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Title: Lifelong learning and the learning culture of a college flexible learning centre
Author: Adams, Evelyn May
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 5434
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2009
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This study aims to address a gap in knowledge about Further Education college flexible learning centres and their contribution to lifelong learning. Flexible learning centres were established as a response to the lifelong learning agenda of the 1990s and are now in the front line in responding to government initiatives to improve employability and foster social inclusion. Their tutors work in a contested area where the boundaries between teaching and supporting learning are blurred and the learning achieved may be undervalued by the Inspectorate and college authorities. This study adopts a qualitative approach of narrative inquiry to analyse the learning culture of the Flexible Learning Centre (FLC) of Hollypark College, focusing on 15 learners’ and 2 tutors’ narratives elicited by episodic interviews. The narratives of learning biographies and work biographies of learners and tutors are explored, supplemented by quantitative data from College databases. The study evaluates the ways in which the pedagogical approach of selfdirected study with tutor support appears to be successful for predominantly mature learners wishing to acquire mainly Information Technology (IT) skills which may enhance their chances of employment or benefit them in other ways. Building on recent work on learning cultures, social capital, well-being and identity theories, the study gives a voice to these learners who are so far unheard and despite the demographic population shift to increasing numbers of older people, are not the focus of current government policy initiatives. Focus on employability which is equated with acquiring skills is seen as too narrow to encompass the wider needs met and benefits accrued by attending the FLC. The findings are that this FLC’s approach is particularly effective for older learners in general in acquiring IT skills. Those made redundant, the retired, those in work and carers who may have been out of the workforce for some time may flourish in this learning environment where mainstream courses cannot offer equivalent flexibility and opportunities to structure their own learning. The learning culture of the Flexible Learning Centre provides a space where such learners may not only acquire IT skills but may also increase their social and cultural capital while opening up new horizons for their future. Tutor/learner relationships are of key importance and the learning taking place should be re-evaluated by the Inspectorate and government alike.
Supervisor: Morgan-Klein, Brenda Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Lifelong Learning ; Learning Culture ; Flexible learning centre ; Further Education ; IT skills ; Open learning ; Continuing education ; Study skills ; Tutors and tutoring ; Teacher-student relationships