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Title: Values, voice and venerability : an exploration of later-life learners' perceptions of quality in informal class-based learning
Author: Potter, Alan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 8004
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This empirical inquiry explored the views of older adult learners with regards to the factors contributing to ‘quality’ in informal, class-based later-life learning. Growing evidence from research in fields such as health, psychology and neuroscience, have identified learning as contributing to the wellbeing of those in later life as well as offering protection from cognitive decline (Field, 2009; Frith, 2011). However, there has been little research focusing on the qualities of informal later-life learning that are valued by older learners. Using a critical geragogical lens, whereby the perceptions of later-life learners are privileged, I adopted a mixed-method approach to elicit the views of later-life learners. Using a three-phase sequential methodology involving an exploratory Feasibility Study, followed by the main study comprising a series of focus groups, a follow-up questionnaire and participant observations, I explored older learners’ experiences of perceived ‘quality’ learning environments in which access to wider benefits could, potentially, be maximised. In doing so, a ‘Quality Cirque’ theoretical model for quality informal later-life learning emerged. The study identified three key stakeholders in the provision of ‘quality’ informal later-life learning – the tutor or facilitator, the learning organisation and the learners themselves. Twenty-eight specific characteristics of quality associated with these stakeholders were identified, clustered around four dimensions of learning. The consistency and strength of the participant responses highlighted how informal learning could, and should, be enhanced through the adoption of simple strategies to enable and enhance the quality of later-life learning. As a case study, it offers potential, vicarious significance for other providers, suggests some key messages regarding later-life learning practices for policy makers and furthermore points to the need for future research that is focused on developing quality provision in informal, class-based later-life learning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available