which is from the May scoping event. This is constructed by participants when they place post-its identifying their self-selected areas of interest into boxes, corresponding with certain times and break out rooms. (Owen, 2008) The main room of the May scoping event adhered to the above guidelines, with the exception that there was not a computer area. During longer OST sessions, it is typical for the discussion groups to have a group member take notes on what is being discussed and then type up these notes before the day is over. Due to the limited time for this event, I organised 3 scribes to record in an anonymous manner (no names) the key points of the discussions which took place. These records were typed up (with no amendments made to the content of the records) by myself and disseminated to the participants. Break Out Rooms/Spaces Break out rooms or spaces are needed to facilitate the multitude of issues and topics to be discussed. These spaces should be big enough to allow a circle of chairs to be set up for approximately 10 people. When figuring out how many break out spaces to have for an OST session, Owen (2008) advises that the ‘workable rule of thumb is five per one hundred
participants’. (Owen, 2008:49). This means you will have 6 spaces per 100 participants – 1 main room and 5 break out spaces. There were 15 participants present at the scoping event, and I made the decision to have two break out rooms (thus three discussion spaces) to facilitate as many topics as the group wanted to discuss in the limited time period. I knew it was possible that not all spaces would be used/needed during all three different discussion time slots. Figure 1: Community bulletin board template used for the May scoping event
Time Slot A
Time Slot B
Time Slot C
4.40 – 5
B2 (recorder) On the first floor to left of stairs B1 (recorder) First floor, directly above main area The Scoping Event Itself On the afternoon of the May scoping event, participants arrived into the main room where they were given an envelope with a participant information sheet, a consent form to read and sign, and support contact details should they need support after the event. They sat in a circle of chairs in the middle of the room. When the majority were present (a small number of participants had informed me they would be late arriving) and had signed their consent forms, the session started with a welcome and introduction from myself as the facilitator and researcher, an explanation of how the session would run, and an introduction to Open Space Technology. I explained the 4 principles and 1 law, which were displayed around the room,
and explained how the group would set the agenda by writing any topic they wished to discuss under the theme/question ‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners’ on post-its. The group were supplied with post-its and markers which had been placed on the floor in the middle of the circle. Once they had written on their post-its, the participants were invited to stand up, state their topic for discussion to the group and place their post-it on the community bulletin board, choosing the specific timeslot and location they wished to be used for their theme. Some participants chose to group their topics together under one discussion slot. Once the agenda and timetable were established, the group broke into 3 smaller discussion groups, with individual participants free to move from group to group. I rang a bell when it was time for the discussion groups to change topics and at this point participants would consult the community bulletin board and decide which room/discussion to attend next. By the end of the afternoon, 8 discussion groups had taken place. To end the session, the group were invited back into the main room where I thanked them, invited feedback on the process and facilitated a closing circle. The agenda as set The range of topics identified and discussed under the theme ‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’ were vast and diverse. 8 discussions took place over a 1 hour and 55 minute period. The following lists the topics named by the participants (as they were written up by the participants). 1. Marking systems; Poorly written modules 2. Lack of recognition and status –‘proper’ teacher’; Recognition of profession 3. Certification pressure – Not a success unless certified - Students completing courses/programmes 4. Those teachers in F.E. sector dealing with most disadvantaged students are not given adequate recognition/funding 5. Work Experience 6. The effects of DSP (Department of Social Protection) on learners and projects – Forcing people into education 7. ‘Tutor’ V
8. Matching tutors with programme on experience of topic – I am not given the notes to teach. I do it myself - Consistency in programmes It was interesting, that while the participants were being asked who they were (in relation to their professional identities as practitioners), what was most pressing for the participants to discuss was often related to conditions of employment and characteristics of their current working climates. KEY MESSAGES FROM THE RECORDED DISCUSSIONS A vast quantity of information was recorded and obtained from the discussions which took place as part of the scoping event, relating to structural factors and issues, and to macro and micro level policies and positions, as well as to individual modules, practitioners and groups of learners. While it is not possible to present and discuss all the data here, the following summarises and outlines three of the key messages and points which came out of the discussions. Human Resource Issues Numerous issues relating to inconsistent and un-standardised human resource practices within the FET sector were identified and discussed throughout the afternoon. There was an overwhelming sense of confusion, doubt, insecurity and fear among many of the participants, and in particular those working with part-time FET programmes, in relation to their job security and employment arrangements. For those who had contracts, temporary and insufficient contracts were an important issue. For others, the lack of any contract and in particular Contracts of Indefinite Duration (CIDs) were a clear cause for concern. For part-time FET practitioners, who are paid an hourly rate, the lack of holiday or sick pay, or pay for corrections, were seen as significant issues. Many felt they were underemployed and had too much unpaid time off e.g. summers, mid-term breaks etc. It also emerged that different terms were being used by employers to describe staff, which impacted on rates of pay. For example, ‘teachers’ are paid more than ‘tutors’ by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs). The same practitioner could be delivering a Communications
module in a College of Further Education and being referred to as teacher, and delivering the same module on a Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) and being referred to as a tutor. In addition to being described differently in the different contexts, he or she would also be paid differently, being paid less for the ‘tutor’ role with BTEI. The issue of terminology and the fact that different terms are used for FET practitioners in different FET contexts (including teacher, tutor, trainer, facilitator, instructor and lecturer) was also identified as causing confusion when it came to professional identity and individuals trying to identify with the overall sector. It was felt that there was no common term for FET practitioners and no common understanding of the purpose of FET or FET practitioners and that this was compounded by inconsistent and un-standardised human resource practices by employers of FET practitioners in relation to pay, contracts and employee recruitment criteria. Professionalisation and Registration There was tremendous confusion and varying opinions among the FET practitioners present as to what qualifies FET practitioners to call themselves professional. This was also reflected in the criteria used by the participants’ various employers to define ‘professional’, and the different levels and types of education and experience held by the FET practitioners present. In some FET contexts, having a NFQ Level 6 Train the Trainer qualification was seen as sufficient to deliver modules on FET programmes. In other contexts, practitioners were asked to have a qualification at NFQ Level 7 or 8 in the area in which they teach, as well as a specific qualification in training or teaching. The Teaching Council currently requires individuals to have a qualification in teaching in further education at either Level 8 or Level 9 in order to register with them as Further Education Teachers. However, many of the FET practitioners present were not required to register with the Teaching Council in order to work within their FET contexts. Matching of Learners to FET Courses and Programmes A strong focus on learners was apparent throughout the discussions. The problem of mismatches between learners and courses was highlighted strongly by the participants. It was felt that outside referrers were often ill-informed on FET options available
to unemployed people. This led to inappropriate referrals, where learners were placed on courses they had no interest in, or at a level that was too high or too low for them. Participants also felt that at times unemployed people were inappropriately placed on full-time FET courses and programmes in order to get them off the live register. FET practitioners often experienced these â€˜mis-placedâ€™ learners as uninterested, with no clear career path, and at times disruptive. In some cases, inappropriate referrals can lead to learners dropping out: this can negatively impact the completion rates on FET programmes, which can in turn impact funding received by FET providers. These issues place more pressure and stress on FET practitioners and their co-ordinators and managers. CONCLUSION Open Space Technology is an interesting and empowering method to use with a group of participants who have a lot to say about an issue that directly impacts them. Participants from the May scoping event reported that they found the experience enjoyable and interesting. As a facilitator and researcher, there were challenges around balancing OST principles and best practice guidelines on the one hand, with academic and research best practice on the other hand, as well as having to let go of control on the day of the event, and somewhat blindly trusting the OST process. Fortunately, the day was a success in terms of hosting an engaging scoping event and obtaining valuable, participant lead and focused data. Through the use of OST, the scoping event provided a space to allow FET practitioners to give voice to issues impacting their professional identity and day-to-day work places. The data from the event served to provide focus for the next stages of the research project, and it is hoped that the overall research project will continue to give voice to FET practitioners, by communicating the research findings to a wider audience, including policy makers and others who have the power to impact FET practitionersâ€™ lives and identities by shaping and changing their professional worlds.
Contact Details for Sarah Bates Evoy: email@example.com
REFERENCES Herman, M. (2006) Open Space Technology: An Inviting Guide, 4th Ed. [Internet Resource] http://www.michaelherman.com/publications/inviting_guide.pdf (27.2.15) McDonald, D., Bammer, G. & Deane, P. (2009) Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods. Australia: ANU E Press. Owen, H. (2008) Open Space Technology: A Userâ€™s Guide, 3rd Ed. California: BerrettKoehler Publishers Inc.
Using Open Space Technology to look at the question – ‘Who are Further Education and Training practitioners?’
Sarah Bates Evoy firstname.lastname@example.org
4 stage PhD research project looking at practitioner identities in the Irish Further Education and Training (FET) sector and the impact of recent changes on those identities Little to no literature Hugely diverse group Where to begin? How to consult with FET practitioners?
OPEN SPACE TECHNOLOGY (OST) •
Aim – agenda setting, discussion of issues, action planning
Objectives – theme, agenda, participants
Outcomes – issues raised, discussed, reported on, action plan
OST – THE 4 PRINCIPLES & 1 LAW 1.
Whoever comes is the right people
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
Whenever it starts is the right time
When it’s over, it’s over
1. The Law of Two Feet/Mobility
Length = 50 mins – 5 days
Size = 5 – 1000 participants
Main room – circle, coffee-break set up, community bulletin board
Break-out rooms – circle, 5 per 100, recorder
Food and drink
MAY 8TH 2015 CONSULTATION EVENT
A Friday afternoon 2 – 5
Emailed invite – gatekeepers
15 participants – 8 female, 7 male aged between 26 and 65
Diverse FET experiences
Youthreach Back to Education Initiatives (BTEI) Colleges of Further Education Community Education Private providers of FET programmes
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Adult Literacy Services Community training centres Community projects delivering FET programmes
AGENDA / SCHEDULE Time Slot A A1 (recorder) Main area
B2 (recorder) On the first floor to the left of the stairs B1 (recorder) On the first floor, directly above main area
Time Slot B
Time Slot C
4.40 â€“ 5
ISSUES EXPRESSED •
Structural issues e.g. human resource issues, registration, professionalisation
Macro level policies and positions e.g. aim of FET, financial and DSP motivations
Content of modules e.g. module descriptors, QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) demands versus the needs of learners and/or industry
Learners e.g. matching learners to courses, learner criteria, disadvantaged learners
FURTHER READING •
Owen, H. (2008) Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide. 3rd Ed. California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. [Internet Resource] http://www.bsp.msu.edu/uploads/files/Reading_ Resources/Open_Space_Technology.pdf (Accessed 8.12.15)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact Sarah Bates Evoy email@example.com 0871558116
ABSTRACT THE DISORIENTATING DILEMMA: HOW DOES ADULT EDUCATORS’ ENGAGEMENT WITH DIGITAL LITERACIES IN PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMMES IMPACT ON THEIR PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY ? Paul Gormley, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, NUI Galway The need to reappraise adult educators’ professional competence has been highlighted in light of the rapidly changing landscape of lifelong learning, its participants and its practices (voor Beleid, 2010; Teaching Council, 2011; CEDEFOP, 2013; European Commission, 2013). For example, recent European policy has highlighted the need for the increased professionalism of adult educators stating that ‘support should be provided for specific programmes for adult educators’ (European Commission, 2008, p12); while SOLAS (2014, p20) argues for an approach that ‘marries pedagogical skills with up-to-date industry relevant expertise’ for staff that have education and training delivery responsibilities. Associated with these discussions is the notion of Digital Literacy (DL) emerging as an important ‘new’ generic competency in society, with technology tools and practices increasingly prevalent in education, the workplace and everyday life (European Commission, 2013). In Higher and Further Education discourse, a strong body of current research supports the view that the development of digital literacies is now an essential competency of adult educators in the lifelong learning sector (Laurillard, 2012); with the associated concern that potential benefits arising from technologyenhanced learning may not be accessible for learners if the adult educators they engage with are not confident or competent in their capacity to develop digital literacies (Weller, 2011). This view has lead to the development of a range of pedagogical frameworks (e.g. Beetham, 2010; Martin, 2005) that enable the embedding of contextual digital literacy tools practices into professional education programmes (PEPs). The outcomes of such approaches are now emerging through initiatives such as the FutureLearn MOOC Blended Learning Essentials for Further Education (launched in October 2015) and well PEPs offered by educational providers in Ireland (e.g. NUI Galway BA in Education and Training). However, there is currently a lack of research that evidences how adult educators react to engaging in such PEPs, specifically in terms of their professional identity (Bouwma-Gearhart, 2012). As such, how do we know if these curricula hold value in the eyes of our key stakeholders? Are their experiences positive or negative? Can we have confidence that the PEPs being developed using the research-based approaches highlighted above are providing tangible opportunities for adult educators to develop the capabilities they need now and into the future? To answer this, we need the direct input of adult educators. This paper presents the insights of adult educators who engaged with a third year undergraduate BA in Education and Training module titled ‘The Virtual Learning Environment’ in 2014. This module employed the DigEULit digital literacy framework approach (Martin, 2005) to embed digital literacies into that curriculum. The following feedback themes harvested from adult educators through Professional Learning Journal posts and semi-structured interviews will be presented: self efficacy; engaging with authentic hands-on activities; transfer from the educational setting to the workplace; and the overall impact of adult educators engaging with this curriculum in terms of their professional identity What will this tell us? Will it reveal digital literacies engagement as a disorientating dilema (Mezirow, 2000) bringing ‘emotional discomfort’ (Schon, 1987)? Will it lead to a continuing ‘virtuous circle of success’ (Rogers, 2002, p3) or possibly a ‘learned helplessness’ in learners (Peterson et al, 1993; Seligman, 1998)? These are important questions which this presentation will address. This presentation will be of interest to HE/FE educational providers, policy makers and practitioners; particularly those interested in digital literacy framework and QQI standards development.
REFERENCES Beetham, H. (2010). Understanding Students’ Uses of Technology for Learning: Towards Creative Appropriation. Rethinking Learning for the Digital Age: How Learners Shape their Experiences, 85-99. Bouwma-Gearhart, J. (2012). Science Faculty Improving Teaching Practice: Identifying Needs and Finding Meaningful Professional Development.International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 24(2), 180-188. CEDEFOP (2013) Trainers in Continuing VET: Emerging Competence Profile. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. European Commission (2008) European Parliament Resolution of 16 January 2008 on Adult Learning: It is Never Too Late to Learn. Brussels: European Commission. European Commission (2013) Improving the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Europe’s Higher Education Institutions. Brussels: European Commission. Laurillard, D (2012. Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York: Routledge. Martin, A. (2005) DigEuLit – a European Framework for Digital Literacy: a Progress Report. Journal of eLiteracy, 2, pp.130-136. Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Research voor Beleid (2010) Key Competences for Adult Learning Professionals: Contribution to the Development of a Reference Framework of Key Competences for Adult Learning Professionals. Final report. Zoetermeer. Rogers, C. (2002). Developing a Positive Approach to Failure. In Peelo, M. and Wareham, T., (Eds), Failing Students in Higher Education. London: Open University Press. Schön, D. (1987). Educating the Reflective Practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Seligman, M. (1998). Learned Optimism. New York: Pocket Books. SOLAS (2014) Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-19. Department of Education and Sills. Teaching Council (2011) Further Education: General and Programme Requirements for the Accreditation of Teacher Education Qualifications. Maynooth: Teaching Council. Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice. London: Bloomsbury.
The Disorientating Dilemma How does adult educators engagement with digital literacy in professional education programmes impact on their professional identity?
Paul Gormley Discipline of Adult Training and Education Studies Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, NUI Galway Director and Chair, Irish Learning Technology Association
The Disorientating Dilemma: Digital Literacies
The Disorientating Dilemma: Digital Literacies Gap
The Disorientating Dilemma: Digital Literacies Frameworks
The Disorientating Dilemma: Curriculum Engagement BEING • Immersion in one's practice • Ontological engagement • Identity as an educator • Professonal values
• Theories & concepts • Core values
• Pedagogical skills, methods, media, environment
Barnett and Coate, 2005
The Disorientating Dilemma: Student Perspective Dear Paul Iâ€™m wondering if you could help me out. My final assignment mark does not seem to align with my digital literacy score. I am not sure where I went wrong. I really enjoyed the module BTW.
The Disorientating Dilemma: Impact on Professional ID Digital literacies engagement as a disorientating and disruptive dilema (Mezirow, 2000)
Introducing ‘Emotional discomfort’ (Schon, 1987) Leading to A continuing ‘virtuous circle of success’ (Rogers, 2002, p3) OR A ‘learned helplessness’ in learners (Peterson et al, 1993; Seligman, 1998)
Curriculum Response: VLE Module Yr 3 BA Training and Education
Contextualised Curricula @ NUI Galway Activities: Developing Critical Thinking
â€Śthe tools and practices - Continuous Assessment: - Lesson Plan using YouTube Resources
Contextualised Curricula @ NUI Galway Activities: Normal Practice, not BEST Practice
â€¦the tools and practices - Continuous Assessment: - Creating Instructional Videos Screen-O-Matic
Contextualised Curricula @ NUI Galway Activities: Authentic Related to the Professional Context …the tools and practices – Assignment:
The Adult Educator Perspective • Pre and post course self efficacy survey • Professional Learning Journal • Semi-structured interviews
Internal Feedback and Self Monitoring
Student Accounts and Themes All the hiccups with Blackboard and viruses allowed me to work harder in finding a solution. For example, trying to embed the YouTube codes. I eventually successful in uploading the video it to the blog I intend to use Moodle as a support tool as it can host YouTube videos, narrated power points and instructional videos, formative assessments, blogs and discussion boards Creating an instructional video where we uploaded a video and embedded it on to a community blog taking a constructive alignment approach to describe the learning activity. This was a handâ€™s on experience for me which helped me understand the concept of eTivities. It is a useful activity to deliver tasks to my learners and I plan to use more of this in the future.
Student Accounts and Themes The technology is adaptable and flexible that I can integrate it into the various courses I teach, from Retail Sales to First aid. The ability to put a Business Plan together in the future this will be another excellent tool to have for the purpose of expressing or selling a course to buyer or indeed the board of management. With this knowledge I can begin to explore the possibility of creating an online course myself.
My use of Screencast-O-Matic made me aware of and gave me the facility to synthesize my own resources, either from scratch or as an enhancement to existing resources. I should add to these synthesis tools my use of online surveys and Google-Drives test-making tool.
The Disorientating Dilemma: Impact on Professional ID Digital literacies engagement as a disorientating and disruptive dilema (Mezirow, 2000)
Introducing ‘Emotional discomfort’ (Schon, 1987) Leading to A continuing ‘virtuous circle of success’ (Rogers, 2002, p3) OR A ‘learned helplessness’ in learners (Peterson et al, 1993; Seligman, 1998)
Student Recommendations Assessment and Feedback Authentic Activities
Importance of peer groupings Repositioning the VLE module Role of Reflection
Implications Adult Educatorsâ€™ Professionalism and Identity Evidence Base for Irish and EU policy Important Stakeholder contribution to Standards Developmet
Informs Programme Design and Development Adding to academic research base in HE/FE/LLL/DL
Thank You and Questions
Paul Gormley Discipline of Adult Training and Education Studies Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, NUI Galway Director and Chair, Irish Learning Technology Association
The Further Education Student Teacher: Factors which influence professional teacher identity examined through reflection Author: Brenda Ivers
“Consciously, we teach what we know; unconsciously, we teach who we are.” (Hamachek 1999, p.209) Research Rationale This research focuses on the factors which influence professional teacher identity; these are examined through reflection. This research is based on the Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education) (PDE(FE)) programme at National University Ireland, Galway (NUIG). The programme is a modular based two-year part-time distance learning programme that is delivered using a blended learning approach. The programme is designed for individuals working in, or intending to work in, the Further Education (FE) sector as a further education teacher. On completion of the programme, students obtain a National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) Level 8 teaching qualification which enables them to register with the Teaching Council of Ireland (TCI) as a Further Education Teacher. This programme is a relatively new programme; two cohorts of students have now completed and graduated from programme to date. The aim of this research is inform the PDE(FE) programme going forward by identifying which factors (if any) influence professional teacher identity. Teacher Professional Identity The concept of teacher professional identity is now frequently used in the literature but to date there is no consensus regarding a clear definition of the concept (Beijaard et al. 2004; Sutherland et al. 2010; Korthagen 2004). Questions such as “who am I?”, “what kind of teacher do I want to be?” and “how do I see my role as a teacher” are all key questions in the development of teachers’ professional identity (Korthagen 2004, p.81). The research also illustrates a teacher’s professional identity continues to change commencing with and through initial teacher education and onwards throughout a teacher’s career (Pillen et al. 2013; Sutherland et al. 2010; Walkington 2005). Professional identity is perceived as being an ongoing process of transforming ones’ knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, values and personal characteristics with the role of the professional teacher (Beijaard et al. 2004; Pillen et al. 2013). One broad definition of teacher professional identity is: “who or what someone is, the various meanings someone can attach to oneself or the meaning attributed to oneself by others” (Beijaard 1995, p.282). Sachs (2005, p.15) sees teacher professional identity at the core of the profession and as a framework for teachers to construct their own ideas of ‘how to be’, ‘how to act’ and ‘how to understand’. Furthermore Sachs sees teacher professional identity as an ongoing and continuous process which is reconstructed through experiences. The learning journey (professional formation) of teachers differs from teacher to teacher as they develop professionally (Tedder & Lawy 2013). Furthermore, this professional formation commences with initial teacher education programmes and develops through teachers’ careers from their early careers through their mid and late careers. This concurs with Sachs’ notion of professional teacher Page 1
identity as an ongoing process which is negotiated through experiences. On this learning journey, an epistemological shift in knowledge (what one knows) and skills (what one can do) occurs and often this is the focus of initially teacher education programmes. Dall’Alba (2009) suggests however that while this epistemological shift is certainly essential, learning to become a professional also involves an ontological shift (who one is becoming). This concurs with recent research which suggests that learning to become a teacher involves, not only the acquisition of new knowledge and skills in order to learn how to teach, but equally involves knowing how to be a teacher (Friesen & Besley 2013). Teacher Professional Identity and Reflection Where does reflection fit with a teacher’s development of their professional identity? Reflection is a critical element of teachers who are creating their identity (Freese 2006); it is through the process of reflection that student teachers deepen their understanding of their role as a teacher (Sutherland et al. 2010). While many reflections models exist, for example Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb 1984) and Gibbs Reflective Cycle (Malthouse & Roffey-Barentsen 2013) to assist aspiring and existing professionals in the process of reflection and professional advancement, the Onion model (Korthagen 2004) (Figure 1.1) is useful in helping one understand the contents of reflection. This model illustrates the various levels which influence the way in which teachers operate; the model is a two-way process whereby the outer levels influence the inner levels and the inner levels influence the outer levels. environment behaviour competencies beliefs identity mission mission
Figure 1.1: Onion Model: A Model of Levels of Change (Korthagen 2004) The two outer levels, environment (class, students and school) and behaviour are the only two layers which are observable by others. Environment and behaviour are the two levels which receive the Page 2
most focus from student teachers; student teachers examine their classroom and school environment along with their behaviour and the behaviour of their students during their teaching practice experiences (Korthagen 2004). Furthermore, these two levels typically form the contents of student teacher teaching practice reflections; they often focus on these two levels in the reflective process and create and implement action plans based on these. Often, depending on the environment (a difficult class as opposed to a less difficult class), a teacher’s behaviour can be influenced (perhaps hostile as opposed to friendly). However, as outlined above, this is a two-way process; the teacher’s behaviour (hostile as opposed to friendly) can influence the environment (the class and the students). The next level of competencies refers to knowledge, skills and attitudes; there is a clear link between the levels of competencies and behaviour. According to Korthagen, based on ones competencies, the corresponding behaviour can alter. Similarly, competencies and behaviour can influence the environment. Closely linked to competencies is the level of beliefs. Korthagen perceives that “a teacher’s competencies are determined by his or her beliefs” (2004, p.80). For example, if, as a teacher, one’s belief is that differentiation in the classroom is paramount to success then this will influence one’s competencies. The fifth level in the Onion Model is identity; identity is closely linked to beliefs. Teachers’ own beliefs along with how they see themselves shape their identity (how they perceive themselves and how others perceive them). The research varies on how one’s identity is shaped but it is generally accepted that it is an ongoing process with many influences (Pillen et al. 2013) . The final level in this model is mission which refers to a teachers ‘calling’ to the profession or their intrinsic motivation for becoming a teacher. Intrinsic motivation can be described as “the inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise one’s capacities, to explore, and to learn” (Ryan & Deci 2000, p.70). When reflection reaches these final two inner levels reflection of identity and mission, Korthagen and Valsalos define to it as core reflection (2005, p. 53). Reflection and reflective practice are important elements in the development of teacher professional identity. Furthermore, reflection and reflective practice have played a significant role in initial teacher education programmes in recent years (Griffiths 2000; Korthagen & Vasalos 2005; Soot & Viskus 2015). In terms of the contents of reflection the Onion model above provides a valuable framework for examining same; here professional identity stands at the core of the model. Research varies in how teacher professional identity is viewed but appears to agree that it is an ongoing process with many influences including: (1) personal characteristics; (2) prior learning experiences; (3) prior experiences and beliefs; (4) professional contexts and colleagues and (5) knowledge, skills and attitudes (Pillen et al. 2013). Methodology This research focuses on examining which of these elements influence student teachers on the PDE(FE) programme; a qualitative approach was used in the research design. A case study strategy allowed for an in-depth study of the phenomenon. A case study enables the study of real people in real situations which allows for the exploration of particular phenomena within real-life contexts which may not be achievable by a quantitative approach (Cohen et al. 2011, p.289). Participants were drawn from the second cohort of students to graduate from the PDE(FE). Data was collected through student reflective submissions including learning blogs and reflective learning journals from Page 3
self-selected participants on the programme. In addition, self-selecting participants engaged in a focused group discussion to gain further insights. A summary overview of participants is provided in Table 1.1 below. Data was analysed through a grounded theory approach providing an in-depth insight into which factors influence student teacher identity on the PDE(FE) programme; “grounded theory is an important method of theory generation” (Cohen et al. 2011, p.598). Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Emma Clodagh David Peter Michael Rebecca Laura Aisling Niamh Sarah
Female Female Male Male Male Female Female Female Female Female
Previous experience (as tutor or instructor) None None <3 <3 <5 >5 <3 None None <3
Table 1.1 Participant Details
Initial Data Analysis and Emergent Findings In line with the dimensions of teacher identity, discussed above, initial analysis of the data from this study suggests that three key factors influence teacher professional identity: (1) prior learning experiences; (2) prior experiences and beliefs and (3) knowledge, skills and attitudes. To date, the other two factors, (4) personal characteristics and (5) professional contexts and colleagues are less evident. 1. Prior Learning Experiences When examining prior learning experiences most students commenced at the point of their entering into formal education; two students reverted back further and discussed the beginning of their learning experiences in terms of their early experiences in home life with their parents. In their experiences, education played an important part of childhood. The life-long learning process began with being taught how to tie shoe laces, plant seeds correctly and learning to tell the time. The way in which this learning was experienced was in a positive, patient and nurturing nature. Furthermore, the discovery approach was often employed to facilitate learning. “As children we were always encouraged to be inquisitive” (Sarah)
One student reflected on her early learning experiences and how she didn’t appreciate the value of the learning opportunities afforded to her but now as an adult she appreciates the immense benefit of these early learning experiences and acknowledges how these have contributed to her formation.
