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Facilitating self-directed learning in adult and vocational education

  • Study 1 (Chapter 2) is an empirical case study that concerns the nature of teaching–learning transactions that facilitate self-directed learning in vocational education and training of young adults in England. It addresses in part the concern that fostering the skills necessary for self-directed learning is an important endeavor of vocational education and training in many contexts internationally. However, there is a distinct lack of studies that investigate the extent to which facilitation of self-directed learning is present within vocational education and training in different contexts. An exploratory thematic qualitative analysis of inspectors’ comments within general Further Education college Ofsted inspection reports was conducted to investigate the balance of control of the learning process between teacher and learner within vocational education and training of young adults in England. A clear difference between outstanding and inadequate provision is reported. Inadequate provision was overwhelmingly teacher-directed. Outstanding provision reflected a collaborative relationship between teacher and learner in directing the learning process, despite the Ofsted framework not explicitly identifying the need for learner involvement in directing the learning process. The chapter offers insight into the understanding of how an effective balance of control of learning between teacher and learner may be realized in vocational education and training settings and highlights the need to consider the modulating role of contextual factors. Following the further research directions outlined in Chapter 2, study 2 (Chapter 3) is a theoretical chapter that addresses the issue that fostering adult learners’ competence to adapt appropriately to our ever-changing world is a primary concern of adult education. The purpose of the chapter is novel and examines whether the consideration of modes of learning (instruction, performance, and inquiry) could assist in the design of adult education that facilitates self-directed learning and enables learners to think and perform adaptively. The concept of modes of learning originated from the typology of Houle (1980). However, to date, no study has reached beyond this typology, especially concerning the potential of using modes of learning in the design of adult education. Specifically, an apparent oversight in adult learning theory is the foremost importance of the consideration of whether inquiry is included in the learning process: its inclusion potentially differentiates the purpose of instruction, the nature of learners’ performance, and the underlying epistemological positioning. To redress this concern, two models of modes of learning are proposed and contrasted. The reinforcing model of modes of learning (instruction, performance, without inquiry) promotes teacher-directed learning. A key consequence of employing this model in adult education is that learners may become accustomed to habitually reinforcing patterns of perceiving, thinking, judging, feeling, and acting—performance that may be rather inflexible and represented by a distinct lack of a perceived need to adapt to social contextual changes: a lack of motivation for self-directed learning. Rather, the adapting model of modes of learning (instruction, performance, with inquiry) may facilitate learners to be adaptive in their performance—by encouraging an enhanced learner sensitivity toward changing social contextual conditions: potentially enhancing learners’ motivation for self-directed learning. In line with the further research directions highlighted in Chapter 3, concerning the need to consider the nature and treatment of educational experiences that are conductive to learner growth and development, study 3 (Chapter 4) presents a systematic review of the experiential learning theory; a theory that perhaps cannot be uncoupled from self-directed learning theory, especially in regard to understanding the cognitive aspect of self-directed learning, which represents an important direction for further research on self-directed learning. D. A. Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning cycle is perhaps the most scholarly influential and cited model regarding experiential learning theory. However, a key issue in interpreting Kolb’s model concerns a lack of clarity regarding what constitutes a concrete experience, exactly. A systematic literature review was conducted in order to examine: what constitutes a concrete experience and what is the nature of treatment of a concrete experience in experiential learning? The analysis revealed five themes: learners are involved, active, participants; knowledge is situated in place and time; learners are exposed to novel experiences, which involves risk; learning demands inquiry to specific real-world problems; and critical reflection acts as a mediator of meaningful learning. Accordingly, a revision to Kolb’s model is proposed: experiential learning consists of contextually rich concrete experience, critical reflective observation, contextual-specific abstract conceptualization, and pragmatic active experimentation. Further empirical studies are required to test the model proposed. Finally, in Chapter 5 key findings of the studies are summarized, including that the models proposed in Chapters 3 and 4 (Figures 2 and 4, respectively) may be important considerations for further research on self-directed learning.
Author:Thomas Howard MorrisORCiD
URN (permanent link):urn:nbn:de:hbz:386-kluedo-55619
Advisor:Rolf Arnold, Matthias Rohs
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language of publication:English
Publication Date:2019/03/28
Year of Publication:2019
Publishing Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Granting Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Acceptance Date of the Thesis:2019/03/26
Date of the Publication (Server):2019/03/29
Tag:Adult learning; Concrete experience; Constructivism; Experiential learning; Humanism; Modes of learning; Pragmatism; Self-directed learning; Vocational education and training
Number of page:VII, 177
Faculties / Organisational entities:Fachbereich Sozialwissenschaften
DDC-Cassification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 370 Erziehung, Schul- und Bildungswesen
Licence (German):Creative Commons 4.0 - Namensnennung, nicht kommerziell, keine Bearbeitung (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)