Investigating the Motivations and Barriers for Adult Part-time Study

The "Looking to Learn: Investigating the Motivations to Learn and the Barriers Faced by Adults Wishing to Undertake Part-Time Study" project, commissioned by the Scottish Executive Enterprise and Lifelong Learning team, was designed to enhance the evidence base regarding adult participation in learning. Literature on participation from 1990-2005 was reviewed, and a model for understanding participation decisions was developed.

Some of the main findings within the report are:

Barriers and motivations are not directly linked, and need to be treated differently. It may be important to conceptualise the two areas separately when developing policy to promote learning.
Vocational reasons for learning, such as improving or gaining employment, are consistently identified by learners as the dominant motivation for getting involved in learning.
In order to engage in learning, research suggests that individuals need some protection from financial risk, flexible programming of learning provision, peer and academic support, and a clear understanding of the benefits of learning.
Policy frameworks around learning often reflect traditional forms of education, with discrete types of provision for different groups of people and strong boundaries between them. It may well be beneficial for policymakers to address these frameworks.
There is a need for further research on how different factors interact with different groups of learners, and the mechanisms of that interaction.

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