“I did resent the endless opportunities he used to facilitate learning; we never as a family went on a Sunday drive or walk, we were probed, questioned and challenged to think constantly. As an adult on reflection I see it provided me with a solid foundation and shaped my own world views.” (Laura)
Subsequent educational experiences described by participants commenced with formal education; initial data analysis suggests that the formal educational experiences of participants have had an influence on them. One finding which emerged from the data related to the feelings which were felt in previous educational experiences. Several participants described feelings around fear in relation to formal education; fear was experienced at both primary and post-primary level. A number of participants described similar feelings such as anxiety and distress when describing previous learning experiences. While participants weren’t directly questioned about fear or negativity in relation to their prior learning experiences, they were requested to describe their previous learning experiences. The feeling of fear was closely linked to other feelings which the students described including; feeling inadequate; finding learning difficult; struggling with class work and homework; feeling less intelligent than others; feeling of potential failure and not being able to progress in educational system. “The early years of school and the introduction of teachers in the author’s life resurrect feelings of fear and inadequacy in the author. The author recounts memories of hard days, struggling; struggling with homework, struggling in class and always feeling less than intelligent than other students. Everything was always so hard and the words “stay back” had their own scary connotations.” (Emma)
Similarly, the learning process was also motivated by fear and involved memorising blocks of information; there was little evidence of giving meaning or understanding to information in the learning process. In relation to second level education experience, the following represents the thoughts of one participant: “There a focus on the consumption and retention of data was the primary objective of the educator motivated by the fear that such data would be required for regurgitation” (Michael)
Other feelings related to fear included possible humiliation within the learning environment. “There was, at times, an air of fear around not knowing the multiplication tables or how to recite passages of Irish correctly and in terms of the former, there was a particular embarrassment of being left standing at the back of the class, fumbling over the figures.” (Peter) “We were taught in quite a threatening manner” (Sarah)
Given the strong reference to fear above it is somewhat surprising to note that not all participants experienced feelings of negativity or fear in their previous educational experiences. “I don’t have bad memories of my school days” (Rebecca)
According to Mortiboys (2012, p.1) “emotions are bound up with learning”; he outlines that feelings such as fear, frustration, inadequacy, relief, resentment and excitement are common feelings which participants at his workshops on teaching with emotional intelligence have experienced when asked to recall a word that captures a strong feeling in relation to a prior learning experience. Emotional intelligence has been a popular phenomenon since the mid 1990s. One definition of teaching with emotional intelligence is: “creating a positive emotional climate; recognizing and working with the feelings of yourself and of your learners; using listening skills with groups as well as with individuals; Page 5
dealing with learners’ expectation; and having a developed self-awareness” (p.9). This combined with subject matter expertise and successful teaching and learning methodologies offer learners a valuable connection with the teacher and ultimately leads to learning. There is clear evidence from the initial data analysis in this research that strong feelings are bound up with learning for these participants. 2. Prior Experience and Beliefs Initial data analysis suggests that all participants have been influenced by prior experiences and beliefs. Teaching is one profession where learners have been observers for many years through their previous learning experiences; this is quite unique when compared with other professions. Furthermore, this observational experience has influenced pre-service teachers as they bring this influence into their teaching practice (Mayer 1999). Aspiring teachers have explicit beliefs about teaching and learning (Hollingsworth 1989). Based on prior learning experiences, student teachers recognise what teacher characteristics they aspire to possessing and what teaching and learning methodologies they want to bring to their teaching (Powell 1992); similarly, they have established the teaching philosophy they don’t aspire to, based on previous experience. One student discussed the polarised approaches taken by two teachers encountered in a previous educational experience; one teacher focused on the negativity in students and humiliated students whereas another taught in an encouraging and motivational manner. The participant discussed the striking impact these diverse approaches had on her. “It taught me that Teachers have also a responsibility in the learning process and if you can tap into the potential of your students anything is possible.” (Sarah)
Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that all participants have inherent beliefs about teaching. To date, preliminary findings suggest that, in terms of their beliefs about teaching, these pre-service teachers believe that teachers should create a learner centred and motivational environment for their learners. Moreover, initial data analysis suggests that participants believe that teachers should relate learning to learners’ real life. “For me teaching is the medium through which structured learning takes place so as to enhance the student’s life in the workplace, home, community or simply purposefully wandering in order to broaden their horizons” (Michael)
Similarly, participants possessed many beliefs about learning. These included viewing learning as a life-long process. “My beliefs about learning are that it there is never an end to ones learning.” (Niamh)
Some viewed learning as an acquisition of new knowledge and skills where the role of the teacher had an impact on learning. Furthermore, they perceived learning as being learner focused whereby the teacher should play a facilitator role. Interestingly, learning was also viewed as being difficult but that hard work can yield results. 3. Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes Finally, initial data analysis suggests that these student teachers are influenced by their knowledge, skills and attitudes. One of the major themes to emerge from the data was that of the acquisition Page 6
and development of knowledge and skills over the course of the two year programme. 60% of the participants had been working as tutors or instructors in the further education sector prior to commencing the programme; all participants had engaged in simulated teaching practice experiences during microteaching sessions where they taught a lesson which was followed by receiving feedback from fellow learners in the first year of the programme. During the second year of the programme, all participants completed a minimum of 100 supervised teaching hours on a QQI/FETAC (or equivalent) further education accredited programme which is a requirement of the Teaching Council of Ireland (Teaching Council, 2011). The acquisition and development of knowledge and skills included, but is not limited to: programme and lesson planning; teaching methodologies; constructive alignment; differentiation in the classroom; the role of assessment in the learning process; learner motivation; the concept of the flipped classroom and how to implement it effectively and quality assurance in education and the role of the teacher in the process. In particular the themed reflection submissions allowed for the participants the opportunity to examine their practices. In addition to the acquisition and development of knowledge and skills, there was also evidence of a transformation in participants’ attitudes. One of key finding which was evident was the shift in participants’ professional attitude to practice from a teacher-centred approach to a learner-centred approach; this shift in practice was one of the most significant changes to occur for many participants over the programme. The change resulted in a more facilitator approach rather than a teacher approach; a stepping aside allowing for learner activity and participation occurred. The learner centred approach allowed for more active learning whereby learners were more engaged; participants felt that this resulted in deeper learning for their learners. One consequence of this change was that participants found that they now planned for a learner-centred approach using active learning methodologies and planning for differentiation. “I considered planning the lesson from my perspective bearing in mind the pace I could teach at not properly considering the learner needs; I now strive to have a more learner-centred approach” (Sarah)
The data thus suggests that there is a shift in their professional practice and attitude as their knowledge and skills develop through the programme; this shift is facilitated through the process of reflection. It appears that participants felt that their professional practice improved through the reflective process. The reflective lesson evaluations and themed reflections submitted by students as a requirement of the PDE(FE) programme provided an opportunity for this to occur. Moreover, there was evidence of plans to use reflective practice going forward on completion of the programme as participants appreciated the benefits of using this practice in their professional careers. “I am learning how to use reflection for improvement” (Peter) “I choose areas where I deem I have difficulties with and by doing so I benefited from my research and reflection and findings” (Rebecca) “I now have a clearer understanding of the role that reflection plays in practice” (Peter)
Furthermore, reflective practice allowed for improved professional practice and at a deeper level it provided an opportunity for examining a teacher’s identity.
“This form of reflective practice can serve to increase the teacher’s knowledge and understanding of them self as well as their teaching” (David)
In addition, they saw the advantage of improving professional practice through reflection. As a developing professional they appreciated the immense benefits of using reflective practice going forward in their careers in order to continually develop as an expert teacher. Other influences It is worth noting that while the three factors which influence professional teacher identity discussed above are strongly evident in the data analysis to date, there is also some evidence of both personal characteristics and professional contexts and colleagues. In terms of personal characteristics, early analysis of the data suggest that there is some evidence of elements including acknowledging one’s learning style, wanting to work independently and being able to take constructive feedback. In terms of professional contexts and colleagues, initial data analysis indicates that elements such as collaborating with fellow learners and colleagues, experiencing diverse learning environments and acknowledging the complexity of the learning environment exist. As more detailed data analysis takes place, it will be interesting to discover what other themes emerge from the data. Conclusion To summate, this paper provides an overview of some of the literature in the area of teacher professional identity and reflective practice; furthermore, the paper presents some of the initial findings from the data analysis to date. This research is ongoing and further analysis of the data is required in order to comprehensively conclude which factors influence professional teacher identity on the PDE(FE) programme. Professional identity can be described as an evolving transformation of ones’ knowledge, beliefs and attitudes (Beijaard et al. 2004; Pillen et al. 2013); similarly, teacher professional identity is perceived as a continual process with many elements of influences (Pillen et al. 2013). These influences include: (1) personal characteristics; (2) prior learning experiences; (3) prior experiences and beliefs; (4) professional contexts and colleagues and (5) knowledge, skills and attitudes. To date initial analysis of the data in this study suggests that three key factors have emerged which influence professional teacher identity on the PDE(FE): prior learning experiences; prior experiences and beliefs along with knowledge, skills and attitude. The other two factors are less evident but exist; personal characteristics and professional contexts and colleagues. According to Korthagen’s Onion model, identity impacts teachers’ behaviour, environment (school/classroom), competencies and beliefs (Korthagen 2004). This is significant as initial findings in this research suggest the factors outlined above influence PDE(FE) teachers’ professional identity and that these factors may ultimately influence teachers’ working environments, their behaviour in the classroom, their competencies along with their beliefs. Evidence from this study thus concurs with the earlier suggestion that becoming a professional involves not only an epistemological shift, but also an ontological shift (Sachs 2005; Dall’Alba 2009). In addition, evidence from this study suggests that reflection plays a key role in the process of becoming a professional and that reflection and reflective practice are essential elements for teacher identity creation (Freese 2006). Furthermore Korthagen’s Onion model, which has identity Page 8
as a core element (Korthagen 2004), has proven an effective framework for the analysis of the contents of student teacher reflection and the impact of same on professional identity. It is thus suggested that the reflective process embedded within the PDE(FE) programme facilities reflective practice and affords students the opportunity to examine their professional practice and other issues relating to the profession. The question at this point is thus whether the programme facilitates students to reflect deeply enough in order to examine their mission and identity? Indications are that, at this point, further analysis is required in terms of whether students on the PDE(FE) programme are reflecting deeply enough in terms of their identity and intrinsic motivation for pursuing a teaching career. Furthermore, further analysis is also required in order to discover whether deep reflection of these elements will result in improved professional practice and ultimately the becoming of an expert teacher.
Beijaard, D. (1995) Teachers prior experiences and actual perceptions of professional identity. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 1(2), pp.281–294. Beijaard, D., Meijer, P.C. & Verloop, N. (2004) Reconsidering research on teachers ’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, pp.107–128. Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2011) Research Methods in Education 7th edn., Oxon: Routledge. Dall’Alba, G. (2009) Learning Professional Ways of Being : Ambiguities of becoming Learning Professional Ways of Being: Ambiguities of becoming. Educational Philsophy and Theory, 41(1). Freese, A.R. (2006) Reframing one’s teaching: Discovering our teacher selves through reflection and inquiry. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, pp.100–119. Friesen, M.D. & Besley, S.C. (2013) Teacher identity development in the first year of teacher education : A developmental and social psychological perspective. Teaching and Teacher Education, 36, pp.23–32. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2013.06.005. Griffiths, V. (2000) The reflective dimension in teacher education. International Journal of Educational Research, 33, pp.539–555. Hamachek, D. (1999) Effective teachers: What they do, how they do it, and the importance of selfknowledge. In R. P. Lipta & T. . Brinthaput, eds. The role of self in teacher development. Albany, NY: State University or New York Press, pp. 189–224. Hollingsworth, S. (1989) Prior Beliefs and Cognitive Change in Learning to Teach. American Educational Research Journal, 26(2), pp.160–189. Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Korthagen, F.A. (2004) In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, pp.77–97. Korthagen, F.A. & Vasalos, A. (2005) Levels in reflection: core reflection as a means to enhance Page 9
professional growth. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 11(1), pp.47–71. Malthouse, R. & Roffey-Barentsen, J. (2013) Reflective Practice in Education and Training 2nd Edn., London: Learning Matters. Mayer, D. (1999) Building teaching identities: implications for pre-service teacher education. In Australian Association for Research in Education & New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference. Melbourne: Australia. Pillen, M.T., Den Brok, P.J. & Beijaard, D. (2013). Profiles and change in beginning teachers ’ professional identity tensions. Teaching and Teacher Education, 34, pp.86–97. Powell, R.R. (1992) The influence of prior experiences on pedagogical constructs of traditional and nontraditional preservice teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 8(3), pp.225–238. Ryan, R.M. & Deci, E.L. (2000) Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American Psychologist, 55(1), pp.68–78. Sachs, J. (2005) Teacher education and the development of professional identity: Learning to be a teacher. In P. Denicolo & M. Kompf (Eds.), Connecting policy and practice: Challenges for teaching and learning in schools and universities (pp. 5–21). Oxford: Routledge. Soot, A. & Viskus, E. (2015) Reflection On Teaching: A Way To Learn From Practice. Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences, 191, pp.1941–1946. Sutherland, L., Howard, S. & Markauskaite, L. (2010) Professional identity creation: Examining the development of beginning preservice teachers’ understanding of their work as teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(3), pp.455–465. Tedder, M. & Lawy, R. (2013) Learning journeys: student teacher stories of professional formation. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31(1), pp.54–70. Teaching Council (2011) Further Education: General and Programme Requirements for the Accreditation of Teacher Education Qualifications, Maynooth: The Teaching Council Walkington, J. (2005) Becoming a teacher: encouraging development of teacher identity through reflective practice. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 1(33), pp.53–64.
The Further Education Student Teacher: Factors which influence professional teacher identity examined through reflection Lifelong Learning Conference, NUI Galway Friday 11th December 2015 Brenda Ivers Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development NUI Galway
RESEARCH RATIONALE Professional Diploma in Education (Further Education), (PDE(FE)), NUI Galway
DEFINITION: TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY One
broad definition of teacher professional identity is: “who or what someone is, the various meanings someone can attach to oneself or the
meanings attributed to oneself by others” (Beijaard 1995, p. 282)
TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY A Framework for teachers to construct their own ideas of:
How to Be
How to Act
How to Understand
TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY: ONGOING PROCESS
A Framework for teachers to construct their own ideas of:
How to Be
How to Act
How to Understand
TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY The learning journey (professional formation) of teachers varies from teacher to teacher as they develop
professionally commencing with initial teacher education programmes (Tedder & Lawy 2013).
LEARNING TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL
• What we know (Knowledge) • What we can do (Skills)
• Who we are (Becoming)
REFLECTION AND IDENTITY ď‚˘ Reflection
is a critical element for
teachers who are creating their identity (Freese 2006) ď‚˘ Through
the process of reflection, pre-
service teachers make sense of their
understanding of their work as a teacher (Sutherland et al. 2010)
REFLECTION AND IDENTITY: MODEL ONION MODEL: A Model of Levels
Illustrates the various levels which influence the way in which teachers operate
REFLECTION AND IDENTITY ONION MODEL:
A Model of Levels of Change
Illustrates the various levels which influence the way in which teachers operate
LITERATURE: TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY Research varies in how teacher
Teacher Professional Identity
identity is viewed
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
LITERATURE: FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY Prior Learning Experiences
Prior Experiences and Beliefs
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
Professional Contexts and Colleagues
RESEARCH The Further Education Student Teacher: Factors which influence professional teacher identity examined through reflection
A qualitative approach is used in the research
Research population are drawn from students participating on the PDE(FE) programme (self-
selecting participants): 10 participants from 2013/15
Research Strategy: Case Study
Data collection: Reflective submissions/FGD
Data analysis: Grounded theory
DATA ANALYSIS TO DATE: FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY
Prior Learning Experiences
Prior Experiences and Beliefs
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
Professional Contexts and Colleagues
Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
DATA ANALYSIS TO DATE: FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY Prior Experience and Beliefs Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
Prior Learning Experiences Personal Characteristics
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
Professional Contexts and Colleagues
FINDINGS: PRIOR LEARNING EXPERIENCES
Feeling fear/anxiety/ distress
Learning in the early years
Experiencing active teaching methodologies
Prior Learning Experiences
Experiencing a learner centred environment
Embedding learning through real life experiences
LEARNING IN THE EARLY YEARS
Learning from an early age at home
Learning was experienced in positive, nurturing and patient manner
This positivity instilled the love of learning
“As children we were always encourages to be inquisitive” Student 1315_10
LEARNING IN THE EARLY YEARS “I did resent the endless opportunities he used to facilitate learning; we never as a family went on a Sunday drive or walk, where we weren’t probed, questioned and challenged to think
constantly. As an adult on reflection I see it provided me with a solid foundation and shaped my own world views” Student 1315_07
FEELING FEAR/ANXIETY/DISTRESS Feeling fear/anxiety/distress in primary and post-primary education Other feelings:
feeling inadequate feeling a potential failure struggling with class work and homework
“...always feeling less intelligent than other students” Student 1315_01
“Everything was always so hard and the words “stay back” had their own scary connotations” Student 1315_01
FEELING FEAR/ANXIETY/DISTRESS â€œThere was, at times, an air of fear around not knowing the multiplication tables or how to recite passages of Irish correctly and in terms of the former, there was a particular
embarrassment of being left standing at the back of the classâ€? Student 1315_10
DATA ANALYSIS TO DATE: FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY Prior Experience and Beliefs
Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
Prior Learning Experiences
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
Professional Contexts and Colleagues
FINDINGS: KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ATTITUDES
Improving professional practice through reflection
Shifting from teachercentred to learnercentred
Acquiring and developing knowledge and skills
Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
Identifying strengths and weaknesses
Developing as a professional
SHIFTING FROM TEACHER-CENTRED TO LEARNER-CENTRED Experiencing
the greatest change in teaching practice Shifting in practice from role of didactic teacher to role of facilitator Finding oneself stepping aside to allow learners to discuss and debate Allowing for discussion among learners resulting in learner engagement, active learning and deeper learning
“I considered planning the lesson from my perspective bearing in mind the pace I
could teach at not properly
“I can change my
considering the learners needs; I
now strive to have a more
and approach’s in
learner -centred approach”
order to meet the
learning needs of my learners” Student 1315_01
IMPROVING PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE THROUGH REFLECTION Reflecting
on teaching practice Learning about their professional practice through reflection “I choose areas where I
“I now have a
deem I have difficulties
with and by doing so I
benefited from my
the role that
research and reflection
reflection plays in
DATA ANALYSIS TO DATE: FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY Prior Experience and Beliefs Prior Learning Experiences
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
Professional Contexts and Colleagues
Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
FINDINGS: PRIOR EXPERIENCES AND BELIEFS
Having beliefs about learning
Having beliefs about teaching
Being shaped by previous experiences
Prior Experiences and Beliefs
Being influenced to work in area of teaching
Being exposed to teaching & learning
HAVING BELIEFS ABOUT TEACHING Student Teacher
observation experience should create learning conducive
and motivational learning environment Teaching
is the dissemination of knowledge
should relate learning to learners’
â€œTeaching for me is all about instruction,
passing on knowledge, creating practical examples and as well as that creating the right environment in which
the learner feels comfortable and thus enhances and cultivates the learning experience.â€? Student 1315_03
â€œFor me teaching is the medium through
which structured learning takes place so as to enhance the studentâ€™s life in the workplace, home, community or simply purposefully wandering in order to broaden their horizonsâ€? Student 1315_05
HAVING BELIEFS ABOUT LEARNING Learning
should be learner focused
should take place in a learning
conducive environment The
teacher should play a facilitator role
hard can yield positive results
can be difficult
“As a young student, the author had developed an attitude that learning was problematic and hard.” Student 1315_01
“My beliefs about learning are that it there is never an end to ones learning.” Student 1315_09
DATA ANALYSIS TO DATE: FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY
Prior Learning Experiences
Prior Experience and Beliefs
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
Professional Contexts and Colleagues
Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY Prior Learning Experiences
(Pillen et al. 2013, p. 87).
Prior Experience and Beliefs
Knowledge, Skills & Attitudes
Professional Contexts and Colleagues
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THESE FINDINGS? ONION MODEL:
A Model of Levels of Change
TEACHER PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY “Consciously, we teach what we know;
unconsciously, we teach who we are.” (Hamachek 1999, p. 209)
Beijaard, D. (1995) ‘Teachers’ Prior Experiences and Actual Perceptions of Professional Identity’, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 1(2), pp. 281-294. Dall 'Alba, G. (2009) ‘Learning Professional Ways of Being: Ambiguities of becoming’ Educational Philosophy and Theory, 41(1), pp. 34-35.
Flores, M., & Day, C. (2006) ‘Contexts which shape and reshape new teachers' identities: a multi-perspective study’, Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(2), pp. 219-232. Freese, A. (2006) ‘Reframing one's teaching: Discovering our teacher selves through reflection and inquiry’, Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, pp. 100-119. Hamachek, D. (1999) Effective teachers: What they do, how they do it, and the importance of selfknowledge. In R. P. Lipta & T. . Brinthaput, eds. The role of self in teacher development. Albany, NY: State University or New York Press, pp. 189–224. Korthagen, F. (2004) ‘In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more holistic approach in teacher education’, Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, pp. 77-97. Pillen, M., Den Brok, P., & Beijaard, D. (2013) ‘Profiles and change in beginning teachers' professional identity tensions’, Teaching and Teacher Education, 34, pp. 86-97. Sachs, J. (2005) Teacher education and the development of professional identity: Learning to be a teacher. In P. Denicolo & M. Kompf (Eds.), Connecting policy and practice: Challenges for teaching and learning in schools and universities (pp. 5–21). Oxford: Routledge. Sutherland, L., Howard, S., & Markauskaite, L. (2010) ‘Professional identity creation: Examining the development of beginning preservice teachers' understanding of their owns teachers’, Teaching and Teacher Education , 26(3), pp. 455-465. Tedder, M., Lawy, R. (2013) ‘Learning journeys: student teacher stories of professional formation’, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 37(1), pp. 54-70.
Zoning in on Learning - using the CABES Framework Moira Greene Introduction: The CABES (Clare Adult Basic Education Service) Framework was originally devised to help tutors and learners to identify learning needs and plan learning in the non-formal environment of adult basic education (Greene, 2015). More recently however, the Framework has been applied to other levels of learning, in particular as a support in identifying the ‘learner readiness’ of adults applying for places on higher level courses (QQI Levels 5 and 6).
The Framework’s development was influenced by socio-constructive learning theories, notably the work of Lev Vygotsky. This paper begins with a discussion on four of Vygotsky’s ideas and how they relate to the adult learning context: learning through social interaction, the mediating role of culture, the learner’s relationship to the learning environment, learning and the Zone of Proximal Development. The purpose of this discussion is to put forward the idea that ‘learner readiness’ can only usefully be determined in relation to the expectations of the planned learning environment. The paper then finishes with a discussion on how the CABES Framework might be used to find ways to improve this relationship and so enhance learner engagement.
