Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Education Work Relationship; Employment Practices; Microeconomics; Personnel Selection; Recruitment; Economic Theory; Work and Learning.

Velde, C., & Cooper, T. (2000). Students' perspectives of workplace learning and training in vocational education. Education + Training, 42(2), 83-92.


Interviews with 30 student apprentices, 12 vocational educators, and 15 employers indicated that (1) students were motivated by hands-on experiences and a head start on employment; (2) all groups felt the program developed social skills and work attitudes; and (3) teachers perceived problems not observed by students in school-to-work transitions and the status of vocational education.
KEY WORDS: Apprenticeships; Cognitive Style; Motivation; Student Attitudes; Vocational Education; Work Attitudes.

Warren, J. R. L., Jennifer C. (2003). The impact of adolescent employment on high school dropout: Differences by individual and labor-market characteristics. Social Science Research, 32(1), 98-128.


The authors discuss five questions. First, how do individual- and labor-market-level factors influence high school students' paid employment behaviors? Second, to what extent is student employment associated with high school dropout net of these factors? Third, does the association between student employment and dropout vary by students' race/ethnicity and other socio-demographic characteristics? Fourth, to what extent do local labor-market opportunities influence high school dropout? Fifth, does the association between student employment and high school dropout vary by local labor-market circumstances? Using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study, we find that many individual and labor-market-level factors influence students' employment behaviors; that adolescent employment and dropout are strongly associated, even after adjusting for individual- and labor-market-level factors; that this association doesn't vary by individual-level attributes; and that this association doesn't vary across labor markets. Described are 2 perspectives on the mechanisms linking adolescent employment and dropout.
KEY WORDS: Economy; Employment Status; High School Students; Individual Differences; School Dropouts; Demographic Characteristics; Racial and Ethnic Differences; Regional Differences.



Section 4.9

Work and Learning through the Adult Life Course




Antikainen, A., & Komonen, K. (2003). Biography, life course, and the sociology of education. In C. A. Torres & A. Antikainen (Eds.), The international handbook on the sociology of education: An international assessment of new research and theory (pp. 143-159). Lanham US: Rowman & Littlefields.


After the publication of Florian Znaniecki's and William Thomas's, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918-20), many researchers of the Chicago School studied the 'social mosaic' of the changing American society by using a variety of methods, such as participant observation, open or semistructured interviews and life history. In the decades following World War II, the life history method lost much of its prominence. It was not until the 1980s that life history returned to the sociology of education, this time in the context of the growing interest in the biographical method in sociology in general.
KEY WORDS: Life History; Biographies; Sociological Research; Sociology of Education; Research Methodology; History of Sociology.

Aro, M. R., Risto; Lahti, Kati; Olkinuora, Erkki. (2005). Education or learning on the job? Generational differences of opinions. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 24(6), 459-474.


In this article, we are interested in what kind of opinions people belonging to different generations have on work experience and formal education. Mannheim's theory on generations is used as a general frame of reference. The questions asked in the article are: is education appreciated more by young people who have been able to participate in it on a large scale, or by older people to whom further education often remained an unfulfilled dream? Do older people put more emphasis on work experience, because on average they have much more work experience than schooling? The starting point of the article is that the changing educational circumstances have arguably shaped the thinking and world view of generations, and their opinions on formal education and work experience. In addition, the value of education as a currency on the labour market has changed continuously.
KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Opinions; Work Experience; Labor Market; Education; Work Relationship; Age Differences; Work Attitudes; Educational Attitudes; Educational Attainment.

Bates, M. J., & Norton, S. (2002). Educating Rita: An examination of the female life course and its influence on women's participation in higher education. New Horizons in Adult Education, 16(3), 4 - 12.


The occurrence of 7 life events within the last 2 years and the top three 3 reasons for return were identified by 61 women returning to higher education. Motivations clustered in the following categories: financial improvement, personal goals and aspirations, self-fulfilment/self-esteem, and family considerations.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Females; Higher Education; Life Events; Motivation; Participation; Reentry Students.
Carroll, T. (2007). Curious conceptions: Learning to be old. Studies in Continuing Education, 29(1), 71-84.
Western societies have become increasingly concerned as 'baby-boomers' begin to retire, with the potential for a depleted workforce. The author argues that society and the individuals within it learn the 'truths' of being aged or old through the normalizing of gerontological, demographic and economic knowledge, where 'the old' are marginalized as the unimaginable, dependent other. Research on women experiencing retirement is used in the exploration of how such learning relates to women who have been constituted as 'other' all our lives. To counter such learning, the author suggests we develop what Foucault calls curiosity, not to uncover 'the truth' but as 'a readiness to find what surrounds us strange and odd; a certain determination to throw off familiar ways of thought and to look at the same things in a different way' (M. Foucault, The masked philosopher, in: P. Rabinow (Ed.) Michel Foucault: ethics, subjectivity and truth (vol. 1) (London, Penguin, 1994/1980), p. 325). Through the deployment of such curiosity we may be able to unlearn how we have been constituted as old women.
KEY WORDS: Aging; Older Adults; Foucault; Norms; Gerontology; Baby Boomers; Unlearning.

