Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Adult Learning; Case Studies; Community Education; Educational Attainment; Educational Benefits; Educational Needs; Educational Policy; Educational Trends; Enrollment Influences; Foreign Countries; Informal Education; Lifelong Learning; Literature Reviews; National Surveys; Needs Assessment; Open Education; Participation; Policy Formation; Trend Analysis.

Miflin, B. (2004). Adult learning, self-directed learning and problem-based learning: Deconstructing the connections. Teaching in Higher Education, 9(1), 43-53.


This paper reports a critique of the literature of problem-based learning (PBL) in medical education. The objective of the review was to examine the various meanings that medical teachers attribute to concepts of adult learning and self-directed learning within the context of PBL. The critique found that there are assumptions about the meanings of adult learning and self-directed learning that are accepted uncritically as appropriate to PBL. The nature and the origins of teachers' conceptions of these ideas are explored in an attempt to clarify the meanings of the concepts and the relationships amongst them. An alternative meaning for self-directed learning in PBL curricula is proposed.
KEY WORDS: Teaching Methods; Medical Education; Problem Based Learning; Independent Study; Adult Learning; Teacher Attitudes; Foreign Countries; Cognitive Style.

Pearce, C. (2001). Homeless women, street smarts, and their survival. PAACE Journal of Adult Learning, 10, 19-30.


A qualitative study of four homeless women depicted their self-perceptions, instability of relationships, decision-making processes, and resourcefulness. Their informal learning included situational and intentional learning applied to survival.
KEY WORDS: Females; Homeless People; Informal Education; Women's Education.
Regan, J. A. (2003). Motivating students towards self-directed learning. Nurse Education Today, 23(8), 593-599.
Data from focus groups of 12 nursing students and 8 tutors and survey responses from 97 students and 18 tutors were analyzed. Results revealed a wide range of factors motivated students to be self-directed. All students believed good lectures were highly motivating. Students desired clear guidance and feedback.
KEY WORDS: Educational Strategies; Higher Education; Nursing Education; Student Attitudes; Student Motivation; Teacher Attitudes.
Rhee, K. S. (2003). Self-directed learning: To be aware or not to be aware. Journal of Management Education, 27(5), 568-589.
Critical incident interviews and questionnaire were used to measure behavior change in 25 business students who engaged in repeated reflections on self-directed change and 20 controls. Both groups improved managerial skills. Those in the reflection group were more aware of their own change but overestimated the extent of it.
KEY WORDS: Behavior Change; Business Administration Education; Estimation (Mathematics); Higher Education; Self Evaluation (Individuals).

Selwyn, N., Gorard, S., & Furlong, J. (2006). Adults' use of computers and the Internet for self-education. Studies in the Education of Adults, 38(2), 141-159.


This study examines the use of information technologies for self-education and considers how these technologies can facilitate and suppress learning opportunities among adult learners. Based on data from a study of adults in the western part of England and South Wales, the paper explores how computers and the Internet are used in adult self-education. The study concludes that some adults use computers and the Internet for self-education in an extensive and elaborate way, but it seems that the use of information technologies reinforces rather than initiates self-education.
KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Internet; Educational Technology; Social Stratification; Information Technology; Informal Education; Computer Uses in Education; Adults; Independent Study; England; Wales.

Smedley, A. (2007). The self-directed learning readiness of first year bachelor of nursing students. Journal of Research in Nursing, 12(4), 373-385.


This study examines self-directed learning within Australian nursing education. Most adult education and tertiary educational institutions now offer components of their nursing education using self-directed learning methods, blended mode or flexible delivery, clinical learning logs and independent learning contracts or problem based packages. This paper reports on research that evaluated the self-directed learning readiness of undergraduate student in their first year of the Bachelor of Nursing within a private institution in Australia. These findings were compared to research undertaken with beginning degree students in a large public university. Similar results in both institutions emphasize the need for curriculum developers to include strategies that promote self-directed learning skills.
KEY WORDS: Self-directed Learning; Australia; Nurse Education; Students; Public University.

Stipek, D., & Byler, P. (2004). The early childhood classroom observation measure. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19(3), 375-397.


This study assesses a new measure of early childhood classroom practice in 127 kindergarten- and first-grade classrooms. The measure was designed to be appropriate for classrooms serving children from the age of 4-7 years. It assesses the nature and quality of instruction as well as the social climate and management of the classroom. Two separate scales assess the degree to which constructivist, child-centered and the degree to which didactic, teacher-centered instructional practices are implemented. Findings indicate that the measure produced reliable scores and meaningful, predictable associations were found between scores on the observation measure, on the one hand, and teachers' self-reported practices, teaching goals, relationships with children, and perceptions of children's ability to be self-directed learners, on the other.
KEY WORDS: Teaching Methods; Social Environment; Observation; Constructivism (Learning); Children; Gender Differences; Teacher Attitudes.