Learning through social interaction Vygotsky’s socio-constructive theories were concerned with the relationship between learning and development in children. One of his key insights was that ‘the mental functioning of the individual, including higher cognitive processes, originates from within social sources’ (Palinscar, 1998 p. 351). According to Vygotsky, humans are social creatures. Without social interaction humans can ‘never 1
develop within [themselves] any of the attributes and characteristics which have developed as a result of the methodical [historical] evolution of all human kind’ (Vygotsky, 1994, p 352). The individual’s psychological development results from learning through social interaction with others. ‘The social dimension of consciousness is primary in time and in fact. The individual dimension of consciousness is derivative and secondary’ (Vygotsky cited in Palinscar, 1998, p.351).
Recognition of the role of social interaction in learning is widely evident in adult education practice. Learning ‘communities’ are located in multiple social sites (family learning, workplace education, community-based learning, on-line learning etc.) where the focus is on building learning through social activity. Drawing on the learner’s own experience, tutors often organise activities in pairs or small groups and use, for example, case studies, peer-to-peer learning, problem-based learning, role play etc. Learners work together to pose and solve problems, investigate questions, demonstrate skills and share evidence of their learning. Through collaboration with others, sharing and reflecting on life experiences, they are able to construct new meanings. The tutor often adopts a facilitative role providing support where needed through, e.g. constructive questioning, problem posing, summarising key points etc.
The mediating role of culture Vygotsky shows that social and cultural influences on learning and development are evident on several levels (Palinscar, 354). First, he says that humans are set apart from other species by their use of tools (physical and psychological) to interact with the external environment (Palinscar, 1998). In particular, Vygotsky focusses attention on how the child ‘appropriates’ (Leontiv in Palinscar, 1998, p. 353) the ‘symbol systems’ of his/her culture such as ‘language, systems of counting, mnemonic techniques, algebraic symbol systems, works of art, writing schemes, diagrams, maps and
mechanical drawings; all sorts of conventional signs and so on’ (Vygotsky in Palinscar, 1998, p. 353). The child first uses these tools to interact with others in a social role and then gradually internalises them into their own thinking processes, e.g. the development of inner speech (Vygotsky, 1994). Says Vygotsky, ‘effective tool use is fundamental not only because it has help them [learners] relate more effectively to their external environment but also because tool use has important effects upon internal and functional relationships within the human brain’ (Vygotsky in Wang, 2007, p. 153).
Second, there are the accumulated cultural and historical traditions, beliefs and assumptions, behavioural norms, etc. that continue to influence and frame current practice. Third, there is the individual’s ongoing history of social interactions with the environment which influence personal characteristics and cognitive development (Vygotsky 342). Finally, there are the ‘real time’ moments of interaction between the individual and the environment which involve the interplay of all the above factors simultaneously (Palinscar, 1998).
The use of cultural tools, socio-historical influences, and the influence of personal histories are all visible elements within adult education practice. ‘Tools’ that learners may ‘appropriate’ in the context of learning situation include all of Vygotsky’s examples of tool use and more (e.g. social media, calculators, measuring instruments, mindmaps, design tools etc.) At the same institutional policies, resource allocation and tutor preferences influence which tools are accessible or restricted, valued or devalued, retained or discarded.
Socio-cultural influence is also evident in the institutional structures and practices which shape adult education practice, particularly as they impact on practitioner ability to meet learner needs, for example, learning sites (campus, outreach, workplace, on-line), class size and duration, certification 3
requirements, employer driven curriculum, etc. Less visible may be broader socio-cultural influences such as the historical influence of Western thought on the nature of knowledge and what it means to learn. (Meriam and Kim, 2011) Moreover, the culture of adult education itself positions the tutor in a facilitative role while at the same time places the learner in a collaborative role for which he/she may be unprepared. (Lea, 2005). Finally, learners (and tutors) bring into the learning environment life experiences and learning histories which continue to influence and shape their cognitive and emotional development.
The learner’s relationship to the learning environment Vygotsky believed that ‘the role, meaning and influence of the environment’ could only be understood in terms of the child’s relationship to the environment at a given stage of development. Moreover, as the child changes or develops the ‘role, meaning and influence of environmental factors’ also change Vygotsky, 1994, p. 339).
Vygotsky uses the term ‘social situation of development’ to describe a point where the child’s stage of development and factors in the environment combine to present a learning opportunity. He observed that this situation often emerges from the ‘experience of a ‘contradiction between the child’s current capabilities, what the child needs or desires, and the demands and possibilities presented within the socio-cultural environment’ (Chaiklin, 2003, p.6). In the social situation of development, the child is presented with activities which he/she cannot complete independently but can complete with the support of an adult or more experienced peer. As a result of the collaboration new functions may be formed or existing functions may be enriched (Chaiklin, 2003, p.6). However, the child must be able, not only to take advantage of assistance offered, but also to understand its significance. ‘The influence of environment on child development will, along with
other types of influences, also have to be assessed by taking the degree of understanding, awareness and insight of what is going on in the environment into account’ (Vygotsky, 1997, p.343). Without this understanding learning is not achieved. ‘If I am not able to play chess, I will not be able to play a match even if a chess master shows me how. If I know arithmetic, but run into difficulty with the solution of a complex problem, a demonstration will immediately lead to my own resolution of the problem. On the other hand, if I do not know higher mathematics, a demonstration of the resolution of a differential equation will not move my own thought in that direction by a single step. To imitate (learn), there must be some possibility of moving from what I can do to what I cannot’ (Vygotsky in Chaiklin, 2003, p.10).
In adult education, learning opportunities are also manifested through conflicts between an individual’s current capabilities, needs or desires, and ‘the demands and possibilities presented within the socio-cultural environment’ (Chaiklin, 2003, p.6). Many learners describe the impetus for their returning to learning in terms of changes to life circumstances e.g. changes in relationships (divorce, death, parenthood), changes in social practice (mobile phones, social media, email), changes in institutional requirements (health and safety regulations, Driver Theory Test) changes in employment status (loss of job, promotion), changes in location (new culture, new language). However, while the life circumstances may create motive, the right conditions must be in place to facilitate learning. Like Vygotsky says, an adult learner who lacks basic understanding of maths will not be able to absorb, internalise and apply higher concepts needed for an engineering course; a learner with little computer experience will not benefit from an enthusiastic demonstration of the benefits of interacting with Moodle; a learner who lack basic essay writing skills will not be helped by a hand-out with details of assignment topics, word length and due dates. Identifying ‘learning readiness’ (understanding, awareness, insight) in the context of a particular learning goal can be a major challenge. 5
Learning and the Zone of Proximal Development Vygotsky observed that, ‘a well-known and empirically established fact is that learning should be matched in some manner with the child’s developmental level (Vygotsky, 1997, p. 32). However, he argued that educational planning should be informed, not by the child’s ‘actual development’ (what the child can do alone), but by the child’s ‘proximal development’ (what the child can do with assistance). He thought this was best achieved by observing the child in action during structured collaborative activities (e.g. joint problem solving) because they give the child the opportunity to demonstrate not only what he/she is able to do independently, but also what s/he can ‘proximally’ achieve, i.e. complete with assistance (Vygotsky, 1997, p. 33). This proximal level of ‘understanding, awareness, insight’ shown by the child during a collaborative activity gives an indication of mental functions ‘in a process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow’ (Vygotsky, 1997,p.33). These ‘maturing functions’ which enable the child to understand the significance of the support given gradually become fully formed and internalised, thus changing the child’s developmental level and changing the way the child relates to his/her environment (Vygotsky, 1994, p.339). Since partially formed ‘mental functions’ are demonstrable only through collaborative activity (because independently the child would not succeed) Vygotsky called this the child’s Zone of Proximal Development: ‘the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers’ (Vygotsky, 1997, p. 33). One of the problems highlighted by adult education practitioners working at higher levels is that, while learners may have met the necessary entry pre-requisites for a course in terms of qualification levels, they still struggle significantly within the course. Often this is not discovered until quite late in the course. These learners may have a range of problems, e.g. good knowledge but weak academic literacy skills, poor conceptual understanding of mathematics, insufficient study skills to 6
meet course demands. For adult learners, past history may not be an accurate predictor of future performance because past achievements may have been achieved in conditions that are radically different from present circumstances, both in terms of the learner’s personal circumstances and in the environment.
Collaborative interactions as a way to assess ‘learner readiness’ is interesting concept for adult and further education. Through collaborative activities, can learners be helped to establish their Zone of Proximal Development, a space in which they can meaningfully engage with supports to achieve more than their current capabilities? Support in the adult education context could include tutor or peer support, as well as a range of learning tools including on-line sites, books, journals, digital devices, TV, DVDs, maps and other graphic tools etc. The role of structured collaboration activities would provide opportunities to see learners in action in the learning environment. This kind of holistic, collective assessment-in-action might help tutors and learners to identify concerns that might not be made evident through more traditional entry procedures. As well, through showing how they use personal learning resources in an integrated way, learners may demonstrate potential strengths.
The Role of the CABES Framework The CABES Framework (Greene, 2015) was developed to help tutors and learners assess learning needs by exploring and evaluating distinct yet inter-related learner resources in the context of a planned learning goal:
Familiarity with texts, tools and technologies
Using the Framework to focus their discussion, tutors and learners engage in a dialogue to identify ‘learning gaps’ between the learning goal and the learner’s starting point. Finding ways to help learners to build on their resources to meet these gaps then formed the basis of the learning plan. The five learning resources in the Framework were identified through exploration of research into social-constructivist learning theory (e.g. Vygotsky), reflection on emerging theories of literacy as a set of social practices (Barton and Hamilton, 1998; Street, 1994) and the ongoing experience of adult literacy practitioners. Each of these resources can be observed ‘in action’ in any learning environment (formal/informal, on-site, on-line, accredited/unaccredited etc.) In Vygotskian terms, the resources could be said to point to ‘psychological and physical tools’ that the learner uses to interact with and ‘construct’ learning within the context of a learning environment.
The Framework can also be used in higher levels of learning to explore the learner’s relationship with the planned learning environment. Learning environments at this level are typically ‘preconstructed’ within the context of institutional constraints and provider requirements, even before the learner enters the environment. Consequently, it may be assumed that the learner has the necessary learning resources (or psychological and physical tools) to actively participate in that environment. In reality, adult learners are a diverse group and there is considerable potential for mismatch.
The resources named in the Framework can provide a lens through which to examine the planned learning environment. By identifying the ‘tools’ or learning resources that are needed in the context of a planned learning environment, they indicate what to look for in terms of ‘learner readiness’. Where gaps are highlighted consideration could be given to changing environmental conditions to provide a more ‘supportive situation of development’ for those learners’ stage of ‘readiness’. In other words, using the CABES Framework can assist tutors and learners to work collaboratively to find their Zone of Proximal Development.
Background knowledge The learning environment is likely to be pre-constructed with assumptions that learners have a level of core content knowledge in relation to a discipline/subject area and can use this knowledge to engage with new material in a manner appropriate to course expectations. There may also be assumptions that learners understand course expectations and know ‘how things work’ in the academic environment. Finally, there is the presumption that learners and practitioners share an understanding of what knowledge is and what it means to learn.
However, some learners will not have progressed through traditional learning paths and so, despite appearing to have the requisite knowledge needed to progress, may have significant gaps in their learning. Some learners may have background knowledge acquired through experience (e.g. in the workplace), but don’t see where experiential learning is of value in formal learning contexts. Learners re-entering education may not be familiar with course expectations and established practices. Information provided at ‘orientation’ months earlier may have been overwhelming and so not retained. Learners may also equate knowledge with knowing ‘facts’ and ‘procedures’ and so not engage with materials in a way that promotes conceptual understanding.
Familiarity with texts, tools, technologies (and other learning resources) The learning environment may be pre-constructed with expectations that learners will be comfortable interacting with a variety of resources (books, journal articles, film, Internet sources, on-line sites, maps, digital devices, etc.) in a manner appropriate to the module or course requirements. It may also be assumed that learners will be able to independently access, evaluate and use additional resources.
However, learners may not be familiar with the resources they are expected to use or, though somewhat familiar, they may need to learn to use these resources in new contexts. For example, though competent using social media learners may have difficulty using institutional websites, technologies for on-line learning or carrying out research. Regarding texts, learners unfamiliar with text structure and patterns of organisation may find navigation difficult. Drawing on previous assumptions, they may focus on learning â€˜the textâ€™ (by memorising) rather than trying to understand the meaning of and evaluate the ideas text by considering other sources and their own experience. (Saljo, 1988) Moreover, both on-line and printed texts introduced at higher levels of learning may make assumptions about the extent of a readerâ€™s life experiences or the depth of their knowledge. Finally, learners may lack experience in knowing how to evaluate the relevance and validity of resources (purpose, audience, structure and organisation, currency, authority etc.).
Language experience In all learning environments learners are be expected to use language practices (spoken, written, visual, gestural) as the core medium within which to interact in the learning environment. Language
practices include all kinds of symbolic communication used within the context of a particular discipline. It may be assumed that learners possess certain ‘academic literacies’, i.e. technical language, academic texts and writing skills of the subject or discipline (Lea and Street, 2000).
However, research has noted a number of difficulties that students have with academic literacies. For example, researchers pointed to ‘profound gaps’ between students’ and tutors’ ‘understandings of requirements for written assignments’ and also cited differences in tutor expectations for written work not only across disciplines (e.g. history and science) but between tutors in the same department. (Lea, 2005).
Some learners, despite years of practical experience in the workplace, may be unfamiliar with course terminology and so find it difficult to ask questions, clarify meaning, contribute to discussion. They may have knowledge, but lack the language skills to make their ‘thinking and learning visible’. (Ritchart et al, 2011) Learners may be confident in one language medium (spoken, written, visual), but struggle to express themselves in another. Finally, learners may have significant gaps in the skills needed to meet the ‘embedded expectations’ for using English/Maths in a subject/discipline not traditionally seen as an academic subject.
Social experience On-line learning communities as well as the traditional classroom have expectations of social engagement in learning (Wright, 2015; Mason, 2011). There is often the assumption that learners enter the classroom or on-line environment ready and eager to participate in a variety of group learning activities, and that moreover, they understand the significance of social interaction and the
role it plays in learning. It may also be assumed that, because they are adults, learners possess the social skills needed to interact comfortably within the context of the learning environment (group discussion, coffee breaks, small group work, role play etc.).
However, some learners may be expecting to take a more â€˜passive roleâ€™ in the learning, with the tutor acting as the expert. Other learners may have had some negative experiences in group work, or they may feel overwhelmed by the expectations of learning with and through others. They may also have some cultural unease about showing their (as yet incomplete) learning to others. (Meriam and Kim, 2011). Other learners may be reluctant to participate in collaborative learning activities because they donâ€™t understand their purpose. Finally, some learners need help to build social relationships and develop a sense of belonging within the group.
Self Awareness The environment may assume that learners have a strong sense of learner identity and personal agency. It may be assumed that they will to take responsibility for manage and direct their own learning. Learners may be expected to have cognitive awareness of learning strategies and approaches to problem solving, their personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as emotional insight, knowing what motivates them, recognising the positive and negative impact of emotions on learning.
However, some learners may underestimate the demands of a course and so struggle to organise their learning and manage their time. Research with college students showed very little cognitive awareness such as accuracy of self-knowledge about their strengths and weaknesses (Pintrich,
2002). They may also lack insight into the role emotions play in learning. Some learners lack selfconfidence, self-belief and self-efficacy and so have little sense of ‘learner agency’ (Zepke and Leach, 2010). Learner concentration, memory, willingness to take risks etc. can be affected by anxiety and negative self-image and so continue a pattern of negative reinforcement Also, learners changing from an environment with a high level of support (e.g. in a local adult education centre) to a more detached environment (e.g. large third level institution) may become more vulnerable to failure, partly because their expectations of support are not met, but also because they have not yet developed the skills needed for learner autonomy (Yorke, 2003).
Conclusion The goal of using the CABES Framework is to help reconcile learners to their learning environment in a way that enhances learner engagement. According to Vygotsky, when the learning environment provides a genuine ‘social situation of development’ the interaction and activities that take place will engage the learner’s ‘maturing functions,’ and activate learning potential (Vygotsky, 1997). ‘Properly organised learning results in mental development and sets in motion a variety of developmental processes that would be impossible apart from learning.’ (Vygotsky, 1997, p.35)
In the adult learning experience, the learner’s Zone of Proximal Development is activated when learners can use their understanding, insight and awareness to fully engage with the learning environment. They can use their ‘learning resources’ to interact with challenging learning situations, knowing that support is available when needed. This helps to build learner confidence and willingness to ‘take risks’. As a result learners develop a greater belief in themselves as learners. Moreover, with each successful intervention the learner’s relationship with the learning environment is changed and a new Zone of Proximal Development is created, further increasing
learning potential and the possibilities for participation (Wells, 1999). In adult education parlance, it might be said that in an environment where the learner’s ZPD is supported, the learning can be truly ‘transformative’.
References Barton, D. & Hamilton, M. (1998) Local literacies: reading and writing in one community. London: Routledge. Chaiklin, S. (2003) ‘The zone of proximal development in Vygotsky’s analysis of learning and instruction’ in Kozulin, A., Gindis, B., Ageyev, V., Miller, S. Vygotsky’s educational theory and practice in cultural context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Greene, M. (2015) The CABES (Clare Adult Basic Education Service) framework as a tool for teaching and learning’ in Mark, R. (ed.) The Adult Learner 2015. Dublin: AONTAS. Lea, M. R. (2005) ‘Communities of practice’ in higher education: useful heuristic or educational model? in Barton, D. and Tusting, K. Beyond Communities of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lea, M. R. and Street, B. V. (2000) ‘Student writing and staff feedback in higher education: an academic literacies approach’ in Lea, M.R. and Stierer, B. (eds) Student Writing in Higher Education. Buckingham: Open University Press. Mason, R. (2011) ‘Student Engagement with, and Participation in, an e-Forum’ in Educational Technology and Society, 14 (2). Available at: http://www.ifets.info/journals/14_2/22.pdf Merriam, S. and Kim, Y.S. (2011) ‘Non-Western Perspectives on Learning and Knowing’ in Merriam, S. and Grace, A. The Jossey-Bass Reader on Contemporary Issues in Adult Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 14
Palinscar, A.S. (1998) ‘Social Constructivist Perspectives on Teaching and Learning in Annual Review of Psychology, University of Michigan. Available at: https://gsueds2007.pbworks.com/f/Palinscar1998.pdf Pintrich, P. (2002) ‘The Role of Metacognitive Knowledge in Learning, Teaching, and Assessing’ in Theory into Practice, Vol. 41, Number 4 Ohio: Ohio State University. Ritchhart, R., Church M., Morrison, K. (2011) Making Thinking Visible. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass. Saljo, R. (1988) The Written Word: Studies in Literate Thought and Action. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. Street, B. (1994) Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Literacy in Maybin, J. (ed.) Language and Literacy in Social Practice. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters, 139-150. Vygotsky, L. (1997) ‘Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes’, pp.29-36, reprinted in Gauvain, M. and Cole, M. Readings on the Development of Children. New York: Freeman. Vygotsky, L. (1994). The Problem of the Environment, pp. 338-354, in Van der Veer, R and Valsiner, J. The Vygotsky Reader Oxford: Blackwell. Wang, L. (2007) Sociocultural Learning Theories and Information Literacy Teaching Activities in Higher Education in Reference and User Services Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 149-158. Available at: https://journals.ala.org/rusq/article/view/3775 Wells, G. (1999) Dialogic inquiry: Towards a sociocultural practice and theory of education. NY: Cambridge University Press. Wright, P. (2015) ‘Comparing E-tivities, E-moderation and the five stage model to the community of inquiry model for online learning design’ in The Online Journal of Distance Education and e-Learning. Available at: http://www.tojdel.net/pdf/v03i02/v03i02-02.pdf
Yorke, M. (2003) ‘Formative assessment in higher education: Move towards theory and the enhancement of pedagogic practice’ in Higher Education’ 45: 477-501 The Netherlands: Kluwer. Zepke, N. and Leach, L. (2010) ‘Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action’ in Active Learning in higher education. Sage Publications. Available at: http://www.wnmu.edu/facdev/files/active_learning_in_higher_ed.pdf
Zoning in on Learning Using the CABES Framework
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) "The distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers." (Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 86).
ZPD in Adult Learning • Learner centred - environment designed to support learners. • Active participation - learners use what they know and can do to interact with others to meet learning challenges.
• Support builds learner confidence & willingness to ‘take risks’. • Increases learner resources and enhances learner identity. ‘Learning in the ZPD involves all aspects of the learner-acting, thinking, and feeling; it not only changes the possibilities for participation but also transforms the learner’s identity.’ Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic inquiry: Towards a sociocultural practice and theory of education. NY: Cambridge University Press, p. 31.
The ZPD changes with learner growth and experience.
CABES Framework as a Design Tool In designing a supportive learning environment that is within the learner’s ZPD, it is necessary to know where learners are starting out from and what they need to complete their journey. CABES Framework focuses dialogue with learners around five key factors that impact on learning: • Background knowledge • Familiarity with Resources • Language Practice • Social Experience • Self Awareness
Background knowledge The learning environment may be preconstructed with expectations that learners: • have core content knowledge and language practices drawn from previous courses and experience; • share some common understandings of what knowledge is and what it means to learn; • generally know how things work in this ‘community of practice’, e.g. higher learning.
How could the learning environment be adjusted for learners who: • have gaps in core content knowledge and skills; • need help to activate background knowledge - ‘know what they know’ and its value to learning; • have misconceptions in that need to be identified and addressed; • need to broaden their conceptions of what knowledge is and what it means to learn; • see themselves as passive recipients of tutor expertise and are so need help to become active learners; • are unfamiliar with the academic community and wellestablished practices.
Familiarity with texts, tools and technologies The learning environment may be pre-constructed with expectations that learners: â€˘ are familiar with a variety of learning resources and are able to interact with these resources in a way appropriate to the module or course requirements; â€˘ can independently access, evaluate and use additional resources as needed to meet additional module requirements.
How could the learning environment be adjusted for learners who: • need to learn to use resources in new ways; • need help to navigate unfamiliar texts; • need to move away from ‘learning the text’ to understanding the meaning of the text; • need to extend reading focus beyond the content within the text to how content is connected to ideas and experiences outside the text; • need guidance in how to identify, find and evaluate accessible, relevant and reliable information sources.
Language experience Learning environments may be pre-constructed with expectations that learners will be able to: • use language as the core medium with which to interact including spoken, written and visual, formal and informal language practices; • use language to make their thinking and learning ‘visible’.
How could the learning environment be adjusted for learners who: • are unfamiliar with established language practices in the general learning environment or within a particular discipline; • may be confident and capable in one medium but struggle to express themselves in another. • may have knowledge of a discipline, but not have the language skills needed to make their thinking and learning visible; • may be inadequately equipped for embedded expectations for English/Maths in a particular subject/discipline.
Social experience Learning environments may be pre-constructed with expectations that learners will be able to: • use a variety of social skills to interact within the learning environment on a number of levels; • actively participate in group learning activities with differing requirements for social interaction; • make useful connections between learning and ‘real world’ contexts.
How could the learning environment be adjusted for learners who: • need support structures to help build social relationships; • need to be ‘socialised’ into the active learning environment; • have had prior negative experiences in group work; • are unfamiliar with specific group activities, their intended purpose and expected interaction; • need help making connections between learning activities and real world applications.
Self awareness The learning environment may be preconstructed with expectations that learners will: â€˘ know what it means to learn and can apply effective strategies to meet learning goals; â€˘ have the personal resources to take responsibility for their learning.
How could the learning environment be adjusted for learners who: • would benefit from explicit discussion on, labelling and modelling of learning strategies; • need help to understand individual strengths and weaknesses and choose strategies that will meet the requirements of a learning situation; • need to work on building self-confidence, selfbelief and self-efficacy.
Suggestions • Analyse own practice to identify potential difficulties; • Use CABES Framework to open up a dialogue with learners; • Check for understanding in a concrete way; • Embed ‘informative’ assessment and feedback loops; • Promote a collaborative approach to learning support; • Observe learners – look for risk factors; • Structure group work to promote ‘learner agency’ and ‘sense of belonging’; • Use Universal Design approaches – feed forward.
