An investigation into adult learners and learning : powerful learners and learning in three sites of adult education
This qualitative study explores the outcomes of learning by adult learners in three different contexts (sites) of adult education. My particular concern is with adult learners who are often socially excluded in and by formal learning contexts hence the sites of learning for my empirical research are (a) an Adult Basic Education Centre, (b) a Family Learning Centre and (c) a Nacro Centre. I use a range of data collection methods including keeping a journal, undertaking observations and fifteen in-depth interviews. I develop a framework around ideas of agency, power and structure, factors which impact upon adult education learners and learning, through existing research and literature from writers such as Bourdieu, Freire, Jarvis and Brookfield. The framework defines a concept of \(powerful\) \(learners\) \(and\) \(learning\) - learning which enables learners to acquire social and cultural capital and to make real choices about their lives. I use this framework to analyse not only my empirical data but also the government policies from the last twenty five years which support adult education. My findings conclude that learning opportunities need to be wide ranging, that few government polices lead to \(powerful\) \(learning\), and that only one of the learners within my case studies can be described as ‘\(liberated\)’.