Taylor, K. (2006). Autonomy and self-directed learning : A developmental journey. In C. H. Hoare (Ed.), Handbook of adult development and learning (pp. 196-218). Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.


This chapter explores functions of self-directed learning related to work in a society that is characterized by continuous, pervasive and unavoidable changes. The chapter is divided in three sections that explicate theory, research and practice of self-directed learning. The author underlines the important role of self-directed learning and suggests further explorations of self-directed learning adult learning as well as in relation to adult development.
KEY WORDS: Self-directed Learning; Change; Adulthood; Psychological Aspects; Learning; Adult Learning; Adult Psychology.

Winning, T., Skinner, V., Townsend, G., Drummond, B., & Kieser, J. (2004). Developing problem-based learning packages internationally: An evaluation of outcomes. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 41(2), 125-144.


Due to mounting pressure on higher education resources, interested staff in Australasian dental schools formed a collaborative network to support the effective implementation of problem-based learning (PBL). Cross-institutional teams sourced patient cases and developed and evaluated PBL packages intended to be adaptable for use across curricula and year levels. Packages were designed to support PBL aims, i.e. to provide a motivating learning environment, to foster integrated learning, to encourage a systematic approach to patient management and to develop self-directed learning skills. This paper describes the collaborative process and reports on a cross-institutional study (using surveys and focus groups) to investigate students' experiences of the PBL packages. The findings show that students in different year levels and institutions perceived that the packages provided a context compatible with PBL aims, i.e. one that was motivating and supported integrated, independent learning. This collaborative approach to developing and evaluating PBL packages was valuable in effectively utilizing resources and expertise across Australasian dental schools.
KEY WORDS: Patients; Resources; Learning; Focus Groups; Dentistry; Dental Schools; Problem Based Learning.

Yeung, E., Au-Yeung, S., Chiu, T., Mok, N., & Lai, P. (2003). Problem design in problem-based learning: Evaluating students' learning and self-directed learning practice. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 40(3), 237-244.


Discusses problem-based learning and describes a study at Hong Kong Polytechnic University that compared learning issues generated by students with the objectives set by teaching staff, and explored students' self-directed learning practice and the ability to search for information in meeting the learning objectives.
KEY WORDS: Comparative Analysis; Educational Objectives; Evaluation Methods; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Independent Study; Information Seeking; Instructional Design; Problem Based Learning; Student Educational Objectives.




Section 3.6

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition



Aarts, S., Blower, D., Burke, R., Conlin, E., Howell, B., Howorth, C. E., et al. (1999). A slice of the iceberg: Cross-Canada study of prior learning assessment and recognition. Ottawa: Human Resources Development Canada.


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is a sound academic practice that contributes to adult learning by linking formal and informal learning. However, it has not been widely accepted by Canadian educational institutions. In 1996, a consortium of seven colleges and an independent PLAR consultant began a study to create a comprehensive database of PLAR learners and their characteristics, identify PLAR activities in participating institutions, analyze the effects of PLAR on students and the institutions, and compare the costs of credits achieved through PLAR with those produced through traditional course delivery. Study results found that: the average course grades of PLAR learners are as high or higher than those of traditional students in the same programs; PLAR strengthened adult learners' confidence and represented important efficiencies for part-time adult learners by shortening their programs; the low number of PLAR learners and programs signal that delivery of PLAR has not been economical for some institutions; early benefits from PLAR training within institutions diminished over time; and there is a need for greater public awareness of PLAR. The report concludes with a series of recommendations addressing institutions, public policy makers, adult learners, and workplaces.
KEY WORDS: Educational Assessment; Educational Planning; Foreign Countries; Government School Relationship; Higher Education; Nontraditional Students; Program Implementation; Student Characteristics.

Andersson, P., & Fejes, A. (2005). Recognition of prior learning as a technique for fabricating the adult learner: A genealogical analysis on Swedish adult education policy. Journal of Education Policy, 20(5), 595-613.