For more information: Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org (086) 349 7978 The CABES (Clare Adult Basic Education Service) Framework as a Tool for Teaching and Learning, The Adult Learner Journal, 2015, Dublin: AONTAS. Article focuses on the development of the Framework for work in adult literacy available on: http://www.aontas.com/pubsandlinks/publications/theadult-learner-journal-2015/
Cultivating pedagogic agency for the practice of RPL through an exploration of the values and beliefs of RPL assessors Phil O’Leary and Ann Ledwith Abstract Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), allows for all forms of learning to be identified and given value in the context of a destination award within the formal learning system. RPL is increasingly significant for lifelong learning provision in higher education. Recent European policy recommendations have called for higher education institutions to have policies and procedures in place for RPL by 2018. The resulting impetus has increased the focus on developing and delivering RPL provision. This research queries the influence of some of the factors surrounding the cultural acceptance of RPL by academic assessors. Some of the literature reports on a low take up of RPL and queries its effectiveness in broadening participation through the formal recognition of non-formal and informal learning. The literature also reports on the idea of pedagogic agency (Cooper & Harris, 2013), for RPL practice as supported by individual champions of RPL within institutions and contrasts this with the ‘gatekeeper effect’ which in effect acts to discourage RPL applicants and hence influence the cultural acceptance of RPL practice across an institution. This research explores aspects of Cooper and Harris’s notion of pedagogic agency with a view to determining if there are common values and beliefs underpinning an assessor’s attitude towards RPL. Thirty-one assessors were interviewed about their values and beliefs around the assessment of RPL material in a cross sectional study within a third level college in Ireland. Thematic analysis was supported through the creation of a conceptual framework drawing on the work of Bernstein (2000), including the classification and framing of knowledge, and the field of recontextualisation. Analysis resulted in two major themes. The first presents the viewpoints of RPL assessors as primarily defending and maintaining the standards of the formal learning system. However the second theme ‘balancing,’ diverges from this and provides further understanding as to positions taken with the assessment of RPL cases. This second theme lends support to Bernstein’s notion of ‘prospective pedagogic identity’ and the academic assessor’s readiness to engage with novel practices such as RPL.
Introduction Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), is a significant aspect of lifelong learning provision in higher education, allowing for all forms of learning relevant to a particular destination award be identified and given value. Policies around lifelong learning envisage a formal learning system with the capacity to value all relevant prior learning while providing accessible, relevant educational opportunities, across a lifetime. The past fifteen years have seen significant restructuring and updating of European frameworks and policies within which lifelong learning and RPL have been a key component (J. Harris, 2011). The most recent of these is the EU recommendation of the 20th December 2012 calling for all higher education institutions to have arrangements for RPL in place by 2018 (Council of the European Union, 2012). This has resulted in an increased impetus to finalise policies and procedures for RPL across higher education. RPL can be complex to provide for (Cooper & Harris, 2013). The unique nature of an individualâ€™s pathway and the many and varied contexts wherein one may accumulate learning can present a challenge for the individual to identify and the formal learning system to accommodate. Webb et al., believe that there is much work to be done to transform higher education into an arena where cultural difference and diversity are both integrated and catered for as a matter of course (Webb, Holford, Jarvis, Milana, & Waller, 2014). RPL is commonly perceived as difficult to arrange for, and the literature reports that RPL is accessed less by those marginalised in society, the very individuals that it is intended to serve (Hamer, 2011; J. Harris, Brier, & Wihak, 2011; Hewson, 2008). In practice approaches for RPL provision are many and varied depending on the local context within a given school or faculty (Starr-Glass, 2012; Werquin, 2010). Apart from policy and procedures, additional factors such as institutional support are key to the ready acceptance of RPL practice amongst staff (Leiste & Jensen, 2011). This research explores the common values and beliefs of academic assessors, those individuals who are tasked with delivery and assessment of modules within third level provision, to ascertain which are significant in terms of cultivating pedagogic agency for the provision of RPL. Thirty one interviews were carried out with academic staff from a diverse range of backgrounds within one Institute of Technology setting. The literature review introduces the work of Bernstein (Bernstein, 2000) which is used to provide a conceptual framework for the analysis of data. This is followed with an exploration of the assessment of RPL material and the notion of pedagogic agency for RPL (Cooper & Harris, 2013). Finally the review explores the ideas of affective domain and professional identity.
Literature review Bernstein’s theories of classification and framing of knowledge and the related notions of power and control provide a lens with which to examine forms of knowledge and epistemological access for RPL candidates (Bernstein, 2000). RPL represents a unique pathway where knowledge from non-formal and informal domains is identified and selected for validation purposes, and is subjected to the pedagogic code and rules that mediate Bernstein’s pedagogic device for assessment purposes. Inherent within RPL is the movement of knowledge from its site of production, its selection and presentation for evaluation purposes. The academic assessor is a key stakeholder in terms of power and control of knowledge.
Pedagogic device Bernstein provides the concept of the pedagogic device as a way of conceptualising how access to knowledge is controlled in society. Within the pedagogic device are three rules all hierarchically related; distributive rules determine the knowledge that is produced; recontextualising rules relay who has access to these different kinds of knowledge and reproduction rules relate to the teaching and assessment of this knowledge. Associated with these rules are the fields of production, recontextualisation and reproduction (Bernstein, 2000). In providing the concept of the pedagogic device, Bernstein examines the contexts in which knowledge is produced and then transformed into curricula through recontextualisation and its reproduction through teaching and assessment practices. For RPL provision, knowledge from non formal and informal sites of production must be selected within the field of recontextualisation and undergo a process where it is reconfigured into a form suitable for evaluation. It is here that the academic assessor must evaluate the RPL candidates case. This paper argues that the values and beliefs of the academic assessor are of key significance in the assessment of non formal and informal learning and that Bernstein’s concepts provide a useful support to interpretation of data.
Horizontal and vertical discourse Along with the pedagogic device, Bernstein explores the ‘horizontal discourse’ of everyday life and contrast this with the ‘vertical discourse’ of the formal learning system. He describes two types of vertical discourse, the pure sciences which present a knowledge structure that is hierarchical, abstract, and built on concepts. The second vertical discourse is that of the social sciences which has a more horizontal knowledge structure. This second discourse is typified by the accumulation of
‘specialised languages’ and theories with which to problematize (Bernstein, 2000). Such concepts provide a useful framework with which to support this research. Along with this is the idea of pedagogic agency which may operate when knowledge is moved from the site of production, such as the workplace or community to be reformulated as curriculum.
Classification of knowledge domains Another of Bernstein’s concepts, classification relates to the strength, or weakness of the borders between different forms of knowledge or disciplines, and the relationship between practical knowledge and theory. According to Bernstein, strongly classified domains, such as the pure sciences, are strongly insulated and rarely allow the importation of knowledge from other domains. Alternatively, Bernstein argues the social sciences have a weaker classification, are less insulated and more permeable to the importation of ideas or discourse from everyday life. This aspect may have implications for the assessors interviewed for this research who originate across a broad mix of disciplines, the sciences, engineering, humanities and the arts. Framing is another concept within Bernstein’s work which relates to control of the selection, sequencing, pacing and assessment of learning.
Relationship between practical and theoretical knowledge The relationship between practical and theoretical knowledge is another of Bernstein’s interests and significant within RPL. The nature of the knowledge being assessed for RPL purposes is significant, and whether the set of learning outcomes has an applied nature that relate to the world of work, or are more theoretical. Bernstein presents the ideas of ‘singulars’ as practitioners within the sciences and contrasts this with ‘regions’ to represent relational or professional knowledge that is drawn from the workplace.
Totally pedagogised society Bernstein (2000), explores how society is changing and provides the concept of the totally pedagogised society, wherein populations are encouraged to access learning opportunities over a lifetime for a variety of purposes. This concept has resonances with RPL provision in that those candidates accessing RPL are more likely to have previously availed of continuing professional development or retraining. The third level sector is actively encouraged to offer programmes relevant to the emerging needs of the marketplace (Department of Education & Skills, 2011). Academic assessors as employees of third level institutions observe first-hand the positioning of the formal learning system in response to market led demands for highly skilled graduates. Identities of assessors are more likely to reflect the dynamics of the marketplace within weakly insulated, regionalised domains.
Such theoretical constructs provide a framework to support the analysis of the values and beliefs of academic assessors around RPL assessment work.
Assessment of RPL cases Every assessment of RPL material is unique to the individual and assessor(s) involved however all will focus on the retrospective story of the candidate and their ability to capture this for assessment purposes while evaluating their prospective capacity, or readiness to take on the commitment of higher education (Shalem & Steinberg, 2006). While bound by the regulatory frameworks and quality systems of the formal learning system, the assessor must open up the knowledge claim of each RPL case in a transparent, valid and fair way. As with examination materials RPL cases must comply with standard examinations protocol and be accessible to external examination and admissions boards. RPL cases comprising non-formal and informal learning can be difficult to assess. There may be questions around the evidence, reading the portfolio can involve a level of interpretation which is not expected with regular examination material (Hewson, 2008). Assessors commonly hesitate when reading or assessing RPL material, and will only approve the case when they achieve a level of conviction as to the validity therein. Mitchell and Gronold (2009) note the tension between “compliance and creativity,” which has also been noted elsewhere (De Graaf, 2013; Hamer, 2012; Peters, 2005; Starr-Glass, 2012). This tension is understandable given the origins of non-formal and informal learning and is to be welcomed according to Starr-Glass (2012). However it is likely that the values and beliefs held by the assessor will inherently impact on the outcome for the candidate, either positively or negatively (Trowler, 1998). Starr-Glass sees merit in stepping outside of the mind set of disciplinary based knowledge when assessing RPL calling for “openness, collaboration and shared consideration” when evaluating cases, highlighting the critical importance of being able to ‘balance’ between the standards of the formal learning system while providing acknowledgement where merited for experiential learning (StarrGlass, 2012, p. 12). This ability to step between the two domains of learning, both formal and experiential is critical when assessing RPL cases. Later, Starr Glass argues for staff timetable allowances and the opportunity for immersion in portfolio creation and assessment so as to experience other ways of knowing (Starr-Glass, 2012). This allowance would foreground a robust community of practice for RPL and benefit the broader context of assessment practices within the formal learning community.
Hewson (2008), investigated the attitudes of 100 Australian teachers towards RPL. She found the reticence to engage with RPL was commonly expressed in terms of pedagogical reasons as opposed to operational barriers. Hewson reported concerns with consistency in making judgements and confusion around evidence supporting the claim. Hewson calls for a change in culture where other stakeholders have an input to support assessment of RPL (Hewson, 2008). De Graafâ€™s research highlights the ability of assessors when interpreting particular situational knowledge in making a judgement. She observes that commonly both candidate and assessor share a particular mindset, and language, based on tacit or situational knowledge which is not available to others outside of the academic department (De Graaf, 2013). This common language is particular to both the discipline and practice domain and implies a set of shared values and standards around both professional practice and the academic discipline itself.
The affective domain and professional identity The social and cultural environment within which the assessor operates will influence how they approach assessment. The reliability and validity of the assessment must be acceptable to engender trust in the methods used (Andersson, 2006). As RPL is viewed as a non-standard assessment approach by many assessors, their attitude is of interest (J. Harris, 2000; Hewson, 2008). According to Piaget (1954), and Vygotsky (1986), the assessorâ€™s viewpoint is formed through their own constructions and experiences, each building unique understandings based on their pathways through life and reflections. Social constructivist principles also suggest that assessor and candidate can learn from each other, neither is expert in a process where negotiation is part of a two way dialogue. These principles have implications for the assessment of RPL material. The affective domain provides a framework for feelings, values, attitudes and emotions around learning (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1973). The affective domain supports the assessorâ€™s philosophy, their interactions and approaches in motivating students (Birbeck & Andre, 2009). Professional identity is tied to the affective domain, how an assessor approaches the task of portfolio assessment is linked to their values and beliefs. Baxter (2012), queried why assessors are open to certain aspects of practice or resist others. Baxter explored the role of resistance discourse within professional identity formation which can occur when new initiatives are imposed by management (Baxter, 2012). Baxter maintains assessors selfdetermine to what extent they adopt or take on new practices, seamlessly recognising and acknowledging policy while operating comfortably within their own ethical and professional
framework (Baxter, 2012). This would suggest assessors own professional identity is strongly bound to their opinions around aspects of their practice including assessment. Whether they are open or not to RPL is tied to their professional identity, their values and beliefs, in supporting or resisting RPL. The self-reflection process is valuable for assessors to undergo according to Kawalilak and Wihak (2013), who see merit in assessors creating their own portfolios arguing that the act of exploring and identifying ones own tacit knowledge will illuminate portfolio preparation from a fresh perspective. They believe that members of an admissions board should have previously undergone such selfreflection, in order to be qualified to assess RPL candidates. Such a step may better equip assessors with the skills to see key elements within the application which may otherwise go unseen or remain unappreciated, as stated; “to embark on this journey as educators and assessors takes courage and a surrendering of sorts, of tightly held beliefs, biases and assumptions” (p. 179, Kawalilak & Wihak, 2013). Kawalilak and Wihak call for curricula and programme outcomes to be written with RPL in mind, to allow for the unexpected so that complex knowledge can be acknowledged (Kawalilak & Wihak, 2013).
Pedagogic agency, nurturing a culture of support Both Ralphs (2009) and Ismail (2014), challenge the formal learning system to value voices from outside of academia, including those of the workplace and community and to value alternative ways of knowing. Cooper and Harris (2013) find that while discipline can have a bearing on the feasibility of RPL, more often it is the influence of individual academics and their own personal disposition which has a significant impact on how RPL is adopted and normalised across the faculty. Cooper and Harris (2013) maintain that pedagogic agency and the actions of individual academics who are committed to broadening participation make a distinctive contribution to its cultural acceptance. These ‘champions’ create appropriate pathways through innovative pedagogic approaches in order to facilitate entry for the RPL candidate. They further emphasise the importance of local arrangements particular to a department or faculty wherein RPL is either encouraged to take place or not (Cooper & Harris, 2013).
Hamer (2011), believes the uncertainties experienced by assessors of RPL stem from several sources. Hamer’s insightful analysis critiques the RPL literature on three levels, first the lack of instruments for streamlining RPL; from a pedagogical perspective, she notes a lack of alternative assessment methodologies for non-standard learners and epistemologically the literature questions the extent to which alternative knowledge can be transferred unproblematically to higher education. Such complexities explain why many academics feel ill prepared to assess experiential learning. Hamer queries how well equipped assessors are in practice to appreciate and evaluate non formal and informal learning (Hamer, 2011). Hamer acknowledges the work of Hegel who claims that we form and reform our identities as a result of the acknowledgement and acceptance others (Hegel, 2007). Hence assessment of RPL cases has at their core an ontological purpose. Hamer’s framework helps illuminate those values and beliefs that embody the process of recognition having a reciprocal, two way process of mutual engagement as a core aspect of the journey. (Hamer, 2010, 2011, 2012).
Summary To summarise, this study of the values and beliefs of assessors is to see which are significant to support delivery and nurture pedagogic agency for RPL. The literature on RPL reports on the many and varied forms which practice takes, which can lend to uncertainty on the part of the assessor. While the many macro-policy initiatives have resulted in the formal learning system putting RPL firmly on the lifelong learning agenda, the literature reports that commonly it is the more tenuous aspects around the assessment of non-formal and informal learning such as uncertainty on the part of the assessor that can have a greater influence as to the acceptance of RPL or not as a practice within an institution. At the level of the individual, how an assessor approaches any assessment task is founded on their educational ideology. Their values and beliefs around their role as assessor and the act of assessment is closely tied to their own professional identity. As such these values and beliefs may act to nurture or block any assessment approach which is considered non-standard. The literature reports that RPL can be considered as a ‘bolted-on’ assessment approach within higher education and may provide challenges for the assessor. This review considered the research of Bernstein’s classification and framing, Cooper and Harris around pedagogic agency for RPL and that of Hamer in providing a framework to support mutual recognition. These research pieces have helped to frame this investigation which aims to make visible the values and beliefs of assessors in order to nurture pedagogic agency around RPL practice.
Methodology Research design The research methodology has taken account of the ontological and epistemological considerations around the nature of the research question: ‘What are the values and beliefs of academic assessors around RPL and which might support pedagogic agency for RPL?’ The exploration of the commonly held values and beliefs of academic assessors of RPL material may lend insight about which are significant in support of pedagogic agency for RPL. This work is building on the research of Cooper and Harris (2013), who argue the significance of individual champions of RPL and their actions which subsequently lend a culture of support for its practice. Taking a constructionist ontological position this research is influenced by the nature of ‘becoming’ in terms of a changing perception of reality which is formed and reformed to reflect socially constructed understandings of reality within the world (Bryman, 2012; Hay, 2007). The values and beliefs of RPL assessors are intrinsically linked to their sense of being and their professional identity and so are a core concern within the research design. The analytical framework was set out according to Bryman (2012), which allowed for pilot testing of interview questions, review and amendment. Definitions were provided with the research questions to aid understanding and were crafted to extract suitable data. The anti-positivist stance taken for the research design allowed for an exploration of the realities as experienced by the RPL assessor. The research was carried out from the perspective of the researcher as working from within a system. This stance acknowledges Heidegger’s concept of ‘being-in-the-world’ wherein the realities of this world contribute to our understanding of it, and in being part of it ones perspective is not easily separated from it (Heidegger, 1996). The conceptual framework supporting analysis of the data is drawn from Bernstein’s (2000) work on classification and framing of knowledge and the concept of the pedagogic device, within which the field of recontextualisation is of key significance. The research of Cooper and Harris (2013), investigating knowledge structure and its impact on the feasibility of RPL is also a key influence.
A cross-sectional research design employed random stratified sampling to select thirty-one academic assessors from as diverse a range of disciplines as possible within a third level institution of technology in Ireland.
Pilot research The research questions were piloted with two assessors prior to the interviews, in order to ascertain if these questions were crafted appropriately.
Setting and participants Ireland operates a binary higher education system with universities and institutes of technology operating in parallel while maintaining distinctly different provision. The universities are larger entities, with more students and research activity funding. Universities deliver undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from level 7, to 10. The institutes of technology deliver more applied programmes and operate a â€˜ladder systemâ€™, allowing for entry and exit opportunities at level 6 and 7 along with level 8 to 10. Institutes of Technology have a larger proportion of mature students and are significantly focused in terms of regional engagement with both community and industry. This research is located within an institute of technology setting and the participants, all academic assessors are responsible for module delivery across a variety of programmes. It can be argued that an Institute of Technology setting offering programmes which are closer to the point of application may encourage greater affordances for RPL. The faculties involved and numbers of assessors are outlined in Table 1.
Table 1: Academic discipline of participants Faculty
Number of participants
Art and Design Business and Humanities Maritime Science and Engineering
2 10 4 15
Semi structured interviews allowed for the collection of rich data according to the opinions of the individual academic around values and beliefs relating to RPL provision. In terms of research design
‘what’ questions are followed with ‘why’ questions to allow for elaboration in conversation. Of the 31 interviews held, 28 were completed face-to-face and three were held over the phone (assessors located at remote locations). Ethical guidelines were strictly followed. For each of the interviews assessors were provided with the broad context of the work before commencement with the actual interview questions. The questions are presented in Table 2.
Table 2: Interview questions Question 1
In considering RPL what do you think are important values to have?
Why do you say this?
What beliefs do you hold about RPL?
Why are these beliefs important?
Note: 1. 2.
A value is that which is held as important and provides a framework as to how we live, think or act (Turner, 2004). Beliefs are ‘understandings, premises, or propositions about the world that are felt to be true’ (Richardson, 1996, p. 196).
Data collection was structured around each question. Each assessor was numbered A1 to A31 to protect anonymity.
Analysis of data Each interview was fully transcribed and returned for participant approval before analysis commenced. NVivo software was used to support coding and analysis. Bernstein’s theories of classification and framing were employed to support extraction of transcribed data around the values and beliefs of assessors. Key concepts include the strength or weakness of boundaries between disciplines, the proximity or distance of the RPL case to the site of practice, the notion of pedagogic agency and the concept of the totally pedagogised society (Bernstein, 2000). In terms of the strength and weakness of boundaries, the 15 academic assessors interviewed within the science and engineering faculties were noted as strongly classified, highly insulated fields. These fields relate to traditional professions with strong identities, having foundations built on stable
bodies of knowledge. The values and beliefs of the assessors within the maritime faculty also represent a strongly classified, strongly insulated realm with strong professional identity, however the programmes delivered here are closely aligned to the point of application. The 10 business and humanities assessors and the two from art and design were categorised as weakly classified fields with lower boundary maintenance. These fields have less clear foundational principles and greater proximity to the point of application. It is likely that within weakly classified fields students with real world experience are highly valued in the classroom and so the values and beliefs of academic assessors within these fields may reflect accordingly. Bernstein’s concept of the totally pedagogised society also influenced analysis. The idea of ‘prospective pedagogic identities’ relays how identity is reformed to deal with change. The research of Cooper and Harris (2013), argues that curricula within professional programmes are taken from two forms of knowledge, conceptual and everyday, and that the proportion of each will vary depending on the discipline and the ethos behind it. Therefore what counts as relevant knowledge will in part be determined by the site of the RPL assessment and also the educational ideology of the assessor, their values and beliefs will inform their choice.
Findings Initial findings were guided by Bernstein’s classification and framing and the relative insulation between disciplines. Initial analysis investigated the values and beliefs of each of the assessors within the following faculties:
Art & design
Business & humanities
Science & engineering
Due to space restrictions, this round of analysis is not presented, however no particular pattern emerged other than within science & engineering and maritime the dominant value was ‘upholding the standards’, this was not apparent within the other two faculties. Subsequently it was decided to present the main findings in terms of the most dominant codes across the faculties (Table 3). Codes are presented along with frequencies of occurrence.
Table 3. Dominant codes of 31 academic assessors on transcription of interview data Open coding of 31 transcripts Frequency
Upholding standards of awards
Maintaining the standards
No ego in way, non-judgemental
Ability to perform in the world of work
Give people a chance
Responsibility of making the right call
Providing alternative pathways to education
Value of learning gained non formally or
Trust in the process
RPL is legitimate
Value of lifelong learning
Framework and standards
Respect for the candidate and what they know
Table 3 presents the main findings after transcription of interview data with 31 academic assessors. Approximately half of the data illustrates the mind-set of assessors as defending and maintaining the standards of the formal learning system. This is to be expected. However, the other half of the data presents another viewpoint, that of balancing between acknowledging the RPL candidates learning and maintaining the standards. This second theme â€˜balancing,â€™ is significant in the context of Bernsteinâ€™s notion of future pedagogic identities. These two sets of data are collated and presented in table 4 and represent the two major themes which will be discussed.
Table 4. Theme 1 Supporting and maintaining the standards Frequency 17 16 15 13 13 12 12 12 9 9
Coding Procedure protocol Maintaining the standards Maintains standards Upholding standards of awards Trust in the process Various reflections of RPL assessors Protocol or procedures in place Contact point or resources No ego in the way, non judgemental Framework and standards N=31
Table 5. Theme 2 Balancing between acknowledgment and maintaining the standards Frequency 14 13 13 13 11 10 9 9 9 9
Coding Advice Acknowledgement of learning Equal access Providing alternative pathways into education Fair Cultural acceptance Fairness of objective Value of learning gained non formally or informally Value of lifelong learning RPL is legitimate N=31
These two themes provide insight as to the broad stance taken by academic assessors around the assessment of RPL material.
Discussion Theme 1 Supporting and maintaining the standards Society expects the standards delivered by the formal learning system to be upheld and maintained by appropriate systems to ensure a supply of graduates with the technical and general capabilities required for successful living (Massaro, 2010). While the primary role of an academic is to deliver
and assess units of learning in a classroom based environment, RPL is increasingly coming to the fore. The findings show that the main concern of assessors is both supporting and maintaining the standards of the formal system on a day-to-day basis, including assessing RPL cases. This responsibility is keenly felt across the population of assessors who are careful with assessment of RPL cases and committed to maintaining the integrity of the standards of the formal learning system. Assessors were keen to defend the value of a third level education; A8
“Again a third level education, most people would love to have it. A lot of people cannot have it, you know it costs a lot of money, so it is an honour and a privilege to have a qualification, and not to be taking it for granted really by people who say, ‘let’s find a shortcut’”.
Assessors consider RPL as a fair and equitable aspect of higher education, complimenting regular provision while allowing for acknowledgement of other forms of learning. Assessors are aware of the highly mobile environments and changing nature of professional life, perceiving the notion of equivalence as a reasonably fluid entity with the result that RPL cases can be complex to assess; A7
“There is something about maintaining an academic standard, its not a static thing, in terms of that standard, because all of the time that is being matched, with what else is happening out there in the outside world with what is happening in the area”.
Assessors were able to demonstrate an openness towards the argument of the candidate, coupled to an appreciation of the repercussions of their decisions around the assessment: A17
“Its worthy because this person has demonstrated that they have the foundations. And they know what they are talking about, then it is convincing, and you say ‘okay’, again, some people will have better words than others and can be very eloquent, others not so, but if they can get their point across, then its okay, and yes, its lovely reading the eloquent ones”.
Assessors call for staff to trust the process and their role as assessor within it. A5
“As an assessor, you must have trust and faith, you must believe in the process. Standing over it. If you are doubtful of the process … then you are not going to believe in it, or recommend it … I think that is why it is so important for the assessor to trust and have faith in the process, and to give feedback in all of that … and again, being robust is so important. Its got to be robust”.
In all, assessors maintain values and beliefs around defending and maintaining the standards of the formal learning system. While expressing an openness towards RPL and an acceptance of its place within higher education, all assessors strongly believe that RPL must never devalue a qualification.
