A model of learning : an investigation of technicians' approaches to open learning
The work arose from an applied research project commissioned by the Manpower Services Commission. The aim of the project was to produce guidelines for effective learning in the Open Tech, based on a thoroughly researched understanding of open learning at technician level. A review of the literature led to the proposal that the research should examine technicians' experiences of learning from a phenomenological perspective, with particular attention to the intentions and meanings underlying their approaches. In response to this proposal, a metatheory was formulated to establish the assumptions on which the research should be based. The metatheory incorporated a view of man as a natural learner, implying that the research should seek to understand why natural learning behaviour is inhibited. The view of science specified that the outcome of the research should be the development of an appropriate and useful model of technician open learning. The development of this model was 'grounded' in the empirical study of British Telecom open learning students. The study incorporated both an experimental learning, task and focused interviewing. Notable dimensions emerging from learners' accounts of their experiences of learning included: orientations to study, conceptions of learning, and locus of control in learning. Relationships between these dimensions were explored and a series of 'procedural steps' was proposed, which outlines the key processes necessary to effective learning in this context. This empirical analysis led to the formulation of the 'multi-dimensional' model of learning, which suggests that meaningful learning arises as a learner interacts with a task in pursuit of his own learning intentions. On the basis of this definition it was possible to identify the qualities of meaningful learning, and to recognise the equivalence of the notions of meaningful, effective and autonomous learning. The model was tested and elaborated, using data from a further study of a different group of technicians undertaking open learning courses. Finally, the practical applications of the model for the Open Tech were explored.