This article focuses on the recognition of prior learning and the figure of thought it represents in Swedish policy on adult education. It can be seen as a technique for governing the adult learner and a way of fabricating the subject. We are tracing this thought back in time to see how it has changed and what it consists of. The material analysed consists of Swedish official documents published between 1948 and 2004. We draw on two concepts from the Foucauldian toolbox: genealogy and governmentality. The result shows that this technique for governing and fabricating the adult subject is not new. It has been present during all periods analysed. However, there is a difference in how the ideas of competence and knowledge are stressed. Today the focus is on the subject's specific experience, which means competence. You are constructed as an adult with experiences that are to be evaluated. During the 1960s and 1970s the focus was rather on general experience. There was also discussion concerning the subject's ability to study. During the 1950s this figure of thought focused on ability was dominant. Those with the talent/ability to study were to be accepted for adult education.
KEY WORDS: Prior Learning; Adult Education; Genealogy; Adult Students; Lifelong Learning; Educational Policy; Foreign Countries; Sweden
Andersson, P., & Harris, J. (2006). Re-theorising the recognition of prior learning. Leicester, UK: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.
This book builds on an earlier publication (Fraser, W. 1995. 'Learning from Experience: Empowerment or Incorporation. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education), and perceived recognition of prior learning as an educational response to the need to widen participation in education and training for economic advancement and social inclusion. The social meanings of recognition of prior learning have different configurations depending on historical, cultural, economic and political forces in different locations. One constant is the reliance on the widely pervasive educational philosophies of experiential learning: constructivism and progressivism. This book challenges the orthodoxy of experiential learning and the particular readings of knowledge, pedagogy, learning, identity and power, which it privileges. It does this by introducing different theoretical resources to recognition of prior learning and drawing on experiences of recognition of prior learning in the UK, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, Canada and the USA.
KEY WORDS: Monograph; Recognition of Prior Learning; Assessment; Knowledge; Curriculum; Theory; Experiential Learning; UK; South Africa; Australia; Sweden; Canada; USA.

Armsby, P., Costley, C., & Garnett, J. (2006). The legitimisation of knowledge: A work-based learning perspective of APEL. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 25(4), 369-383.


Based on an extensive literature review, the authors of this study demonstrate that accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) is fairly underutilized in higher education. The authors of this study argue that the APEL challenges the traditional university monopoly of knowledge as well as other established processes and social constructions. This study presents the perspectives of five tutors who support the APEL and three short case studies that illustrate the APEL process. This study devotes particular attention to work-based learning that uses the APEL process in allowing people to gain access to higher education.
KEY WORDS: Social Influences; Experiential Learning; Higher Education; Prior Learning; Access to Education; Education Work Relationship; Foreign Countries; Work Experience Programs; United Kingdom.

Austin, Z., & Dean, M. R. (2006). Bridging education for foreign-trained professionals: The international pharmacy graduate (IPQ) program in Canada. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(1), 19-32.


Demand for well-qualified health care professionals (including pharmacists) is projected to increase over the next 10 to 20 years. In many jurisdictions, immigration will become an increasingly important human resource to replace aging, retiring workers and drive ongoing economic prosperity and growth. Higher education has been an underutilized resource for foreign-trained professionals seeking re-qualification. Bridging education provides a structured system for continuing professional development of professionals, linked to existing curriculum, assessments and standards in higher education. The International Pharmacy Graduate Program in Ontario (Canada) has developed a model that has been recognized by the provincial government as a "best-practice" for bridging education. This model consists of four elements: prior learning assessment and recognition; university-benchmarked skills enhancement education; mentorship; and asynchronous learning opportunities. Success rates on licensing examinations for those completing all components of the program currently exceed 95%, indicating the value of bridging education.
KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Prior Learning; Higher Education; Pharmacy; Licensing Examinations (Professions); Professional Development; Graduate Study; Mentors; Benchmarking Canada; Prior Learning Assessment.

Bateman, A., & Knight, B. (2003). Giving credit: A review of RPL and credit transfer in the vocational education and training sector, 1995-2001. Leabrook (Australia): National Centre for Vocational Education Research.


Recognition of prior learning (RPL) and credit transfer policy in Australia from 1995 to 2001 was examined through a review of Australian research discourse and an analysis of national data for the period. Selected findings were as follows: (1) RPL and credit transfer are most relevant to vocational education and training (VET) clients seeking full qualifications but are of negligible importance to students enrolled in non-award and subject-only programs; (2) among the factors that affect RPL and credit transfer rates, age appears to be the second in importance after the Australian Qualifications Framework category of the program undertaken; and (3) providers are offering RPL and credit transfer in different amounts. The following recommendations were offered to policymakers: (1) promote the term "assessment" to ensure that all purposes of assessment, including RPL, are clearly placed within the framework; (2) view RPL as a purpose of assessment with an important role in the training cycle, especially as a precursor to training; (3) investigate further analysis of the proposed benefits and barriers to RPL; and (4) conduct qualitative research to determine whether the current services offered by VET providers recognize the full extent of RPL and credit transfer entitlements among VET students.