Theme 2 Balancing between acknowledgment and maintaining the standards Readiness to engage with RPL is linked to Bernstein’s notion of prospective pedagogic identities. In positioning themselves as ‘balancing’ assessors immersed in what can be argued as the more applied provision of an institute of technology strongly identify with the demands of market-led provision and appreciate Bernstein’s notion of the totally pedagogised society. Balancing is a critical aspect of RPL assessment and is at the very core of RPL (Starr-Glass, 2012). Acknowledgment must be appropriate, it must be reliable and valid to the module or stage in question (Andersson, 2006). The data highlights a sensitivity and an openness amongst assessors to other forms of knowing, to keeping an open mind, and understanding that there are alternative pathways to coming to know. A30
“I have a core belief that everybody should be given an opportunity. However we must be realistic. The core skills of the individual candidate must be relevant to the programme of study”.
Assessors believe in equal access and fairness in terms of providing appropriate opportunities to enter higher education across a lifetime. One assessor expressed an opinion that the traditional modes of education are still quite inaccessible to any learner intent on accessing in a part-time or non-standard mode; and believe that the formal learning system is tailored towards conventional access routes provided by state examinations. Assessors called for comprehensive training with assessment of RPL cases, and explored the role of the RPL mentor in providing support around the assessment of RPL material. Assessors see the RPL process as stepping away from normal provision, and are more comfortable with visible supports in place, such as with the following comment: A5
“the assessor’s then need to be brought up to speed … there has to be a two way relationship then … so that the process is working properly in the various departments, that no-one is exposed anywhere. That is very important”.
Similarly the RPL candidate requires support:
“It would be important to reassure them. I would be fundamentally of the viewpoint that all knowledge is beneficial and that everybody has an equal contribution to make. You need to be able to instil confidence in them.
Balancing allows for acknowledging what the candidate knows, while maintaining the standards (Fenwick, 2006; J. Harris, 2006). Kawalilak and Wihak state, “a tension may exist between honouring the learner and honouring the curriculum”, (Kawalilak & Wihak, 2013). In positioning themselves as balancing when assessing RPL, assessors are reaching out. Assessors are aware of society changing rapidly outside of academia. It is as if they can position themselves as being responsive to these changes when confronted with RPL assessments. It is significant that almost half of the data in this study illustrates the capacity to balance between the formal learning system and the RPL candidate; as stated. A14
But you are actually guiding the student a certain extent when it comes to the RPL case, maybe picking through their skill set … you may be advising them as to how to frame their case so that they may make it.
The frameworks and standards offer secure scaffolds protecting the formal learning system, and so assessors are cautiously open to alternative pathways and access routes where appropriate. A11
“Not everybody comes from the same background, not everybody can get the courses that they want in college first time out, and also some people from disadvantaged backgrounds may get into education until much later on in life, and that is a belief that I have, we require RPL to accommodate.
Assessors are open to situational, tacit knowledge, and aware of the value of mature learners within a programme and the positive effect of having mature students within the group as a whole. This is tempered with a sense of the challenges that such a candidate may face when coming into third level.
Conclusion RPL assessors in this study came across as perceptive, sensitive, and experienced. Assessors know what will be expected of a candidate in higher education and possess a keen eye to judge if that person is likely to succeed. Mitchell and Grongold highlight the importance of increasing the confidence of assessors in making professional judgements when assessing RPL cases, and see merit in providing capability training within institutions. Assessors placed a high value on peer learning
through stories and incidents grounded in practice (Mitchell & Gronold, 2009). Such an approach would lend to development of informal support networks amongst staff. Starr-Glass 2012 argues that it is this balancing capacity which is the most valuable aspect of RPL practice, and which will enable all of the actors and their respective communities in practice (StarrGlass, 2012). The values and beliefs underpinning the capacity to balance between the formal learning system and the candidate are those that will nurture pedagogic agency for RPL. Cultivating pedagogic support for RPL will involve both national and local arrangements which nurture the capacity of academic assessors in assessment of non-formal and informal learning. This research is part of a larger investigation into the three main actors in RPL, namely; 1. RPL candidate 2. RPL mentor 3. Academic assessor Future research will investigate the viewpoint of the RPL candidate, specifically their values and beliefs around RPL to see how their voice compares with that of the academic assessor. Any variance between the actors will be further explored to gain insight to the many perspectives around RPL provision, with a view to cultivating pedagogic agency for its practice.
References Andersson, P. (2006). Different faces and functions of RPL: An assessment perspective. In P. Andersson & J. Harris (Eds.), Re-theorising the recognition of prior learning (pp. 31-50). Leicester, UK: NIACE. Baxter, J.-A. (2012). The imact of professional learning on the teaching identities of higher education lecturers. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 12(2). Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity; Theory research and critique (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Birbeck, D., & Andre, K. (2009). The Affective Domain: Beyond simply knowing. Paper presented at the ATN Conference, RMIT University, Melbourne. Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cooper, L., & Harris, J. (2013). Recognition of prior learning: exploring the â€˜knowledge questionâ€™. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 32(4), 447-463. Council of the European Union. (2012). Council recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning. Official Journal of the European Union. Brussels: Council of the European Union. De Graaf, F. (2013). The interpretation of a knowledge claim in the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and the impact of this on RPL practice. Studies in Continuing Education, 36(1), 1-14. Department of Education & Skills. (2011). National strategy for higher education to 2030. Dublin: Government Publications Office Retrieved from http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/national_strategy_for_higher_education_2030.pdf.
Fenwick, T. (2006). Reconfiguring RPL and its assumptions: A complexified view. In P. Andersson & J. Harris (Eds.), Re-theorising the Recognition of Prior Learning (pp. 283-300). Leicester: NIACE. Hamer, J. (2010). Recognition of prior learning: normative assessment or co-construction of preferred identities? Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 50(1), 100. Hamer, J. (2011). Recognition of prior learning (RPL): can intersubjectivity and philospohy of recgnition support better equity outcomes? Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 51(December), 90-109. Hamer, J. (2012). An Ontology of RPL: improving non-traditional learners' access to the recognition of prior learning through a philosophy of recognition. Studies in Continuing Education, 34(2), 113-127. Harris, J. (2000). RPL: Power, pedagogy and possibility. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. Harris, J. (2006). Introduction and overview of chapters. In P. H. ANDERSSON, J. (Ed.), Re-theorizing the recognition of prior learning. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Leicester: NIACE. Harris, J. (2011). European Union: Research and system building in the Validation of Non-formal and Informal learning (VNFIL). In J. Harris, M. Brier & C. Wihak (Eds.), Researching the Recognition of Prior Learning; International Perspectives. Leicester: NIACE. Harris, J., Brier, M., & Wihak, C. (2011). Researching the Recognition of Prior Learning, International Perspectives. Leicester: NIACE. Hay, C. (2007). Does Ontology Trump Epistemology? Notes on the Directional Dependance of Ontology and Epistemology in Political Analysis. Politics, 27(2), 115-118. Hegel, G. (2007). Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel: Lectures on the philosophy of spirit, 1827-28. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Heidegger, M. (1996). Being and Time. New York: State University of New York Press. Hewson, J. (2008, 3-4th April). RPL policy to practice: why the reticence of practitioners to engage? Paper presented at the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA) 11th Annual Conference, Adelaide. Ismail, S. (2014). Contested cultures of knowledge. Identifying challenges to include experiential knowledge into the academy. Postcolonial Directions in Education, 3(2), 292-324. Kawalilak, C., & Wihak, C. (2013). Adjusting the fulcrum: How prior learning is recognised and regarded in university adult education contexts. College Quarterly, 16(1), 169-173. Krathwohl, D., Bloom, B., & Masia, B. (1973). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co. Inc. Leiste, S. M., & Jensen, K. (2011). Creating a positive prior learning assessment (PLA) experience: A step-by-step look at university PLA. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(1), 61-79. Massaro, V. (2010). Cui bono? The relevance and impact of quality assurance. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 32(1), 17-26. Mitchell, J., & Gronold, J. (2009). Increasing the confidence of advanced RPL assessors. Paper presented at the 12th annual conference "Aligning Participants, Policy and Pedagogy: Traction and Tensions in VET Research", Sydney. http://www.avetra.org.au/papers2009/papers/35.00.pdf Peters, H. (2005). Contested discourses: assessing the outcomes of learning from experience for the award of credit in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(3), 273-285. Piaget, J. (1954). The construction of the reality of the child. (M. Cook, Trans), New York: Basic Books. Ralphs, A. (2009). A research proposal; Specialised Pedagogy. A comparative study of RPL practices within the changing landscape of the NFQ in South Africa. University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Richardson, V. (1996). The role of attitudes and beliefs in learning to teach. In J. Sikula (Ed.), Handbook of research on teacher education. New York: McMillan.
Shalem, Y., & Steinberg, C. (2006). Portfolio-based Assessment of Prior Learning: A Cat and Mouse Chase after Invisible Criteria. In P. Anderson & J. Harris (Eds.), Re-theorising the Recognition of Prior Learning (pp. 97-116). Leicester: NIACE. Starr-Glass, D. (2012). Partial Alignment and Sustained Tension: Validity, Metaphor, and Prior Learning Assessment. PLA Inside Out: An International Journal on Theory, Research and Practice in Prior Learning Assessment, 1(2). Trowler, P. R. (1998). Academics responding to change; New higher education frameworks and academic cultures. Philadelphia: SRHE, Open University. Turner, M. (2004). Values & beliefs in mentoring. Coach the Coach, (7). Retrieved from http://www.mentoringforchange.co.uk/pdf/CtC%20-%20Values.pdf Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press. Webb, S., Holford, J., Jarvis, P., Milana, M., & Waller, R. (2014). Lifelong education and transnational migration. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(4), 435-439. Werquin, P. (2010). Recognition of Non-Formal and Informal Learning; Outcomes, Policies and Practices. Paris: OECD.
Cultivating pedagogic agency for the practice of RPL through an exploration of the values and beliefs of RPL assessors Phil Oâ€™Leary and Dr Ann Ledwith
Recognition of Prior Learning Recognition for what is known prior to coming onto a programme of study
The reality of RPL provision â€Ś RPL is complex demanding to provide for demanding to support and demanding to assess
my research question â€Ś
Given these complex realities â€Ś What are the influences of some of the more tenuous factors surrounding the cultural acceptance of RPL by academic assessors?
What are the values and beliefs of academic assessors around assessment of RPL cases ?
Norm Friesen, Thompson Rivers University, BC
Does discipline matter? Other forms of knowledge, other sites of knowledge production
Bernsteinâ€™s classification and framing of knowledge
Linda Cooper University of Cape Town, South Africa Judy Harris, Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia
Assessment of RPL cases
Basil Bernstein Future pedagogic identity (values and beliefs) Qualification Frameworks
Official recontextualisation field
Professional identity and personal agency Pedagogic recontextualisation field
Totally pedagogised society
Conceptual framework Vertical knowledge of the formal learning system Discursive gap where pedagogic agency can operate (or the opposite, the gatekeeper effect)
Horizontal discourse of everyday life
Horizontal and vertical discourse
Classification of knowledge
Relationship between practical and theoretical knowledge
Totally pedagogised society and prospective pedagogic identity
Faculty Art and design
Business and humanities Maritime Science and engineering
10 4 15
Total 31 • Cross sectional sample • 31 academic assessors • Conceptual framework framing the research draws on Bernstein’s theories (classification and framing), and Cooper and Harris’s research • Initial open coding followed by thematic clustering
Upholding standards No ego in the way, non judgemental Fair Art & Design Responsibility of making the correct call Balance Expectations Listen
Bus & Hum
Balance Expectations Reciprocity Upholding Stds Value learning fairness
Upholding Stds Rigorous Expectations Acknowledge Cultural aspects
13 9 9
Sci & Eng
Upholding Stds Responsibility of making the correct call No ego in the way Fairness
Providing alternative pathways into education Value of learning gained non-formally and informally RPL is legitimate
â€˜Whyâ€™ codes Maintaining the standards Ability to perform in the world of work Give people a chance Art & Design
Bus & Hum
Sci & Eng
Maintaining stds Ability to perform in work Supports for staff Open mindset The right language Balancing
Maintain stds Integrity Give people a chance Offer pathways Honest motivations
Different expectations Professionally qualified Maintaining stds Social responsibility
Maintaining stds Right language Holistic Give people a chance Honest motivations Open mindset Balancing
Equal access Trust in the process Integrity
16 8 8
13 13 8
Art & Design
Bus & Human
Sci & Eng
Art & Design
Bus & Human
Sci & Eng
Chapters in life Providing alternative pathways RPL opens opportunities Educ still inaccessible
Chapters in life Value of learning Respect Providing alternative pathways RPL opens opportunities RPL legitimate
Value of learning Equality of opp Trusting stds Student is burdened Respect
Providing alternative pathways Mature students thrive Value of learning Trusting stds RPL holistic
Stages in life Fairness Opportunity
Equal access Opportunity Trust in process Equal access Holistic Fairness Integrity
Stages in life Trust in process Opportunity Equal access Acknowledgement Integrity
Trust in process Framework & stds Integrity Equal access Holistic Acknowledgement Fairness Opportunity
Upholding standards No ego in the way, non judgemental Fair
13 9 9
Maintaining the standards Ability to perform in the world of work Give people a chance
16 8 8
Providing alternative pathways into education Value of learning gained nonformally and informally RPL is legitimate
Equal access Trust in the process Integrity
13 13 8
Theme 1 supporting and maintaining the standards
Theme 2 balancing between acknowledgement and maintaining the standards
Conclusion â€˘ Balancing mind-set resonates with pedagogic agency for RPL in practice â€˘ Assessors in this study came across as perceptive, sensitive, and experienced. Assessors know what will be expected of a candidate in higher education and possess a keen eye to judge if that person is likely to succeed
â€˘ Peer learning and communities of practice to nurture capacity of assessors within the totally pedagogised society
DIMENSIONS OF LEARNING
Motivation to Learn and the Adult Distance Learner Ireland’s current education policy aims to increase participation in, and broaden access to, third level education opportunities. The University level sector has responded by increasing academic programme flexibility and improving access to educational opportunities for a wide range of learners. As a result there has been an increased level of participation by adult learners in Ireland’s tertiary education system. With growing adult learner numbers, educators and education providers are becoming increasing conscious that pedagogical practices and learning support measures must be adapted to accommodate a more diverse student base. Research is required to determine the effectiveness of learning approaches in ensuring academic success for all learners. Previous studies have shown the importance of motivation to learn for academic success but there is a need for more research in order to examine the effect of motivation as a predictor of adult distance learner academic achievement. This paper will present the finding of a recent graduate study (Maters Level) which aimed to investigate the relationship between motivation to learn and academic achievement. Participants were 43 undergraduate distance learning students (mean age: 37.95) at National University of Ireland, Galway. A mixed methods quasi-experimental approach was used. The Motivation and Engagement Scale – University/College (MES-UC) was administered to measure a range of cognitive and behavioural motivational factors: Self-belief, Learning Focus, Valuing, Persistence, Planning, Task Management, Anxiety, Failure Avoidance, Uncertain Control, Selfsabotage and Disengagement. Qualitative interviews were also undertaken. Correlation analysis showed that academic achievement was negatively correlated with ‘Uncertain Control’. No significant correlations were found between the other measured motivation factors and academic achievement. However, adaptive cognitive motivation factors showed a significant positive correlation with adaptive behaviour motivation factors. Qualitative findings highlighted the role of self-efficacy, interest, valuing of learning, goal orientation and learning strategies as a means of facilitating academic success. Adult distance learners score high on the thoughts and behaviours that reflect enhanced motivation. However, they also score high on some of the thoughts that reflect impeded motivation. This indicated that some adult learners seemed to have difficulty in translating their motivation thoughts into motivated behaviours. It also indicated that some adult learners show high levels of anxiety and are unsure of the extent to which they can avoid failure and achieve success in their studies. It is assumed that motivation is a malleable entity and can be changed or influenced in many ways. Therefore, as more and more adult learners engage in third level distance and blended learning programmes of study it would seem prudent for educators to give attention to strategies that can enhance and improve motivation to learn in order to boost academic achievement. Some of the strategies that might work well for adult distance learners are identified and ways of implementing them are reviewed.
Suzanne Golden, National University of Ireland, Galway
Motivation to Learn & Academic Achievement
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
What is Motivation to Learn?
Motivation to Learn
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Why is Motivation to Learn of Interest
Motivation to Learn
Personality Factors Motivation Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Review of the Literature
• Highlights numerous studies which demonstrate a significant relationship between motivation and academic achievement • Factors that underpin motivation to learn in contemporary teaching and learning contexts can be identified
• It is the integrated effects of these constructs that seems to have the strongest effect on learning success
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Factors that Underpin Motivation in Teaching and Learning Self-Efficacy Self-Efficacy Self SelfEfficacy
Self - Determination
Self - Regulation
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
School Institute Name to go here
Rationale for the Study
A review of the Literature showed that there is a growing body of literature on the role of motivation to learn on youth but very little research conducted on adults and even less on distance learning /blended learning adult learners.
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
The Research Study
• Mixed Methods Approach • Survey Instruments based on the MES: University/College • Semi-Structured Interviews
• Academic Results • Correlational Analysis on quantitative data • Analysis of qualitative data
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
School Institute Name to go here
Summary of Findings
• Academic achievement was negatively correlated with ‘Uncertain Control’. • No significant correlations were found between the other measured motivation factors and academic achievement.
• Adaptive cognitive factors showed a significant positive correlation with adaptive behaviour factors
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Summary of Findings (continued)
• Qualitative findings highlighted the role of self-efficacy, interest, valuing of learning, goal orientation and learning strategies as a means of facilitating academic success • Adult distance learners score high on the thoughts and behaviours that reflect enhanced motivation • They also score high on some of the thoughts that reflect impeded motivation
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Recommendations for Practice
Maintain (High Levels)
Reduce (High Levels)
Increase (Low Levels)
Maintain (Low Levels)
Valuing Learning Focus Persistence Task Management Planning
Anxiety Disengagement Self-Sabotage
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
What can we as Adult Educators do?
Improve SelfRegulation Skills
Goals and Intrinsic Motivation Enhance Feelings of Control
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Enhance Self Efficacy
Maintain self-belief in ability
Strive for Improvement
Opportunities to experience success
Exposure to experienced and successful students
Clear accurate constructive feedback
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Goals and Intrinsic Motivation
Stimulating Learning Tasks
Innovative & novel learning
Interrelationship of content
Content relevant to learners
Transferable to practice settings
Attainment of Mastery
Programme is valued and well recognised by provider
Educators provide opportunities for sub-goal attainment Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Enhance Feelings of Control
EffortHow much work?
Offer Opportunities to exercise control
Learning StrategiesHow do I work?
AttitudeFocus on thoughts about learning Marking Criteria
Choice in Assignment work Clear Feedback
Improve Self-Regulation Skills
Guidance on adapting to self-directed learning
Monitoring, control and regulation of thoughts Instruction on learning methods for distance education
Targeted Learning Support tutorials
Learning to Learn modules
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Focus on task related thoughts
Samples of previous papers
Info on Exam Protocols
Use of VLE Tools
Guidance & Advice on Exam preparation techniques
Increase sense of belonging
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Suzanne Golden Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Exploring Early School Leavers’ Experience of School Exclusion and Oppression with Theatre of the Oppressed SARAH ELIZABETH MEANEY, MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY ___________________________________________________________________________ Introduction This paper is an overview of research underway which investigates early school leavers’ experience of school exclusion and oppression. Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed has been implemented as a research methodology to provoke dialogue on this aspect of early school leaving, and to afford participants in second-chance education, who are engaged in lifelong learning, a space in which aspects of their stories can be given voice and made visible. In the following paragraphs I will present a background to the study, and illustrate how Boal’s techniques have been adapted in an attempt to create a more transformative and collaborative research process. Finally, I will argue why incorporating arts based research methodology into adult education research provokes understanding that traditional research methodology might fall short of providing.
Background to the study Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) turns the notion of traditional theatre, where there is a separation between the actors on stage and a passive audience, on its head. Just as Freire gave us the flipped classroom, and teacher-students and student-teachers, Boal gives us the ‘spectactor’, and invites the audience onto the stage. In so doing, the spect-actor transforms not only the fiction of the performance, but himself. Boal sees this invasion as a symbolic trespass, a necessary step in the path to freedom from whatever it is that oppresses us. Boal’s theatre opens up thinking on other forms of practice, and how it is conducted. In research, arts based educational research, which employs design elements that work toward transmuting feelings, thoughts and images into an aesthetic form (Barone & Eisner, 2012), might open up the possibility for research participants to trespass upon aspects of their own experiences thereby transforming his or her social reality.
This research study is concerned with exclusion and oppression within the mainstream education system, and its impact on the education and lives of early school leavers. Several of the participants of the study are acutely marginalised, in prison, in care or homeless. People for whom for some, it may be difficult to find a sense of solidarity with. Boal’s TO and multimedia tools are being used in this arts based educational research project to describe and present the educational experience of an ‘at-risk’, in an attempt to foster greater empathic understanding, and to reduce the existential gap between those for whom the education system works, and those for whom it doesn’t.
To date, there have been 4 focus groups involving 22 participants, four female and 18 male. 12 individual interviews have been conducted following on from the focus groups. Participants range in age from 15 to 59 with an average age of 26. This is a work in progress.
Excerpt from a focus group ‘Good of you to join us Charlie’. The maths teacher raises his voice sarcastically as Charlie slumps into a chair towards the back of the classroom, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up over his head. ‘Do you have anything to say for yourself?’ ‘Oh for God’s sake,’ mutters Charlie under his breath, rolling his eyes as if to say ‘here we go again’. ‘What was that?’ ‘Sorry, right OK? Sorry’. The teacher nods his acceptance that for this time a situation has been avoided, and makes his way back up to the board to continue the lesson.
This is the opening scene to ‘Dropped Out or Kicked Out?’ a seven minute dramatization of a school exclusion, written and performed by Kildare Youth Theatre. I’m showing it on a projector to a group of five men between the ages of 21 and 49 in the education unit of a prison. The scene culminates with the principal being called for after Charlie refuses to leave the class for using bad language. I pause the video.
‘Would any of that be reflective of your experience in the classroom?’
‘Just the messin’. A lot worse than that one. Yea a lot worse. Anytime the teachers would turn around someone would get hit with something. Get a smack with something flyin’ across. Rubbers going flying.’
‘Do you see the way he was told to leave the class? We would have been dragged out of the class. And he wouldn’t have said I’m going to get the headmaster. You would have just been taken out and whipped to bits like.’ ‘If you were talking like that in the class (in the video), the teacher, the nearest thing to them, the duster whatever they had, just thrown at you.’
‘When I came to this country I had an English accent on me, and the Christian Brothers trying to teach me. I just couldn’t get Irish. I couldn’t even pronounce the words…so they used to just kill me. They used to just bait me. And the more they’d bait me the more I just switched off and I just became where I just sat down like yer man on the telly (in the video).’
School exclusion and school excludees Literature on early school leaving consistently focuses on the characteristics of, and the consequences for the early school leaver. In terms of characteristics; we know that gender is a predictive factor in school completion, with males being significantly more likely to leave school early; we know that early school-leaving is especially high among students from families of low socio-economic status and among ethnic minorities such as travellers; and we know that drop out is far more prevalent among children with lower levels of intellectual performance (Byrne&Smyth, 2010; Downes & Maunsell, 2007; Eivers et al., 2000). In terms of consequences, early school leavers are more likely to become; lone mothers, unemployed, imprisoned, alcohol or drug dependent; are more likely to have poorer physical and mental health, and unsurprisingly given these ill-fated odds, have lower levels of self-esteem (Smyth & McCoy, 2009; Byrne et al., 2008; Byrne & McCoy, 2009; Freeney & O’Connell, 2009).
It could be argued that early school leavers who have experienced exclusion, are the same as early school leavers only more so. This cohort are ten times more likely to have special educational needs, between three and ten times more likely to be in care, five times more likely to be economically or educationally disadvantaged, and far more likely to have an
emotional behavioural disorder than their peers (McCrystal et al, 2007; Duncan & McCrystal, 2002; Parkes, 2012). The consequences for excluded early school levers are also magnified. Huge proportions of offenders have been expelled (O’Mahony 1997; ACJRD, 2007 cited in IPRT, Barnardos & IAYPIC, 2010). An unpublished report on heroin addiction and young people conducted in New York, found that in a sample of heroin users, 80% had experienced some form of exclusion from school prior to their heroin use (Wisely 1997 cited by Duncan & McCrystal, 2002; Moran, 2001). While in research conducted by Patricia Moran evaluating four early intervention substance misuse projects (2001), she presents a clear link between school exclusion and homelessness.
Given that exclusion is meant to be reserved for only the most serious acts of misbehaviour, it could be perhaps expected for there to be an overlap between those who are excluded from school and those who become involved in criminal or antisocial activities. However, research has shown that a number of young people offend and become involved in harmful behaviour following exclusion from school (McCrystal et al., 2007).
‘I got taken out and sectioned by the Gards, cos I started getting into trouble then cos I wasn’t in school’.
