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Title: Transformative and reciprocal learning experiences in previously 'hard to reach' young adult learners' initial engagement in learning : a case study
Author: Wagg, Paul
Awarding Body: Staffordshire University
Current Institution: Staffordshire University
Date of Award: 2013
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The focus of this thesis is on an exploration of reciprocal processes of learning experienced by previously ‘hard to reach’ young adult learners, engaged on a Prince’s Trust course at one college of further education. The research addresses the question: What learning processes influence the transformative learning experiences of ‘hard to reach’ young adult learners? The theoretical framework is comprised of four learning perspectives: transformative learning (Mezirow 2000), reflective thinking (Dewey 1933), critical thinking (Glaser 1941, Brookfield 1987) and self-efficacy (Bandura 1986). An understanding was sought of how these may, or may not have reciprocity, at the micro and experiential levels of learning. An interpretivist stance was adopted, using semi-structured interviews to collect experiential information. Participants were interviewed at their first point of engagement on a 12 week course and again in the final week. A constant comparative analysis produced emergent propositions that were then considered for indications of reciprocity in learning processes. The findings suggested that ‘hard to reach’ young adult learners within the context of this study were in a process of change even prior to engagement with the course, but that this change was not fully consistent with Mezirow’s categorisation of transformative learning. Processes of reciprocity were evident for reflective thinking, critical thinking and self-efficacy. However, the nature of the processes was too complex to attribute to transformative learning, and the theory itself was not substantial enough to account for the learning that had taken place. An emergent design enabled a flexible response so that a later interviewing of course tutors was conducted, in order to access and triangulate their experiences with the findings from the students. The conclusions of this thesis are that the movement into engaging in learning does not rest on reflecting on discontent alone but necessarily involves the invoking of memories of previous experiences of self-efficacy. Changes in students could not be equated with transformative learning, but there were indications of reciprocal processes of reflective thinking, critical thinking and self-efficacy. Learning was supported by an attitude of respect and valuing of the students by the tutors, suggesting that the context for learning itself had changed in terms of tutor/adult learner relationships being on a more equal footing, so that a more fulfilling experience of personal potential was gained. This thesis adds to the learning knowledge base through providing a focus on the importance of the particular quality of the tutor/student learning relationship that is necessary for previously ‘hard to reach’ young adult learners to engage in and sustain learning, and the complexity of the pre- engagement in learning process. It also indicates a gathering or clustering of memories of previous experiences of self-efficacy as being a motivating factor that stimulates an impetus for enquiry into learning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L300 Sociology