KEY WORDS: Credits; Definitions; Educational Certificates; Educational Policy; Educational Trends; Evaluation Criteria; Foreign Countries; Influences; Literature Reviews; Postsecondary Education; Prerequisites; Prior Learning; Recognition (Achievement); Secondary Education; Student Certification; Student Evaluation; Transfer Policy; Trend Analysis; Vocational Education.

Berge, Z. L., Muilenberg, L. Y., & Van Haneghan, J. (2002). Barriers to distance education and training: Survey results. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 3(4), 409-418.


Discusses results of a survey that was conducted to understand and study the barriers to distance training and education. Considered work place; job function; type of delivery system used; individual expertise regarding distance education; the stage of the respondent's organization; and the subject area in which the respondent primarily worked.
KEY WORDS: Distance Education; Prior Learning; Surveys; Training Methods; Work Environment.

Bjornavold, J. (2000). Making learning visible: Identification, assessment and recognition of non-formal learning in Europe. Thessaloniki: CEDEFOP.


Policies and practices in the areas of identification, assessment, and recognition of nonformal learning in the European Union (EU) were reviewed. The review focused on national and EU-level experiences regarding the following areas and issues: recognition of the contextual nature of learning; identification of methodological requirements for assessing and recognizing nonformal learning; and institutional and political requirements. Special attention was paid to the following experiences: (1) the German and Austrian dual system approach; (2) the Mediterranean approach of viewing methodologies for assessment and recognition of nonformal learning as tools for quality improvement; (3) the diverse approaches of the Nordic countries; (4) the National Vocational Qualifications approach in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands; (5) the "opening up" of diplomas and certificates in France and Belgium; and (6) EU-level initiatives. The review established that, during the past few years, most EU member states have begun emphasizing the crucial role of learning that occurs outside of and in addition to formal education and training. This emphasis has led to an increasing number of political and practical initiatives that have in turn gradually shifted the issue from the stage of pure experimentation to that of early implementation.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Nonformal Education; Nontraditional Education; Open Education; Policy Formation; Postsecondary Education; Prior Learning; School Business Relationship; Student Evaluation; Student Experience; Vocational Education; Work Experience.

Blinkhorn, K. W. (1999). Prior learning assessment: An investigation of nonsponsored learning for college credits. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Toronto.


Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) allows students to obtain credits toward their formal education for nonsponsored learning (i.e., material they have learned through non-traditional settings such as work experience or the home). Within the PLA framework, community colleges have implemented the portfolio development process as a way to assess prior learning--students organize and present nonsponsored learning in a document that satisfies the requirements of a college course. This exploratory case study examines how learners at Ontario Community Colleges (Canada) make meaning of their prior learning. In this study, data from interviews, a sample of portfolios, and classroom observations were initially analyzed according to five conceptual interpretations: (1) perception of learning; (2) learning style; (3) metacognitive abilities; (4) cognitive development; and (5) learners' needs. The study sample consisted of four students who were taking a community college portfolio development course, two students who had taken the portfolio development course and had successfully challenged a number of college credits, and three students who were eligible for the PLA process but did not take this option. The findings indicated that all of the students made meaning from their prior learning and applied it to their college studies.
KEY WORDS: Alternative Assessment; Community Colleges; Employment Experience; Evaluation Methods; Nontraditional Education; Portfolios (Background Materials); Prior Learning; Student Experience; Two Year Colleges.
Borden-Ballard, E. M., & Sinclair, G. W. (2001). Mentorship & the development of rural leadership. In J. C. Montgomery & A. D. Kitchenham (Eds.), Issues affecting rural communities (II). Proceedings of the International Conference on Rural Communities & Identities in the Global Millennium. Nanaimo, May 1-5, 2000) (pp. 354-364). Nanaimo, BC: Malaspina University-College.
Drawing on the experience of a 21-year mentoring relationship between two rural school administrators, this paper describes 11 components of an effective working mentorship. These elements are: establishing the relationship, the communications process, setting goals, determining skills, time commitment, broadening the protégé's horizons, additional benefits to the protégé, types and extent of interventions, leadership versus teamwork, linkages and connections, and benefits to the organization. This experience reflects current trends in the business community in which job-embedded learning, which includes mentoring, is considered to be a new paradigm for staff development. There is a need to develop more formal recognition of mentoring as a tool or avenue within a rural administrator's professional development program. Mentoring presents educators with an alternative to workshop-based professional development and other more traditional inservice learning programs and is more relevant to the situation of rural administrators and educators. The real challenge, however, is to find the way by which this entire activity can be incorporated into the academic accreditation process in a manner similar to that utilized by proponents of prior learning assessment.
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