‘…when I tried to come back they told me like ‘no, you can’t come back, you’re out now, you’re expelled’. And they told me the only thing you can do now is Youthreach. That was when I started getting into trouble and I started getting JLO’s and the officers started coming to my house.’
Types of school exclusion Charlie is in the principal’s office with his mother, who is obviously nervous. His feet are placed defiantly on the desk. Across the desk sit the principal and the maths teacher. ‘We think that Charlie would be more befitting a more alternative style of education Mrs Hughes. He could learn a trade, become a plumber…would you like to be a plumber Charlie?’ Charlie’s mother is pleading. ‘But he’s only 15. Could he not stay and do his Maths and his English first?’ The principal and the teacher exchange glances. ‘What we’re trying to say Mrs Hughes, is that given the recent circumstances… he was abusive towards a
teacher…given the circumstances we don’t think we can have Charlie in the school. This a better course of action for everyone involved. We don’t want to go down the other route…none of us here wants to go down the other route.’
This is the final scene of ‘Dropped Out or Kicked Out?’ The credits roll and I turn off the projector. So would your experience in the principal’s office have been anything like that?
‘Spot on. That’s the way they spoke to my mother. They kept telling her things, they’d take the words out of her mouth and just turn them around. They only let me into the school in the mornings for an hour and that was it. Then it was 2 and a half months later we were brought in for a meeting, and that’s when I was told to leave the school’.
‘When you walked into the headmaster’s office it was big and burly like you know. Loud and in your face. It wasn’t like telling you to go and get a plumbing job. It was the cane.’ ‘My principal was afraid of my mother. My mother would throw up her hair in a high pony tail and she had big gold hoops so she looked like a traveller going in there.’ Exclusion from school has two main manifestations: formal and informal (Cooper & Jacobs, 2011). Informal exclusion is the ‘arrangement’ or ‘agreement’ with a parent/carer for a ‘cooling off’ period (Wright et al., 2000, p.1). It may also take the form of school ‘turning a blind eye’ to truancy or advising parents to choose a different school for their offspring Cooper & Jacobs, 2011). This tactic is often promoted as being in the best interest of the child/parent, as in these instances, head teachers or principals suggest to parents of ‘difficult’ children that it might be better to move the child to another school before permanent exclusion becomes inevitable.
It has been argued that the number of young people who are informally excluded from mainstream education needed to be added to official rates of school exclusion in order to assess the true extent of the problem (Smith, 1998). Furthermore, The National Economic and
Social Forum has highlighted its concern that as the current system of grants for schools is based on levels of enrolment and are provided to schools on a capitation basis, there is a disincentive to make known to the DES students who have left or have been expelled or suspended (NESF, 2002, p. 85). Indeed, the use of unofficial or informal expulsion has been highlighted as a potential cause for concern in many of the reports on this issue (Evans, 2010; Duncan & McCrystal, 2002; Parkes, 2012),
‘I wasn’t expelled, but my family were advised that I would be better off out of the school, so I wasn’t expelled...’ (Leo)
‘I thought I was getting expelled, so I thought ‘right then’, I’ll try in for another school, which I did. I tried in for a few, but they wouldn’t take me cos I was on the books. So I had to go through my social…cos I was in care, so I had to get my social worker to go contact the school and get them to take me off the books and all. And they wouldn’t do it. They didn’t want the expulsion’.
I wasn’t expelled I wasn’t suspended I was told to get out of the school. I was on the books. I left in second year and I was on the books. I had trouble trying to get in to another school then.
Reasons behind school exclusion While almost all school expulsions are due to some form of indiscipline or unacceptable behaviour in school, the reasons for exclusion vary from relatively minor incidents to serious criminal offences (Duncan & McCrystal, 2002). However, many studies have shown that in most cases school exclusion is the result of repeated displays of behaviour (Eastwood, 2000) or ‘persistent disruptive behaviour’
‘I assaulted a student so that’s what I got expelled for. Then I got expelled again for bullying, even though I wasn’t aware like that I was bullying someone. I got expelled for a year and then I went back and then they just expelled me cos I always went too far.’
‘I kicked it through and the thing swung open and I walked off with me bird like talking to her and he was there shouting at me for a while and I just kept telling him to fuck off and that was it then they’d had enough’.
‘I was 13 when I was expelled from school, eventually expelled. I was just disruptive, I wasn’t settling in.’
Sanctions such as suspension, detention and excluding students from classes are disciplinary procedures which are administered more frequently and are indicative of dropping out (Byrne & Smyth, 2010). Poor academic performance, poor attendance or lateness and minor breaches of the code of behaviour are deemed inappropriate grounds for these disciplinary procedures (NEWB, 2008). Nevertheless, early school leavers have consistently reported punishments being issued for relatively minor misbehaviours (Downes & Maunsell, 2007; Eivers et al., 2006).
‘I got one for running. From one end of the yard to the other. Up to me mate like. Outside. I was like ‘are you for real?’’
‘…like sometimes they’d just give them to you for nothing like. Like you’d talk in class ‘that’s it, I’ve had enough of you’’.
‘I actually came in in normal clothes before and they sat me in the study hall. They sat me down there for like fuckin 8 hours, no for like 5 hours sorry. On my own. They wouldn’t let me go home’.
‘They used to go around the classroom and tell you to pull your pants up to see if you had the right socks on like’.
Before exclusion – corporal punishment Up until the 1980’s, corporal punishment of children had been standard practice in Ireland and widely accepted as a necessary measure to instil respect for authority and to maintain discipline. For most of the 20th Century the law specifically upheld an adult’s right to punish a child in their care, and from the limited available evidence it seems the use of corporal punishment, which today would be classified as abuse, was scarcely questioned (Maguire & Cinneide, 2005). Anecdotal evidence provided in biographical and autobiographical accounts of Irish childhood contain numerous references to corporal punishment, often in a manner which suggests its acceptance as part of the ordinary fabric of childhood. Frank McCourt’s famous and controversial memoir ‘Angela’s Ashes’ (1996), for example, recounted (albeit humorously) a brutal childhood whereby regular beatings were doled out on children by family members, teachers and institutions alike, ‘When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all’ (p.1). ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, Joyce’s first novel (1916) makes reference to ‘the pandybat’, a correctional instrument used in schools fashioned out of a thick leather strap and reinforced with anything from wood or whalebone to lead, while Paul Muldoon’s poem ‘Anseo’ (2011), recounts the tale of a school-boy being sent out to cut a stick from the ditch with which to be beaten for being absent.
The Irish National teachers Organisation (INTO) admitted in 1964 that while corporal punishment was not supposed to go beyond a light caning, this was generally being ignored (Ferriter, 2005). Children were found to be receiving punishment in a variety of manners inconsistent with the Department’s directive, including canings on various parts of the body; beatings with straps or pointers; hair pulling; and beatings with hands or fists (Maguire & O’Cinnèide, 2005, p. 644). While children were theoretically protected from assault and ill treatment under the Child Protection Act (1908), as the act contained a provision which maintained the right of a ‘parent, teacher or other person’ to administer punishment as they saw fit, there were unsurprisingly very few prosecutions under the Children Act (Maguire,2009).
The late 1940’s saw a critical voice on the subject beginning to emerge, and parents, began to voice their concerns through a Dublin evening newspaper (Maguire & O’Cinnèide, 2005). The then Minister of Education rejected the legitimacy of the content of the letters, declaring
them ‘completely Un-Irish’ in spirit and an attack on the educational system (Maguire, 2009). Despite this lack of support at government level, the anti-corporal punishment debate continued unabated, and in 1974 the Irish union of school Students (IUSS) published a report ‘Corporal Punishment – the Brutal Facts’, which once again put pressure on the Minister to reconsider his department’s position on corporal punishment (Maguire, 2009). The report concluded that while many teachers regarded corporal punishment as a useful means of class control, ‘there are some sadists and other sexual perverts in charge of classes in Irish schools’ (p.66). The public debate which had begun more than 30 years previously culminated with the Department of Education setting out new regulations forbidding the physical chastisement of students, and in January 1982 corporal punishment was finally banned from Irish schools (Maguire & O’Cinnèide, 2005). However, for many, the effects of the corporal punishment era are far more than a distant memory.
‘There was all kinds of abuse going on, physical and sexual abuse…I would have been definitely singled out yeah. Definitely.’
‘Being told you were a fool, and being slapped. Back then they used to use the leather straps, canes’.
‘In the primary school we’d a teacher there who was very fond of the cane. But she used to make us go out into the fields and cut them down ourselves, and then bring them back, peel off the bark off them, like and they had to be swishy right…and she’d wallop you right.’
‘…he used to pick up the chalk eraser you know the wooden one, and he’d just throw it at your head… he’d just pick it up and ‘bam’. Blood and all would come out of it no problem’.
‘…you were just hit. If you were too giddy you were slapped and if you were cheeky you got the cane…the odd time you’d have got put out of class, but more so you got
punished in the class in front of everyone. Embarrassing. Makes you determined to do something else then. Kind of sends you on a different road.’
In 1970, the Kennedy report, which as well as exerting enormous influence on the conceptualization of non-attendance at school, also ushered in a new developmental model of child care in Ireland in that it recognised school absence as a warning sign of children and families in difficulty (O’Sullivan & Gilligan, 1997). The report went so far as to specify some of the physical, psychiatric or psychological difficulties, which may contribute to nonattendance (1970:82). This meant that for the first time, rather than viewing non-attendance at school ‘through the prism of deviance and criminality’, it was seen as an indication of a deeper disturbance in a child’s life, such as illness, poverty, disability or family dysfunction, and therefore warranting professional intervention rather than punishment (O’Sullivan & Gilligan, 1997 p. 6). Nonetheless, for some early school leavers it would appear that such indications are given little if any consideration.
‘They reckon I had ADH when I was young. And at the time they didn’t really know like. Cos I was thrown out of all primary schools. I never made it to secondary. I was sent into the homes.’
‘Cos I was suffering with depression and I was getting a lot of hassle whenever I went back to school. They didn’t even ask. They just used to say how bad my attendance was. And every time I went in they used to say ‘oh you’re actually in’ and everyone used to laugh’.
‘I tend to be the one who gets bullied a lot. Sometimes it was physical but it was more verbal and mental abuse. It was very stressful. A bit of cyber bullying as well. I found it very difficult to go in.’ ‘Just before I got kicked out of school, I was kicked out of my family (foster) home. I got put into a boys’ home up in XXX. Yeah. So that kind of made things worse in the school. Cos my head was all over the place, you know.
Working with Theatre of the Oppressed ‘….all theater is necessarily political, because all the activities of man are political and theater is one of them.’ (Boal, A. 1993. Preface).
Boal (1993) sees theatre as a weapon, and empathy as; ‘the most dangerous weapon in the entire arsenal of the theater and related arts (movies and TV)’ (p. 113). To illustrate this point Boal gives the example of ‘wild west’ movies, where we empathise with ‘the cowboy who can knock out ten bad men…even when those men are Mexicans defending their land and even when the audience is Mexican!’ This, according to Boal, is the antithesis of stimulating societal transformation, in that it is designed to bridle the individual, adjusting him/her to his/her pre-existing conditions. In order to provoke individuals into changing society, Boal urges us to look to other forms of theatre, and proposes TO, where the drama or story is presented from the perspective of the ‘oppressed’.
In January 2015, prior to the field work of this research study, I facilitated a drama project with Kildare Youth Theatre (KYT) with the objective of creating a short filmed dramatization of a school exclusion. The group consisted of 11 participants of mixed gender between the ages of 15 and 20, who had expressed interest in the topic. All of the group were experienced in dramatic play and performance. All of the participants, bar one, were in mainstream secondary education. The piece ‘Dropped Out or Kicked Out?’ evolved from eight two hour workshops, which followed the format employed by Boal (2002) for preparing for Forum Theatre (FT) or (TO) workshops. ‘Dropped Out or Kicked Out?’ is currently being shown to focus group participants, who have experienced school exclusion and who are now in ‘second chance’ education. Group participants are asked to comment on how the theatre piece should be changed to make it more realistic/reflective of their own experience, and are afforded the opportunity to offer solutions as to how to resolve the situation presented.
Grummell (2007) argues that the growth of discourses of individualism and market competitiveness in adult education policies, where all responsibility for self-fulfilment and emancipation is place on the individual, constrains the emancipatory potential of second chance education. The result being, that critical and emancipatory forms of adult education
are marginalised (p.1). The structural phenomenon of TO whereby ‘the oppressed becomes the artist’ (Boal, 1995), allows for an interruption of status in that the so-called ‘oppressed’ gains agency and is called to speak, participate and author alternative narratives as a collective, thus moving the focus away from the idea that social suffering is an individual’s fault (Connolly & Hussy, 2013). Within the aesthetic space of TO, which Boal describes as ‘tele-microscopic’ in that like a powerful telescope it brings things closer, these narratives can then be communicated in a collective context where they can be witnessed. I believe that incorporating Boal’s techniques into adult education research not only provokes understandings that traditional research methodology might fall short of providing, but is also aligned with the ideals of adult education - ‘empowerment, participative democracy and societal transformation’ (Grummell, 2007, p.6).
Acknowledgements This research is funded by the Irish Research Council and will go towards a PhD with the Adult and Community Education Department in Maynooth University.
References Barone, T. & Eisner, E. W., (2012) Arts Based Research, Los Angeles: Sage. Boal, A., (1993) Theatre of the Oppressed, New York: Theatre Communications Group Inc. Boal, A., (1995) The Rainbow of Desire, New York: Routledge. Boal, A., (2002) Games for Actors and Non-Actors. (2nd Ed.), London: Routledge. Byrne, D., McCoy, S. & Watson, D. (2008) ‘School Leavers’ Survey Report 2007’ Dublin: DES. Byrne, D. & McCoy, S. (2009) ‘School Leavers: How are they Faring?’ Dublin: ESRI. Byrne, D. & Smyth, E., (2010) ‘No Way Back? The Dynamics of Early School Leaving’ Dublin: ESRI & Liffey Press. Connolly, B. & Hussy, P., (2013) ‘The War against People: Adult education practice for critical democracy’ in The Adult Learner Journal 75-87. Cooper, P. & Jacobs, B., (2011) From Inclusion to Engagement, Chichester: Wiley. Downes, P. & Maunsell, C., (2007) ‘Count Us In: Tackling early school leaving in South West Inner City Dublin; An integrated response’ (a Commissioned Research Report for South Inner City Community Development Association (SICCDA) funded by South Inner City Local Drugs Task Force), Dublin: St. Patrick’s College.
Duncan, L., & McCrystal, P., (2002) ‘School exclusion and adolescent drug use in Northern Ireland: a problem being addressed?’ in Child Care in Practice, Vol. 8(3): 176-186. Eastwood, C. (2000). Who is ‘out of school.’ in Child Care in Practice, Vol. 6(1): 9–26. Eivers, E., Ryan, E., & Brinkley, A., (2000) ‘Characteristics of early school leavers: Results of the research strand of the 8- to 15-year old Early School Leavers Initiative’ Dublin: Educational Research Centre. Evans J., (2010) ‘Not Present and Not Correct: Understanding and Preventing School Exclusion’ London: Barnardo’s. Ferriter, D. (2005). ‘The transformation of Ireland 1900-2000.’ Great Britain: Profile Books. Flint, K., (2015) Rethinking Practice, Research and Education. A Philosophical Enquiry, New York: Bloomsbury. Freire, P., (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York: Penguin. Freeney, Y. and O'Connell, M., (2009) ‘Psychological, Economic and Academic Predictors of the Intention to Leave School Early among a Sample of Irish Students’ Dublin: CPA. Grummell, B., (2007) ‘The 'Second Chance' Myth: Equality of Opportunity in Irish Adult Education Policies’ in British Journal of Education Studies Vol. 55 (2):182 – 201. House of the Oireachtas, (2010) Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills First Report ‘Staying in Education: A New Way Forward School and Out-of-School Factors Protecting Against Early School Leaving’ Dublin: Author. Irish Penal Reform Trust, Barnardos & Irish Association of Young People in Care, (2010) ‘Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice Building Better and Safer Communities’ Dublin: IPRT, Barnardos, IAYPIC. Irish Union of School Students. (1974). ‘Corporal Punishment the Brutal Facts’. Dublin: IUSS. Joyce, J. (1916). ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’. New York: Viking Press. Kennedy Report, The. (1970). ‘Reformatory and Industrial Schools Systems Report’. Dublin: The Stationary Office. Maguire, M. J. & O’Cinnèide, S. (2005). A Good Beating Never Hurt Anyone': The Punishment and Abuse of Children in Twentieth Century Ireland in Journal of Social History, Spring: 636-652. Maguire, M. (2009). ‘Precarious Childhood in Post Independent Ireland’. New York: Manchester University Press. McCourt, F. (1996). ‘Angela’s Ashes’. New York: Scribner. McCrystal, P., Higgins, K. & Percy, A., (2007) ‘Exclusion and Marginalisation in Adolescence: The Experience of School Exclusion on Drug Use and Antisocial Behaviour’ in Journal of Youth Studies, Vol. 10 (1): 35-54. Moran, P., (2001) ‘The Evaluation of Four Early Intervention Substance Misuse Projects’ Lamberth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority: Policy Research Bureau. Muldoon, P. (2011). ‘Paul Muldoon Poems – 1968-1998’. Faber & Faber: London.
National Education Welfare Board, (2008) ‘NEWB annual report 2007’ Dublin: Author. O’Brien, T., (2013) ‘Awakening to Recovery and Honneth's Theory of Recognition’ in The Adult Leaner Journal, 59-74. O’Sullivan, E. & Gilligan, R. (1997). ‘No School, No Future’. Dublin: Irish Youth Work Press. Parkes, B., (2012) ‘Exclusion of Pupils from School in the UK’ in The Equal Rights Review, Vol. Eight, 113-129. Smith, R. (1998). ‘No Lessons Learnt. A Survey of School Exclusions’. London: The Children’s Society. Smyth, E. & McCoy, S., (2009) ‘Investing in Education: Combating Educational Disadvantage’ ESRI Research Series 006, Dublin: ESRI. Wright, C., Weekes, D. & Macglauglin, A., (2000) ‘Race, gender and class in exclusion from school.’ London: Routledge Falmer.
Listen to Sarah Meaney’s (Maynooth University) presentation – Dropped Out or Kicked Out? https://youtu.be/Egc2xWgFnjg
National policy, local response: Tensions and contradictions in learner and tutor discourses of labour market activation (LMA) Ms Kiera Ross (NUIG) and Dr. Lisa Moran (RERP, Teagasc and NUI Galway) Corresponding author: Kiera.Ross@interactivedata.com
Study Overview • In-depth qualitative study of learner and tutor discourses; ensembles of ideas, categories and concepts which give meaning to social phenomena (Hajer 2014); how discourses of LMA are (re)-constructed in national media and everyday ‘talk’ (Peace 2001) • Mixed-method approach (Mason 2006) encompassing QCA of (inter)national media around LMA, identifying points of confluence and convergence with learner and tutor discourses and policy ‘knowledge cultures’ (Tsouvalis et al 2000) • Study revealed how power dynamics, knowledge cultures shape discourses and ideas about LMA in diverse forums; reveals potential for conflict in actors’ perceptions
(Re)-defining the context: (De)contextualising Labour Market Activation • Labour Market – ‘competitive’ marketplace for the commercial exchange of labour (buy and sell) • Competing definitions of labour: e.g. feminist economists, ‘masculine’ conceptualisation of labour ignores and (re)-enforces structural barriers to work and education (Murphy, 2009; Lynch et al. 2015) • ‘Labour Market Activation’: government policy and interventions to stimulate employment. Active labour market policies are defined as: “…policies that provide income replacement and labour market integration measures to those looking for jobs… the underemployed and the employed looking for better jobs.” (International Labour Office, 2003)
(Re)-defining the context: (De)-contextualising Labour Market Activation • International global economic downturn since 2008; (re)-structuring of neoliberal economies; Irish government inciting growth through LMA measures; • Stimulus on the demand side; tax-related incentives for job creation • Stimulus on the supply side; focus on training and education to improve job prospects for unemployed people: “To provide unemployed people, in particular people who are long-term unemployed and young unemployed people, with opportunities to enhance their job prospects through value-adding work experience, education and training activities.” (Government of Ireland, 2012)
‘Learning in the City’: DALC and adult literacy • Statistics on poverty, unemployment and education levels indicate consistently high rates of poverty and deprivation in Dublin’s inner city area (CSO, 2011, 2013) • Research verifies that literacy levels are improving throughout Ireland; strong ‘cohort effect’ (successive generations going to school longer than previous generation) (Haase, 2009, p. 8) • However, Dublin’s inner city saw marked drop in cohort effect; 49.8% in 1991 falling to 20.3% in 2006 (ibid.)
‘Learning in the City’: DALC and adult literacy • DALC: Adult Education Centre in Dublin’s North Inner City
• Learners are accepted from around the country, DALC’s mission statement outlines its aim of helping to ensure that everyone in Dublin’s inner city has the opportunity to develop or improve literacy skills • DALC delivers two LMA programmes: • BTEI, aimed at people who did not complete the Leaving Cert • CES; supports movement of long-term unemployed into the workplace; basic skills development: reading, writing, spelling and computer literacy
Dublin’s North Inner City – a RAPID area (POBAL, 2010)
Policy-making and ‘doxas’ of care • Local Area Based Partnerships, established in the 1990s to address unemployment at a local level had limited success; not local enough to be truly effective? (Haase & McKeown, 2003) • A need for greater awareness of the dynamics of voter sentiment, loci of political control and economic vicissitudes (Larragy, 2015) • Visions of learning: ‘Transformative learning vs learning for work’. Irish education policy is heavily oriented towards the latter • Economic concerns placed ahead of social concerns, restricting who participates in policy practices (‘Doxa’ of care, Lynch 2012) (seeking a ‘real’ argument, Garavan 2013)
Methodology • Focus group interviews yielded conceptually and theoretically rich data on LMA discourses (cf. Barbour and Kitzinger 2001) • Ethnographic materials through Participant Observation (PO) on utterances, transfer of knowledge, narrative sequencing, timing of responses etc., complemented FG • Researcher negotiated insider/outsider distinctions occupying dual insider/outsider roles (cf. Moran 2007; Cush and Varley 2013) • ‘Interconnected’ processes of data collection, analysis and interpretation facilitated dynamic interchange of theory and method
Learner discourses of LMA: status/identity and power • Education and LMA is important for improving social and economic capital “If you’re not working you can’t afford to do courses… to better yourself.”
• Perception of place and belonging in inner city environment strongly influences their sense of identity and how they are viewed by powerful elites in society; “They put you in a section so you are down the lower class of people… no matter how educated you are.” • Feelings of resentment and powerlessness when confronted with governance culture that is predominantly top-down. “We don’t have a say. Everything just pushed through. ‘Ah, it’s only them. Sure they don’t matter at all’”
Learner discourses of LMA: status/identity and power • Ideas of alienation, social distancing and positionalities of elite decisionmakers in society; “People on the ground…should have an input. They will give…honest opinions. And…a voice”
• Conflict between demand for and distrust of locally-based representatives “… you need more people who grew up in your area to be… who’s not afraid to stand up and highlight … what’s going on” “You probably would know them. That’s the worst about it. Because they would be from your area as well.”
Tutor discourses of LMA: tensions, power coalitions and discourse: • Tutors experience and interpret tension between the Department of Social Protection, SOLAS and the Centre “There’s definitely an increasing tension between what government departments, FÁS [SOLAS] or the Department of Social Protection are looking for in terms of labour market activation…”
• Labour market needs continually prioritised over the education needs of the individual “It’s generally in the Centre as well… a pressure… in terms of people being workprepared as opposed to their educational needs being… their priority”
Tutor discourses of LMA (continued): tensions, power coalitions and discourse • The rational, statistical model favours a quick turnover of learners; runs contra to learner-centred models and discourses of education “A lot of funders want it fixed in a year and move them on… but you’re not going to… it’s not realistic” “… in a place like this, you can’t have somebody come in on the 1st of September and leave on the 30th of May all of a sudden ready for the mar – you know, for a job... sometimes it takes a couple of years before somebody is actually competent.” “The value outside of getting accredited… it’s really important but you can’t really measure that, you can’t bring that to the policymakers”
The democratisation of educational decisionmaking; power, knowledge and discourse • Democratisation of educational decision-making a contentious issue for policy makers, societal actors and theoreticians • Deliberative Democracy and Discourse Theory; education is discursive, comprised of competing visions of ‘good society’ grounded in knowledge, power gradients and social hierarchies
Conclusion: Democratisation of educational decision-making a challenge for policy makers, societal actors and theoreticians that needs to be addressed through the development of a culturally-sensitive approach to policymaking which recognises the value of knowledge cultures and facilitates greater involvement from local actors.
Teaching and learning focused interventions in the further education (FE) classroom: the impact on professional practice learning Sorcha O’Toole PhD Candidate, School of Education, NUIG Abstract Teaching and learning is at the very core of what we do as professional teachers. Striving towards fostering a climate that facilitates learning for our learners (Sotto, 2007) is elemental to what we do. John Hattie (2013) describes learning as the ‘...process of developing sufficient surface knowledge to then move to deep or conceptual understanding’ (p. 26). How do we know that our learners are moving to ‘deep or conceptual’ learning?
