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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5334

Title: Adult returners: Action research methodology as an intervention tool to improve the learning experience of adult returners to formal education
Authors: O'Donnell, Kathryn Mary
Advisors: Thomas, L
Publication Date: 2000
Publisher: Brunel University School of Sport and Education PhD Theses
Abstract: The present Labour Government is committed to "the era of learning through life". However, as the Kennedy Report (1997) into Widening Participation in Further Education argues, education is still an exclusion zone for an important minority of the population including women. If present policy, as set out in The Learning Age (DfEE, 1998a) is to work, further education colleges have an important role to play, becoming the vehicle for moving people "from unemployment through training to employment" (Smith, 1997:4). The present study initially sought to establish the nature of this role by exploring the impact of the current political climate on lifelong learning and the way in which local education authorities have interpreted the policy directives in this area. A detailed Institution Focused Study of one Local Education Authority and one Further Education College revealed a possible mismatch between provision and the needs of the population targeted under the lifelong learning initiative. It concluded that the initiative is likely to present a considerable challenge for institutions which, because of market forces, are increasingly viewing their client population in terms of funding units and academic output (Jarvis, 1998:220). The study subsequently adapted an action research approach to explore possible ways of meeting the lifelong learning challenge in the case of one group of female adults making a return to further education. A variety of data collection methods, including questionnaires, focus group techniques and reflective journals were employed throughout the two action cycles to record, in detail, the effects of the actions taken on students, lecturers, policy and practice. These provide the basis for an account of the characteristics of provision that could justifiably be described as a lifelong learning opportunity for adult females returning to education. The study concludes that an action research approach has the capacity for positively affecting lecturers' experience of teaching and the students' experience of learning within a further education environment.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Education and awarded by Brunel University.
URI: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5334
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School of Sport and Education Theses

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