It is important as professional teachers that we are
aware of the impact our teaching has on our learners. This research is purporting to explore ways in which teaching and learning can be enhanced within the further education (FE) sector in Ireland. The aim of this study is to investigate and analyse what happens when we introduce a teaching and learning focused intervention directly into the FE classroom. The proposed intervention is an adaptation of assessment for learning (AfL) theory and involves the introduction and implementation of feedback strategies within the FE classroom. The research is carried out using the case study method, involving experienced FE teachers within one single case study institution. The fundamental principles underpinning a professional learning community (PLC) are used in the development of the intervention so teachers collaboratively engage as co-professionals as they introduce and implement the AfL interventions. The objectives of the research are to answer the following key questions;
What experiences unfold in the learning process among teachers and learners?
What happens to the professional engagement for the FE teacher as a result of the AfL focused intervention?
What happens for students’ engagement with their learning?
What experiences unfold for the case study FE institution as an educational organisation, as a consequence of the teaching and learning focused intervention?
This paper will outline the theoretical framework on which the research is based. The literature review has four main theoretical themes; learning, teaching, assessment for learning and change in professional practice, and they are all developed within the FE context. An outline of research procedures and the main data collection methods are presented. The initial findings from the research to date are highlighted. The Further Education and Training (FET) strategy (DES/SOLAS, 2014-2019) has quality provision as one of its five strategic goals (p.33). The rationale for carrying out this research is to generate empirical research in the FE sector in Ireland in relation to teaching and learning practices and processes. What happens to learning (for students and teachers), teaching practice, professional engagement and collaborative teaching when we use a specific teaching and learning focused intervention in an FE class? How does it contribute to and inform the strategic goal of quality provision in FET? It is a critical time in the history of FE in Ireland to create such empirical research as it will help deepen understanding and knowledge on quality teaching and learning processes within the sector.
Introduction This research is purporting to explore how teaching and learning can be enhanced and developed within the further education (FE) sector in Ireland. The framework for this research is situated in the theory of teaching, learning, and professional practice learning for adult educators in the FE sector. This study is investigating and analysing what happens when we introduce a teaching and learning focused intervention directly into the FE classroom. The proposed intervention involves the introduction and implementation of feedback strategies and so is an adaptation of the underpinning theories of Assessment for Learning (AfL). The research process used is the case study method, involving experienced FE teachers from one single FE institution. The fundamental principles underpinning a professional learning community (PLC) emerge in the development of the intervention so teachers collaboratively introduce and implement the AfL intervention. This paper will outline the theoretical framework on which the research is based. An outline of research procedures and the main data collection methods are presented along with the initial findings from the research to date. Theoretical Framework The review of literature for this research has focused on three main thematic areas; an exploration of the concept of learning, the concept of effective teaching and the concept of changing practice and teacher professionalism. More recent and modern learning concepts, to include AfL, are also explored to identify their contribution to the ideal of teaching and learning in the 21 st century. The research also examined the theme of learning, particularly highlighting the literature and theories associated with adult learners. The characteristics of the adult learner, the adult educator and related nuanced differences are discussed. For this research it was then pertinent to explore pedagogical processes of teaching within the context of adult learning and the characteristics of the effective and authentic teacher. The realisation is that teaching is intricately linked to learning. Motivation and the climate for learning are important factors and how this contributes to deep and surface learning as well as the impact that learner identity has on learning.
In the literature of this research
specific reference is made to Dylan Wiliamâ€™s (2008) development of AfL theory and his five non-negotiable strategies. To conclude, the literature review in this research explores literature pertaining to a change in practice as well as changes in learning 3
to portray a dynamic approach to teaching and learning for all. Ideas are presented to move towards a more professional approach to practice and a key dimension of this practice generally accepted in the literature is the ability to engage with reflective practice (Brookfield, 1995). Research Questions This research is questioning what happens when we introduce a planned teaching and learning intervention into the FE classroom. For the purposes of this study the introduction of ‘planned’ teaching interventions is referring to a purposeful effort delivered by FE teachers to engage in the delivery of feedback strategies in their practice involving the key stakeholder, the FE learner. The research is questioning what happens to the learning process for both the FE learner and the adult educator. The research is aiming to investigate to see what happens to professional engagement of teachers when a planned intervention is introduced into practice. How do FE learners feel and respond to the intervention and what happens to their learning? Ultimately, the research is trying to get valuable insight into what unfolds within the case study FE institution where the study is taking place and what can be learned from this research to contribute to quality provision in the FE sector in Ireland and similar situations elsewhere. Implementing the Feedback Strategies John Gardner (2012) acknowledges that the majority of research looking at AfL has taken place mainly in the compulsory phases of education (primary, lower and upper secondary). The focus of this research project is to explore, through a case study, specific AfL teaching practices and examine the outcomes of the teaching strategies within the FE sector. Wiliam (2011) outlined five ‘non-negotiable’ strategies of effective AfL; identify and clarify the successful standard, effective classroom dialogue, formative feedback, encourage students to engage in peer assessment and activate students as owners of their own learning. This research is specifically looking at feedback strategies; research respondents were asked to implement four feedback strategies over a period of two to three academic years and to focus on the outcomes of using such strategies for teaching and learning in their practice. The four feedback strategies are outlined below;
• Time in class for feedback • Focusing on what's next • Feedback to the task versus the self • Focused questioning to receive informed feedback from learners
Figure 1 Feedback Strategies
The first feedback strategy, time in class, asked FE teachers to give specific planned time in their class for the delivery of feedback. FE teachers were encouraged to use whatever method suited them in doing this; it could be individual feedback or group feedback, once a week or more often. FE teachers were asked to find out what works best for them and their subject matter and more importantly the learners in their class. Strategy number two, focusing on what’s next, asked FE teachers to always give learners an instruction on what they had to do next in a specific task or whole subject in order to move forward in their learning. The third strategy is asking teachers to be highly cognisant of giving feedback about the task in hand and not to give personal feedback to the learner. The fourth strategy is asking FE teachers to ask their learners three questions on their work in order to gain further insight into the learners’ learning and to encourage dialogue in the class. Wiliam’s (2011) research states that all of the above strategies improve learning for both teachers and learners. The above strategies were a tool in order to get FE teachers thinking about feedback in their practice. The research also asked participating FE teachers to share any other feedback strategies that may have used and found successful. This research is exploring new ways of giving feedback to adult learners. Research Strategy It was decided to use a case study strategy for this research for many reasons; the research was going to be asking ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about implementing planned feedback strategies into the FE classroom. Often the researcher has limited control over how events unfold and the focus of the study is on a ‘contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context’ (Yin, 2004, pg. 1). Cousin (2006) states 5
that it is important that the research focus is within a ‘naturalistic setting’ to gain insightful understandings of the case under scrutiny in its own habitat (pg. 423). This study is asking adult educators in the FE sector to implement planned teaching interventions and to examine what happens to teaching and learning. The case study wants to give readers of the study the explicit experience of ‘...being there so that they can share in the interpretation of the case, adjudicating its worth alongside the researcher’ (Cousin, 2006, pg. 424). This study is asking teachers to implement planned teaching strategies into their practice; it is set in a real-life setting. Teaching and learning are complex phenomena – it is challenging to understand them. It is hoped that the case study method will generate insight into this area of study. The study is going to contribute to existing knowledge on AfL theory and on teaching and learning. The researcher also aims to deepen understanding in trying to understand the very complex social phenomena of teaching and learning and what it ‘looks’ like within the FE classroom. Case studies allow the researcher to explore in depth a program, an event, an activity, a process, or one or more individuals (Creswell, 2003). Often the cases are bounded by time and investigators collect detailed data using a variety of methods over a sustained period of time (Stake, 1995). All of these characteristics are part of this study. Cohen et al (2011) cite Hitchcock and Hughes (1995) who highlight several hallmarks of case study research; rich and vivid descriptions of events, chronological narrative of events, it focuses on individual actor(s) or groups to understand their perceptions of events and highlights specific events that are relevant to the case, the researcher is integrally involved and the write up of the report tries to portray the richness of findings that were found (pg. 290). In a way the findings are allowed to ‘speak for themselves’ (pg. 290). Verschuren (2003) states that case studies provide ‘...unique examples of real people in real situations, enabling readers to understand ideas more clearly than simply by presenting them with abstract theories or principles’ (Cohen et al, 2011, pg. 289). There are negative perspectives on using the case study strategy and the method has often been viewed as a ‘less desirable’ form of inquiry. Concerns that have been cited include that researchers have been ‘sloppy’ and have allowed biased views to influence findings and outcomes. Another reason for concern is that case study research does not offer broad generalisation (Yin, 1994). How do we know 6
that the outcomes from this research will be the same or similar to other identical or similar cases? Case studies often take too long and that they produce very large amounts of documentation. However, careful planning and meticulous collation of data can counter balance these issues (Yin, 1994). This study has been mindful of these case study perspectives and the research to date has been meticulously planned and developed. The research is taking place in an FE institution that offers a wide variety of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) programmes who are the main accrediting body used within the FE sector. The programmes delivered in the centre are funded through the further education unit of the DOE and are funded throughout all 16 ETBs in Ireland. Thus it is believed that the findings from the research can be developed and applied across similar institutions across the sector. Pilot Phase A pilot phase for this research took place between August and December 2014. The aim of this phase was to see whether valid and reliable data was possible to collect for this type of study. The aim was to try and establish if there was authentic engagement of the teachers and willingness to get involved. Following the first meeting of the pilot phase I commented in my own journal that ‘....it was very encouraging, they realised that it was benefiting me for my study but that they will also benefit in their practice’. Following that initial introduction to the study two of the teachers approached me on different occasions and stated that she ‘...really felt the relevance of it (feedback strategies) and the practicality of it as we have to be so conscious of feedback all the times’. This teacher also showed me something she was going to ‘try out’ the following week, already a sign of engaging with the teaching and learning intervention. Another teacher mentioned how ‘....she really wants to improve how she gives feedback and she asked for clarification’. I noted in my journal that these were encouraging signs of engagement. Teachers were asked to think about feedback in their practice; what does it ‘look’ like, how often do they give it, is it written or oral. Teachers felt that they are constantly giving feedback but that it was not ‘planned’ feedback. This project set about engaging them in planned feedback strategies and allowed teachers to talk and discuss these issues. At another meeting in November 2014 the teachers agreed collaboratively to look at one feedback strategy (time in class) and for teachers to discuss the outcomes on teaching and learning. This was a sign of the teachers’ involved taking 7
ownership over the strategies to be implemented. At that time a lot of the teachers’ rhetoric reflected the difficulty of finding time to implement planned feedback strategies. They discussed how practical it was but more importantly the teachers started to talk to each other about feedback strategies and ultimately about teaching practice. It was the first signs of collaborative teaching, with the potential of leading to a professional community of practice. This period (August 2014 to December 2014) was an opportunity for me to try and establish how this may unfold for the study and it was an excellent introduction to the study for the teachers involved. I noted in my own journal during this time, ‘I think this phase has been invaluable and timely now for data collection, as they’ve (the teachers) had a breaking-in period. They can see how long and difficult it takes to implement this’. Research Tools for this Case Study According to Cohen et al (2011) case studies often have many elements operating within the single case study and as a result there are many data collection methods and many sources of evidence employed. This study is using a variety of data collection tools; semi-structured interviews, teacher group discussions, researcher diary, participant diary, documents and learner evaluation. Data collection is taking place over three academic years and consisted of the researcher carrying out several semi-structured interviews with FE teachers on introducing planned feedback strategies into their practice. Regular teacher discussion group sessions also took place. Throughout this period the researcher took detailed field notes and also transcribed interviews. The Research Interview The research interview is the main data collection tool used in this study. Kvale (2007) asks ‘If you want to know how people understand their world and their lives, why not talk with them?’ (p. 1). The human conversation is a basic method of interaction that we use every day in our lives. We get to know people through conversation; we learn about their experiences, feelings, hopes, desires (Kvale, 2007). The research goes beyond the everyday conversation and ‘...becomes a careful questioning and listening approach with the purpose of obtaining thoroughly tested knowledge’ (Kvale, 2007, p. 7). Also, the interviewer is playing a more passive role in the conversation than one would in a normal conversation (Loxley et 8
al, 2010, p. 4). In the research interview a stage is set up where the interviewer is in ‘charge’ of the production; he is the director of the performance. ‘The research interview is an inter-view where knowledge is constructed in the inter-action between the interviewer and the interviewee’ (Kvale, 2007, p. 1). The sample was a nonprobability purposive sample, with interviewees being selected because they had a specific contribution to make and because they have ‘unique insight’ (Denscombe, 2010) into the phenomena under investigation. While all interviews are not yet complete valuable data is emerging from the transcriptions during each interview. I was very conscious of listening to the respondents so I could clarify points that they raised or probed on points that I felt were of interest. As a result I did not stick to a ‘strict’ line of questioning but I always covered the key areas by the end of each interview. At all times I aimed to play a passive role in the ‘conversation’ and the interviews were always relaxed and I felt I had a good bond with the respondents at all times. Research interviews are carried out in various ways. In this study, a face-to-face semi-structured interview was used. The face-to-face interview was necessary because there is a desire to deepen understanding around particular teaching practices within the FE sector. I wanted the respondents to elaborate and tell me a ‘story’ about their learners and how they get them to close the gap on their learning. I was asking for an insight into their teaching practice which is very personal to teachers, so I felt that this was best achieved through a personal approach. Opdenakker (2006) describes the face-toface interview being characterised by ‘synchronous communication in time and place’ (p. 3). By this he means that the interview process is taking place immediately and the respondent is present during the interview process. As face-to-face interviews are synchronous in time and place, they are a good basis to read social cues from the respondents. ‘Social cues, such as voice, intonation, body language etc. of the interviewee can give the interviewer a lot of extra information that can be added to the verbal answer of the interviewee on a question’ (Opdenakker, 2006, p. 3). I recorded this detail in my interview diary that I had with me at each interview and I could refer to this detail during transcribing. The face-to-face research interview lends itself to creating a good interview atmosphere, which will lead to rich, full, earthy, holistic, and real data that Miles referred to in 1979. I noted in my journal that the second round of face-to-face interviews were much longer in length than 9
previous ones as teachers are discussing and elaborating more as the study progresses. Focus Group Interviews As well as face-to-face interviews, the focus group interview is also a data collection method for this research. Focus group interviewing can be described as an informal discussion among a group of selected individuals about a particular topic (Wilkinson, 2004). The aim of focus group interviews is to describe and understand meanings and interpretations about a specific topic from the perspective of the participants in the group, it ‘...encourages a range of responses which provide a greater understanding of the attitudes, behaviour, opinions or perceptions of participants on the research issue’ (Hennick, 2007, pg. 6). As a method of professional development the focus group is recommended in educational practice. Palincsar (1998) discusses the importance of applying the principles of social constructivism in the design and delivery of professional development of teachers (p. 370). She draws on research carried out by Englert and Tarrant (1995) where they brought teachers together in ‘learning communities’ to examine their own practices. ‘The teachers...systemically try out new practices, conduct their own inquiry regarding the outcomes of these innovations, and share their accumulated wisdom with one another (p. 370).
Kitzinger (1995) highlighted that in focus group discussions
people are encouraged to talk to one another, to ask questions, exchange anecdotes and stories. ‘Gaining access to such variety of communication is useful because people’s knowledge and attitudes are not entirely encapsulated in reasoned responses to direct questions (Kitzinger, 1995, pg. 299). This method of data collection was very important for this study for two reasons; it was an opportunity for teachers to discuss the planned intervention and how it is working and not working but also to encourage the collaborative teaching that was being promoted by the instance of this study. This method of data collection contributed to a deeper understanding for the FE teachers and provoked a desire for more learning on their practice. Kitzinger (1995) noted that ‘...group discussions can generate more critical comments than interviews (pg.311) and so the researcher is hoping that a combination of these data collection techniques will generate rich, insightful data for the study.
Findings As the researcher I have seen the shared values of participating teachers being explored and heightened as a result of partaking in this research. This links with the social constructivist nature of the research. Teachers have been given an opportunity to have time solely for the purpose of discussing teaching and learning. The focus has been on student learning; how do we know when are students are learning, how do we know when we can move on to the next topic on the curriculum? During the teacher discussion sessions FE teachers have had an opportunity to engage in reflective practice. Teachers commented on the ‘research diary’ that was given to them at the beginning of the study, ‘I’m just finding this (diary) a reflective tool; it really is a reflective tool. I’ve never took the opportunity to, although I like to reflect on my work this is making me do it, kind of thing, which cannot be a bad thing at all’. The focus of the teacher group session has allowed the deprivatising of teaching practice within the case study institution. An example of this has been the introduction of teachers bringing in their QQI assignment briefs for discussion and comment among colleagues. Here teachers are willing to have their colleagues comment and make suggestions on their work for improvement and for more collaborative practice. I noted in my own journal that teachers felt they had ‘...ownership over this type of activity. Teachers were very open to asking questions and looking for clarification. The session was very busy, active and teachers came away feeling it was very worthwhile’. One respondent stated, ‘...it’s nice to see especially when there are other tutors that are doing the same sort of modules that you are doing, you can see the different ways of preparing things that people have and delivering and so on. It’s nice to get new ideas from each other and share ideas’. As a result of all participating teachers using the planned feedback strategies there has been a renewed focus on collaboration in teaching. Collaborative teaching is not easy, and it is particularly difficult with the FE teacher as they are often working on part-time contracts with the DES. However, this research has given the FE teachers involved an opportunity to meet and collaborate. In one of the teacher group session’s one teacher commented the following; ‘It’s good for organisation, it gets everyone going and then you can see things where you don’t get a chance’.
While data collection is still ongoing, there are a number of emerging findings already visible in the study. Teachers have been very willing to engage with the process of the study, they feel they are learning from each other and welcome the sharing of practice that is taking place. One teacher commented the following during one of the interviews; ‘I found it great actually because it is nice to know how everyone else is doing as well and to see how it is working for them. And sometimes you think am I doing this right...and that we can share in that’. More evidence of sharing of practice is highlighted in the following statement; ‘...everybody has their own ideas and everybody has their own experiences as well and what has worked and what has not worked so it is great to share those (ideas)...and try something different’.
Teachers commented on a sense of knowing what is going on for the
learner and they feel the study has led them to becoming reflective practitioners. The following quote is from a face-to-face interview; ‘As a rule I am a reflective person but it has made me more reflective and it has made me realise the importance of being more reflective in the work because it is not one of these jobs where you can walk away. This is a job that concerns people and their learning and it’s important that you are on tops of things. To reflect is important’. Teachers also highlighted that it has changed their approach to teaching, especially topics that traditionally caused difficulty for students; the maths teacher discussed algebra being a very challenging subject area for FE learners and as a result of focusing on feedback around algebra learners responded positively and the teacher felt there was a better learning experience unfolding for the FE learner around the subject matter. ‘I have a feeling that they are getting more of a benefit from the maths. At least they are not frightened of the word algebra...so I think it has improved the focus a bit on that’. Teachers welcomed the formalising and structuring of feedback within the class and students welcomed being made aware of feedback and as a result could embrace it more. There was a heighted awareness that teachers also need to get feedback from students as the following quote highlights, ‘I’ve learnt that feedback helps. If I get feedback from the students it actually helps me to organise the class a bit better because you are getting it from their perspective and not just my perspective and sometimes there are things that I miss out on as a tutor...you’re moulding the class around their needs, needs I wouldn’t have seen if I didn’t listen to their feedback’. Vescio et al (2008) has proffered the features of a professional learning community (PLC) in five key characteristics; shared values, a focus on 12
student learning, reflective dialogue, deprivatising of teaching practice and a focus on collaboration. I feel these features are forming in this study, albeit slowly and informally. The authors state that the PLC can improve student learning by improving teaching practice. Teachers highlighted challenges for this type of practice. There is a high level of absenteeism among FE learners and this can impact on implementing feedback strategies in the classroom as time runs out and teachers revert to summative assessment in order for learners to complete modules. Often the skill set of the learner is not capable of engaging in receiving feedback from teachers. Teachers commented on difficulties in introducing it into classes and difficulties in recording feedback; however, they feel this will develop as their own skills develop in giving feedback to their students. Conclusion This research has implemented a planned teaching and learning intervention into a single FE institution. The teaching and learning intervention is an adaptation of the theory of AfL. FE teachers were provided with four feedback strategies to introduce into their practice over a period of two academic years. Teachers were asked to critically reflect on the teaching intervention being implemented and how that unfolds for them in their practice. What happens to teaching and learning in their classrooms as a result of using the feedback strategies? The research took place in one single FE institution involving six experienced FE teachers. The researcher in this study was very involved with the FE teachers using the strategies and a lot of informal discussions took place with all six teachers outside of the formal meetings. This paper reflects the data collected over the first of three academic years. Data was collected in the form of semi-structured interviews and teacher group discussions throughout the life of the study. The researcher also took a detailed personal journal. FE teachers were also asked to keep their own notes while implementing the strategy. These notes were very beneficial for the participating teachers during interviews and the teacher discussion groups to recall events that took place. These notes will also be used for qualitative data for the study. In the final phase of the study there will be learner feedback included. What is emerging at this stage of the research is that as a result of implementing planned 13
feedback strategies into the FE class the fundamental principles of a professional learning community is emerging. FE teachers were not made aware of these principles at the start of the study, but there are early signs of this type of practice developing among the study participants. Future phases to take place in this study include implementing the final feedback strategy as well as hearing the voices of FE learners on how feedback was given to them and what it meant for their learning. During research interviews with teachers, they stated that they would like to continue with the teacher discussion groups after the life of the study. Teachers have expressed an interest in how they can sustain this type of activity in their practice for the future. This will be a further focus of the study.
Bibliography Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a critical reflective teacher. San Francisco: JosseyBass Cohen et al (2011) Research Methods in Education. Oxon: Routledge. Cousin, G. (2006) Case Study Research. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 421-427 Creswell (2003) Research Design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc. Denscombe, M. (2010) The Good Research Guide â€“ For small-scale research projects. England: Open University Press. Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019 SOLAS Gardner, J. (2012) (Ed.) Assessment and Learning. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Hattie, J. (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. Oxon: Routledge. Hennick, M.N. (2007) International focus group research: A handbook for the health and social sciences. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Kitzinger, J. (1995) Introducing Focus Groups. British Medical Journal, vol. 311, no. 7000, pp. 299-302 Kvale, S. (2007) Doing Interviews. The SAGE Qualitative Research Kit. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Loxley et al. (2010). Introduction to Educational Research Methods. Oxford University Press: Oxford. 15
Miles, M. B. (1979). Qualitative Data as an Attractive Nuisance: The Problem of Analysis. Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 590-601. Opdenakker, R. (2006). Advantages and Disadvantages of Four Interview Techniques in Qualitative Research. FORUM: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 7, no. 4. Palincsar, A.S. (1998) Social Constructivist Perspectives on Teaching and Learning. Annual Review Psychology, no. 49, pp. 345-375 Sotto, E. (2007) When Teaching Becomes Learning: A Theory and Practice of Teaching. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. Stake, R.E. (1995) The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc. Vescio et al (2008) A review of research in the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, no. 24, pp. 80-91 Wiliam, D. (2008) Changing Classroom Practice. Educational Leadership, pp. 36-42. Wiliam, D. (2011) Embedded formative assessment. America: Solution Tree Press Wilkinson, S. (2004) Focus groups: A feminist method. In S.N. Hesse-Biber & M.L. Yaiser (eds.), Feminist perspectives on social research (pp. 271-295) Yin, R.K. (2004) Case Study Research: Design and Methods. USA, Sage Publications Inc.
Assessment for Learning Teaching and learning focused interventions in the further education (FE) classroom The impact on professional practice learning
Outline of Presentation • Literature Review • Research Question • Research Procedures – Outline of data collection to date and for the coming year
• Findings from the research to date • Future work
1. Concept of Learning (Part 1)
5. Change •In practice •In learning •In teaching (professional) •Dynamic
Change is necessary
Traditional learning theories Adult learning Adult Learner in FE (who, where, what do they need, their issues How has the DES responded
4. Assessment for Learning(AfL) •Theory •Five Strategies •Critique of AfL •Links to learning and teaching
Adult Educator – how do they teach? Characteristics of .. Is the adult educator doing this
Will AfL contribute to the ideal of learning and teaching?
3. Concept of Learning (Part 2) What is learning? Modern learning theories Motivation/climate impact on learning
2. Concept of Teaching Teaching is intricate to learning
•Processes of teaching •Authenticity in teaching Reflective practice
Deep vs. surface learning
Engagement (learner identity)
Change in practice Professional teacher
Research Question • The objectives of the research are to answer the following key questions; – What happens – Impact on the learning process – Impact of focused intervention on professional engagement – Impact on students’ engagement with their learning – Impact on the case study FE institution
Research Procedures â€˘ Case Study Real life events
Complex social phenomena
Variety of evidence
Criticisms Lack of rigor, generalisation, time
Main Data Collection Methods
Teacher Group Discussions
August 2013 – August 2014 – Review of the literature
Research Procedure August 2014 to May 2015 August 2014
Stage 2 – Pilot Study. Introduction of planned feedback interventions into the classroom. Ethical Approval Process – concerns of the committee PDE (FE) Group - Dec 2014 and Jan 2015
Stage 3 – 1st recorded group session with teachers on the planned interventions
Stage 4 – 1st Individual participant interviews
Stage 5 – 2nd recorded group session with teachers on the planned interventions
Researcher Notes Transcribing
Sep to Dec 2014
Stage 1 – Introduce study to potential participants. Information session on the research and research question.
Research Procedure August 2015 to May 2016
Stage 7 – 2nd Individual participant interviews
Stage 8 – 4th recorded group session with teachers on the planned interventions
Stage 9 – 3rd Individual participant interviews
Stage 10 –5th recorded group session with teachers on the planned interventions
Researcher notes Transcribing
Stage 6 – 3rd Regrouping with teachers on the planned interventions to implement
Professional Learning Community Improving student learning by improving teaching practice (Vescio et al. 2008)
Focus on student learning
•Focus on student learning
Focus on Collaboration
•Focus on collaboration
Findings from the Study to date • Response from teachers – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Very willing to engage with the study and the process, learning from each other, sharing of practice Discussion in class gives confidence to shy/weak learners Sense of knowing what is going on for the learner Diaries Led to reflective practice Led to different approach to teaching, e.g.. algebra Formalising & structuring the feedback, students being made aware of the feedback they embrace it more Experience of teacher Realisation that teachers need to get feedback from learners Listening has been developed Feedback leads to dialogue Group feedback better than one-to-one Apply the strategies at different stages of the learners’ ability
• Challenges encountered – – – – – – – – – –
High level of absenteeism among learners Skill set of the learner Teachers tending to focus on summative feedback Arranging the group sessions Time Difficult to introduce into the class Difficult to record feedback (written record) Impact of missing a group session Strategies not working on unmotivated groups To date impact on teaching but not visible on the learning
Stage 6 - 10 of Research August 2015 – May 2016 • 2 remaining strategies to implement (3 questions and focusing on the task vs. self) Momentum of feedback strategies
Momentum of feedback strategies
•Assignment briefs •Whole centre approach •Introduction of feedback at induction
•Response from learners on feedback Momentum of feedback strategies
•Possibility of introducing discussion strategies?
Thank you for listening Sorcha Oâ€™Toole email@example.com
References • • • • •
Assessment Reform Group, (2002) Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (2012) Developing a Theory of Formative Assessment. In Gardner J (Ed) Assessment and Learning. London: Sage Publications, pp. 206-230. Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (2009) Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment Evaluation Association, vol. 21, pp. 5-31. Wiliam, D. (2008) Changing Classroom Practice. Educational Leadership, pp. 36-42. Wiliam, D. (2011) Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington: Solution Tree Press.
Questions for Panel • What is the problem that I am investigation? – Introducing pre-planned intervention in teaching and learning that has proven to work in the secondary level education into the FE sector – What modifications must we carry out? – Reaction to the intervention from both teachers and learners – Is teaching and learning improved
• • • • •
Where next What strategies will we use next How the skill evolves over time Writing up as I go Reasons for Case Study vs. Action Research – Teachers new to research – wouldn’t have been ready to take on action research; needed more scaffolding – Practitioner Research – my personal journey here
EUCEN Conference Abstract (Oral) Paper Title: A mixed methods study of the guidance counselling needs of adult learners with dyslexia through a social justice lens Presenter: Petra Elftorp, PhD Student, Department of Education and Professional Studies, University of Limerick. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Supervisors: Dr. Lucy Hearne, Department of Education and Professional Studies, University of Limerick. Email: email@example.com Dr. Barry Coughlan, Department of Psychology, University of Limerick. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org This paper will present the findings of a doctoral study which has addressed an underresearched topic in the Irish adult education sector. Specifically, the aim of the study was to investigate the guidance counselling needs of adults with dyslexia within the national Adult Education Guidance Initiative (AEGI). Through a critical-recognitive social justice lens and a mixed methods research design, a comprehensive picture has emerged of current issues in relation to supporting adult learners with dyslexia in the Irish education system. The initial phase of this study explored AEGI guidance counsellors’ experiences of providing guidance counselling to adults with dyslexia through an online survey. The second phase investigated the lived experiences of adults with confirmed and suspected dyslexia through 14 semistructured face-to-face interviews. In relation to policy, guidance counselling is described as a tool for the implementation of public policy goals of learning, labour market and social equity (Council of the European Union 2008; Darmon and Perez 2011; ELGPN 2012; OECD 2004). Furthermore, guidance counsellors have been found to have a pivotal role in supporting the educational progression of students with special educational needs (McGuckin et al. 2013). However, AEGI practitioners are working with stretched resources and complex client issues (Bimrose and Hearne 2012). Furthermore, a review of the literature has revealed a need for a stronger evidence-base to support adult guidance provision in the AEGI. A synthesis of the overall findings identified two key themes. The first theme relates to the ‘lived realities’ of adults with dyslexia in relation to living with, identifying/diagnosing, and disclosing their dyslexia. The second theme focuses on dyslexic adult learners in the Irish education system and discusses their progression, coping strategies and support, such as guidance counselling. The experiences of both the guidance counsellors and the dyslexic adults highlight a number of recognitive and distributive social justice issues related to identity construction, self-confidence, and access to funding, assessments, support and education (Fraser and Honneth 2003; Irving 2010). Nonetheless, the findings also identify that many dyslexic adults experience positive educational and career progression through developed resilience and unique coping strategies to overcome the challenges that dyslexia may entail.
Finally, these findings have a number of practice, policy and research implications in relation to public policy goals of social equity and promotion of equal opportunities in guidance counselling and education. In relation to practice, there are some fundamental training and CPD implications that need to be addressed to support guidance counsellors in their intervention work with adults with dyslexia. However, guidance support is often circumscribed by the limited external assessment and support services locally. In light of this, policy implications primarily relate to the need to make assessment and support services more accessible, and to prioritise adult guidance counselling, in order to facilitate and encourage participation of adults with suspected and confirmed dyslexia in lifelong learning. This study has also revealed a need for further research in relation progression and provision of support to adult students with dyslexia in the FET sector as it was found to be fragmented and poorly prioritised compared to the Higher Education sector particularly in light of recent and proposed changes in the FET sector (SOLAS 2014).
Lifelong Learning Conference 2015 â€˜Re-imaging Lifelong Learningâ€™ December 11th 2015, NUI Galway Paper: A mixed methods study of the guidance counselling needs of adult learners with dyslexia through a social justice lens PhD student: Petra Elftorp, University of Limerick, email@example.com Supervisors: Dr. Lucy Hearne, University of Limerick, firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Barry Coughlan, University of Limerick, email@example.com
Aim and Objectives The overall aim is to investigate of the guidance counselling needs of adults with dyslexia within the Adult Educational Guidance Service (AEGS)
•The objectives of the study are to: •Undertake a comprehensive literature review •Examine guidance practitioners experiences through an online survey •interview dyslexic adults about their lived experiences •make recommendations
Research Paradigm: Critical Pragmatism Research Paradigm: Critical Pragmatism
Pragmatism Interpretative and Contextual with a focus on practical, social problems, criticality and Reflexivity (Midtgarden 2012; Morgan 2014)
Critical and Pluralistic Social Justice Social Justice for Dyslexic individuals: Equity, Redistribution and Recongition
Socially Just Guidance Counselling promoting individual and social change (Fraser and Honneth 2003; Irving 2005; Prilleltensky and Stead 2012)
The Dyslexic Client Factors impacting on wellbeing of client: Biological, Psychological, Social factors (WHO 2011)
Defining Social Justice Not a state, but a stance to guide us as individuals, professionals and researchers (Sultana 2014) Redistributive: Redistribution of resources to â€˜level the playing fieldâ€™ Recognitive: institutional and relational respect for and valuing of difference (Fraser and Honneth 2003). Removing barriers to lifelong learning, the labour market and decision making processes (Young 1990) Guidance counsellors: help individuals overcome barriers AND working towards removing barriers for underrepresented and marginalised adult learners
Defining Dyslexia Dyslexia as “a difference in acquiring reading, spelling and writing skills /…/ can also affect organisational skills, calculation abilities etc. /…/ [with] ongoing challenge for people with dyslexia navigating through life in a largely nondyslexia friendly world…” (European Dyslexia Association 2015, online) The Discrepancy approach • Lack of evidence (Elbro 2010) • IQ tests persist • Failure as a prerequisite Public and political discourses often deny, question or refute dyslexia as a distinctive condition (Elliott and Grigorenko 2014; EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy 2012)
Support Structures • In HE: Disability support services: criteria of a formal diagnosis (max 3 years) (Harkin et al. 2015) • In FET: Often informal structures, vary throughout the country and Support is largely within discretion of individual teachers and tutors (McGuckin et al. 2013; McGuinness et al. 2014) • ‘Fund for Students with Disabilities’: limited to full-time learners on QQI level 5 courses and up (AHEAD 2015; Duggan and Byrne 2013)
Research Study Context Adult Educational Guidance Service (AEGS) Current guidance discourses framed by neoliberalism and individualism A person’s value = economic and productive potential Barrier to employment = individual (Arthur 2014)
Policy: ‘Inclusion’, ‘equality’ and ‘access’ - Key words in education, guidance and disability policy (e.g. DES 2000; OECD 2004; SOLAS 2014) • …empty rhetoric? Simplifying complex social issues rather than creating inclusive societies (Arthur 2014; Riddell 2009)
Research Design Quan Data collection
QUAL Data collection
QUAL Analysis Winter 2014/15
Integration and Interpretation of quan and QUAL
Synthesised Findings from Phases 1 & 2 Emergent Thematic Areas
Lived realities of dyslexic adults • Labelling and Identity
– Misrecongition: pejorative labels – Contrasting EU High Level Group of Experts of Literacy 2012 – ‘Disabled’ – a contested identity
– Transformative or means to an end – Reframing (self and education) and coming to terms – Financial barrier
– Selective disclosure based on anticipated outcomes – Power positions
Synthesised Findings from Phases 1 & 2 Emergent Thematic Areas
Educational Progression of Dyslexic Adult Learners • Education:
– Psychological scars
– Level of effort not reflected in level of progress – Anxiety (social, educational and career situations)
• Enablers – – – –
Technology tools Time Balanced support Positive learning experiences
• Guidance counselling
– Referrals? ALS often the only option – Advocacy and encouragement of self-advocacy – More resources, time and training (Elftorp and Hearne 2014)
Re-imagining… A Socially Just Perspective on Dyslexia and Lifelong Learning • Re-imagining (dyslexic) lifelong learners and their trajectories • Dyslexic learners as successful against the odds • Dyslexia as hidden (so are abilities and talents) • Expand discourses on intelligence and success (Arthur 2014)
• Re-imagining inclusion and ‘differences’
• From removing differences to valuing them (Riddell 2009) • Normalising forces focus on learners conforming – rather than accommodating their needs • Enmeshment of dyslexia and literacy difficulties
• Re-imagining dyslexia support provision • • • •
Access criteria Value of diagnosis Holistic perspective on support (personal, educational and career) Equitable and fair nationwide delivery
References • AHEAD (2015) Numbers of Students with Disabilities Studying in Higher Education in Ireland 2013/14, Dublin: AHEAD Ed. Press • Arthur, N. (2014) ‘Social justice and career guidance in the Age of Talent’, International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 14(1), pp. 47-60. • Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) ‘Using thematic analysis in psychology’, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. • DES (2000) Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education, Dublin: The Government Stationary Office • Duggan, C. and Byrne, M. (2013) ‘What Works in the Provision of Higher, Further and Continuing Education, Training and Rehabilitation for Adults with Disabilities? A Review of the Literature’, Trim, Co. Meath: National Council for Special Education • Elftorp, P. and Hearne, L. (2014) An Investigation of the Guidance Counselling Needs of Adults with Dyslexia in the Adult Educational Guidance Initiative (AEGI), Adult Learner, Dublin: Aontas • Elbro, C. (2010) 'Dyslexia as Disability or Handicap: When Does Vocabulary Matter?', Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(5), 469-478.
• Elliott, J. G. and Grigorenko, E. L. (2014) The Dyslexia Debate, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • European Dyslexia Association (2015) [online], available: http://www.eda-info.eu/what-is-dyslexia • European Union High Level Group of Experts on Literacy (2012) Final Report [online], available: ec.europa.eu/education/policy/school/doc/literacyreport_en.pdf • Fraser, N. and Honneth, A. (2003) Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-philosophical Exchange, London: Verso • Harkin, E., Doyle, A., and McGuckin, C. (2015) ‘Screening and assessment of Specific Learning Disabilities in higher education institutes in the Republic of Ireland’, Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 25(Special Issue 01), 13-23. • Irving, B. A. (2005) ‘Social Justice: A Context for Career Education and Guidance’, in Irving, B. A. and Malik, B. (eds.) Critical Reflections on Career Education and Guidance: Promoting Social Justice within a Global Economy, New York: Routledge, 10-24.
References • McGuckin, C., Shevlin, M., Bell, S. and Devecchi, C. (2013) Moving to Further and Higher Education - An Exploration of the Experiences of Students with Special Educational Needs, NCSE Research Report no. 14, Trim, Ireland: NCSE • McGuinness, S., Bergin, A., Kelly, E., McCoy, S., Smyth, E., Whelan, A., and Banks, J. (2014) Further Education and Training in Ireland: Past, Present and Future, Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute • Midtgarden, J. (2012) ‘Critical Pragmatism: Dewey’s Social Philosophy Revisited’, European Journal of Social Theory, 15(4), pp.505–521. • Morgan D. L. (2014) ‘Pragmatism as a Paradigm for Social Research’, Qualitative Inquiry, 20(8), 1045-1053. • National Guidance Forum (2007) Guidance for Life: An Integrated Framework for Lifelong Guidance in Ireland, available: www.nationalguidanceforum.ie • OECD (2004) Career Guidance and Public Policy: Bridging the Gap, available: www.oecd.org • Prilleltensky, I., and Stead, G. B. (2012) ‘Critical psychology and career development: Unpacking the adjust–challenge dilemma’, 39(4), 321-340.
• Riddell, S. (2009) ‘Social justice, equality and inclusion in Scottish education’, Discourse, 30(3), 283-297. • SOLAS (2014) ‘Further Education and Training Strategy 2014 – 2019’, available: www.education.ie/ • Sultana, R. G. (2014) ‘Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will? Troubling the Relationship Between Career Guidance and Social Justice’, International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 14(), 5-19. • World Health Organization (2011) [online] ‘World Report on Disability’, available: http://www.who.int/ • Young, I. M. (1990) Justice and the Politics of Difference, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
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Lifelong Learning Conference NUI Galway EQUAL Ireland Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Participant Survey 2015 A Presentation by Nuala Keher and Eddie Higgins, Executive Directors, EQUAL Ireland
December 11 2015
EQUAL Ireland is a community based 'not for profit' charitable trust, which is engaged in the design, development and delivery of 3rd Level Programmes especially, but not exclusively, to Disadvantaged Learners
Founded in 2000 by Academics, Social Partners, Community and Workplace Organisations This RPL Participant Survey involves 60+ EQUAL Ireland RPL participants registered with the Athlone Institute of Technology and The RPL Process in operation is a development of that originally agreed by the LĂonra Higher Education Network in 2006.
There are currently two target programmes for our RPL Process: BA in Business, Enterprise & Community Development BA (Hons) in Business, Social Enterprise, Leadership & Management A 3rd target Programme, currently in development, will be at Masters Level.
THE PARTICIPANTS Majority are women Disadvantaged educationally because of economic, geographic, social reasons or a disability Community or workplace mix, running their own business, High flyers (exceptionally) Common attributes: A lifetime of experience and learning, and a Distinct lack of the necessary formal qualifications. GAINING THEIR ATTENTION Generating interest in Education as an option Gaining entry through a mix of relevant experience in business community and or volunteering or workplace representation RPL Process is Free to the Applicant Interview & Commencement part of validation process Alternative routes are advised if required
THE RPL PROCESS Programme Learning Outcomes based system BA in Business, Enterprise & Community Development has 8 Programme Learning Outcomes BA (Hons) in Business, Social Enterprise, Leadership and Management has 16 Programme Learning Outcomes. Typical EQUAL Ireland RPL Portfolio for the BA7 will consist of 8,000 to 15,000 words BA (Hons) is around 30,000 words. Documentation and Guidance provided to Applicant Each Learning outcome, and the general outline of the applicants ideas of how they will respond, is discussed between the Mentor and the Applicant, Applicant submits drafts to the Mentor who in turn provides feedback until the Applicant primarily is satisfied. The RPL Portfolio then goes to EQUAL Ireland for initial opinion and then to AIT for a jointly based decision making process. Options for Decision include Acceptance, Clarification or Further Work, Interview, or finally an Alternative Route.
THE ROLE OF EQUAL IRELAND PRIOR TO COMMENCING THE PROCESS: I knew that I had a lot of knowledge and experience and I didn't want to
waste it but I didn't know how to express it or even identify it before EQUAL Ireland. I had looked at several part time and distance third level courses but they didn't come with the experienced mentors or didn't seem to value RPL to the same degree.
I felt like it (exemptions through RPL) was a pipe dream, that I was never
going to get a degree. I think if it had not been for EQUAL Ireland at that early stage, I would have abandoned the process
Given that those of us who apply through RPL have often been out of
education for a long period of time, the prospect of compiling the portfolio can be daunting.
PRIOR TO COMMENCING THE PROCESS PREPARATION AND INDUCTION – FOLLOWING INDUCTION 93% felt that the EQUAL Ireland preparation was spot on. LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY ANTICIPATED 53% felt it would be ‘difficult’ to describe their learning and experience
SELF CONFIDENCE low by a minority 40% WRITING SKILLS 36% were concerned about their writing skills FEAR OF FAILURE Had a 30% rating
THE ROLE OF THE MENTOR
THE LEARNING OUTCOMES
THE VOLUME OF WORK
THE ASSESSMENT PROCEDURE
GUIDANCE AND DIRECTION PROVIDED 97% positive rating with a high level of clarity about what was expected of them MENTOR ACCESSIBILITY AND SUPPORT Participants rated this at 100% positive PREFERENCE FOR NON -ACADEMIC MENTOR Again a 100% positive response participants preferred the Non Academic agent
PROVIDING USEFUL INFORMATION 90% agreed feedback was useful â€¦.. FEEDBACK
including building confidence and motivating the participants to persist
The process was made less daunting by the clam facilitation and supportive approach taken by Equal Ireland
The process was made less daunting by the clam facilitation and
supportive approach taken by EQUAL Ireland
After being out of formal education for 10 years, I was concerned
about the RPL process but thanks to the team at EQUAL Ireland, I had the confidence to apply myself to this part of the process.
Again I cannot speak more highly of my mentor, he was very
supportive and helped me overcome any obstacles that came my way. He was quick to respond and always provided brilliant feedback on my work, that helped me achieve my place on my degree.
Without this support I would not have gone forward. Thanks to the
EQUAL Ireland Mentor!
DURING THE RPL PROCESS THE LEARNING OUTCOMES 45% found the Learning Outcomes confusing 47% stated that the Learning Outcomes were repetitive 38% felt there were too many Learning Outcomes. VOLUME OF WORK 14% felt that the volume of work required was excessive OVERALL ASSESSMENT 97% Positive
ASSESSMENT WAS FAIR AND APPROPRIATE 95% agreed IMPROVING THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS 43% gave suggestions for improvement (clarifying the process, more efficient, too many learning outcomes
PERSONAL 94% learned positive new things about themselves 100% increased self confidence 95% positively surprised at the level of their own achievement
in terms of relevant work and life experience
Not having an academic background, the RPL helped and
encouraged me by showing me that I did have usable skills and helped give me the confidence to continue my education.
Highly recommend .... Just the process alone gave me so much
confidence and validation to my life experience, learning and development that I had achieved.
To have my life and learning officially recognised as valuable and
worthwhile meant the world to me!
The RPL process made me aware of unique skills and learning that
I otherwise would have dismissed as being insignificant. This in turn made me more confident and more convinced that I had the ability to study at this level.
PERSONAL IMPACT ďƒ˜ it was daunting in the beginning but I personally have found the whole
process has given me renewed confidence in myself and my own abilities as not only a student but also in my professional self
ďƒ˜ I genuinely felt for the first time in my life that all the varied experience
and learning that i had over the last number of years added up to something, had value.
ďƒ˜ ... made me realise how much I had achieved in my life but had taken for
granted...an excellent tool to make me realise and appreciate my value and my contribution to society
IMPACT ON KEY ACADEMIC SKILLS WRITING SKILLS 93% registered a positive impact
PRESENT MATERIAL IN A STRUCTURED MANNER 100% said positive impact (Selecting, Prioritising, Sequencing) INCREASED YOUR CAPACITY FOR SELF-ANALYSIS 98% Agreed ENHANCED YOUR CAPACITY FOR REFLECTION? 100% Agreed HELPED BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN YOUR LIVED EXPERIENCE AND ACADEMIC STUDY 100% Agreed POSITIVE IMPACT OF RPL PROCESS ON ASSIGNMENTS AND FINAL PROJECT 95% said yes!
The RPL helped me to remember projects that I had undertaken earlier in
my career and use those as a basis for some of my assignments.
It helps you enter the course with open eyes and gives you a good idea of
the level and expectation of what will be required. It also made me realise that my life experience was so much more than I thought and gave me that extra confidence in myself to continue
I intend to undertake a project in my community and built on work I had
been doing for the last number of years. I know the work in the community in the past was effective and good but I was self conscious about speaking about it. Now I am looking forward with confidence to the way this course will give me the structure to do this job well.
ACADEMIC SKILLS ďƒ˜ .. RPL process forces you to dig deep into the many corners of your life
experience, upon reflection and discussion of these experiences, I feel that you become a stronger candidate and more able than others that rely solely on academic teachings.
ďƒ˜ ....it highlighted to me my own experiences which I had forgotten about,
the process kind of brought information back to the forefront of my mind which is necessary for the course
OUTCOMES AND REFLECTIONS 1 EXPECT TO GRADUATE 92% had or fully expect to graduate GAINED EMPLOYMENT OR PROMOTION 37% attributed their improved employment circumstances to their engagement with 3rd level and in that regard their involvement with the RPL process IMPORTANCE OF RPL FOR ADULT EDUCATION; WILINGNESS TO RECOMMEND IT & ITS AVAILABILITY In each case 100% of Respondents felt that the availability of RPL was crucial to adult education; that they would be prepared to recommend it and that it should be available for ALL 3RD Level Programmes
OUTCOMES AND REFLECTIONS 2 FREE AT SOURCE 95% stated that they feLt this was crucial
LIKELIHOOD OF GAINING A DEGREE 82% stated that had it not been for the RPL process it would have been highly unlikely that they would have gained a BA degree MORE EMPLOYABLE 85% stated that they were more employable HIGHER QUALLITY OF VOLUNTEER AND COMMUNITY WORK 91% felt that the quality of their community and volunteering work was higher EXPAND BUSINESS 66% felt that they had the confidence to consider expanding business STARTED THINKING ABOUT A BUSINESS OR SOCIAL ENTERPRISE 66% had started thinking about a business or social enterprise
OUTCOMES AND REFLECTIONS 3 It is a vital component in adult education.
Over the last thirty years I have worked with many wise and gifted people in community and voluntary work who had great skill and experience but who had no qualifications. It was very frustrating to see their talent and experience passed over in favor of people who might have qualifications but without the experience or commitment. I think RPL addresses this unfairness and will help some great people. RPL with AIT and EQUAL Ireland far surpassed my highest expectations. From the moment of engagement to completion of the final project, it was a pleasure sometime very difficult to surmount but a pleasure... I found that it was only after completing the RPL process did I realized how much it meant to me. I found myself telling all my friends that I had got that recognition.
OUTCOMES AND REFLECTIONS 3 I now have high hopes for a successful career and life in the future. At
least I am giving myself the best chance I can. I would recommend anyone who, like me, never thought they would go to college for one reason or the other, to consider this as an alternative option, it might suit you. be honest with yourself, with the process, and the reviewer will give you honest feedback and advice.
I consider myself to be highly competent in a few different areas. I have a
diverse range of skilled and the RPL process has given me a chance to prove that an overlap of skillsets can greatly benefit society – Sometimes employers don’t appreciate this
I think everyone from primary through secondary school and at all levels
of life should occasionally engage in a process of structured reflection like this. It is very beneficial personally as well as professionally
ROLE OF EQUAL IRELAND – PROACTIVE & A BRIDGE BETWEEN ACADEMIA
AND THE INDIVIDUAL
IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY AND WORKPLACE MENTORS THE IMPACT OF THE PROCESS .......PERSONAL AND ACADEMIC ISSUES AROUND COST CLARITY OF LEARNING OUTCOMES
PEOPLE DEVELOPING PEOPLE THANK YOU!
Published on Sep 2, 2016
Conference proceedings from the Re-imagining Lifelong Learning Conference - December, 2015. Centre for Adult Learning & Professional Develop...