Charness, N., & Czaja, S. (2006). Older worker training: What we know and don't know. Washington, DC: AARP, Public Policy Institute.


This report summarizes the literature on the ability of older adults to learn new skills and highlights training issues that impact on older workers' ability to engage in productive employment. The report includes a review of the gerontological, psychological, and human factors engineering literature. Results indicate that older adults are able to learn new skills, even ones involving new technology but are typically not as quick to acquire those skills when compared to younger adults. Evidence suggesting age differences in actual work performance is limited. However, explosive developments in technology and the shift from production work to information management and service sector environments means that training and retraining are critical issues for all workers, particularly for older adults. According to the authors, aging results in changes that could affect learning, such as declines in vision and hearing and changes in memory, attention, and processing speed. It is likely that a greater percentage of the pre-boomer generation will stay in the labour force or will return from retirement to perform part-time work to supplement their incomes. How well these (and future) older workers adapt to the demands of the increasingly competitive labour environment impact the productivity of the economy as well as the well-being of individuals.
KEY WORDS: Older Workers; Life Course; Training; Lifelong Learning; Aging; Knowledge-Based Economy; Information Technology.

Cooke, M. (2006). "When I wake up I dream of electricity": The lives, aspirations and 'needs' of adult ESOL learners. Linguistics and Education, 17(1), 56-73.


This study examines: 1) the aspirations of Adult ESOL learners and what social and institutional factors constrain their learning activities; and 2) the consequent implications for Adult ESOL practitioners. The paper reports on 76 interviews with adult migrants learning English in the UK. Four of the interviews are analyzed in detail using a case study methodology. Findings suggest that despite high levels of motivation, investment and individual 'agency' of all four, the constraining effects of structural and institutional factors must also be taken into account when planning for the educational needs of migrants. The study also looked at classrooms in which the learners were studying and suggests that the methods employed for attempting to meet their needs, such as individualised learning plans, do not reflect the real life experiences of the learners.
KEY WORDS: Adult Learners; Adult Education; Continuing Learning; ESL; Migrant Workers; UK; Barriers; Literacy; Case Study; Policy.

Dominicâe, P. (2000). Learning from our lives: Using educational biographies with adults (1st ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


This nine-chapter book, written in Europe by a French-speaking Swiss educator, explores the rationale for using educational biography approaches in adult education and presents examples that illustrate various uses of these life history activities. Chapter 1 provides an introduction and overview of educational biography, and Chapter 2 describes practitioners' experience with major educational biography approaches, including written and oral narratives. Chapter 3 presents a review of the literature, concentrating on examples of educational biography approaches that occur in particular contexts and address particular themes. Chapter 4 explores how adults educate themselves in various settings, including family and school. The main theme of Chapter 5 is adults' ways of thinking as men and women functioning in family, school, and workplace, and the influence of various subcultures. Learners' needs and motivations are the focus of Chapter 6, and, in Chapter 7, the main theme is helping learners name their experiences and their world and deal with issues that emerge from this interpretation. Chapter 8 addresses how educational biography can help adult learners gain a new understanding of evaluation by examining the power relationships that influence education and educational goals, the uses of evaluation decisions, and formative evaluation as interpretation. Chapter 9 concludes with a discussion of ways of creating conditions for successful adult learning based on the main themes raised by the educational biography approach.
KEY WORDS: Adult Basic Education; Adult Education; Adult Learning; Adult Students; Autobiographies; Biographical Inventories; Empowerment; Family Influence; Informal Education; Learning Theories; Personal Narratives; Postsecondary Education; Self Disclosure (Individuals); Self Evaluation (Individuals); Self Expression; Social Influences; Student Motivation; Teaching Methods; Writing Instruction.

Drentea, P. (2002). Retirement and mental health. Journal of Aging & Health, 14(2), 167-194.


Examines whether retirement is associated with mental health and how daily pursuits mediate this association. It tests 2 perspectives from the sociology of work and mental health. Using data from 2 surveys, the 1995 Aging, Status, and Sense of Control and the 1987-1988 National Survey of Families and Households, regression analysis was used to examine retirement, activities, and well-being. In support of the view that work is alienating and retirement liberating, retirees experienced less anxiety and distress and higher positive affect. Retirees' lower anxiety and distress were explained by activity characteristics. In support of the view that work is empowering and retirement demoralizing, retirement is associated with lower sense of control in both data sets. Retirement was not associated with depressive symptomatology. Suggestions for creating opportunities that enhance well-being are discussed.
KEY WORDS: Interpersonal Interaction; Mental Health; Retirement; Well Being.

Elman, C., & O'Rand, A. M. (2002). Perceived job insecurity and entry into work-related education and training among adult workers. Social Science Research, 31(1), 49-76.


The authors attach the 1995 Adult Education Data File to Bureau of Labor Statistics data to examine the structural conditions under which adult workers (ages 35-61) perceive their jobs to be insecure. They then examine whether concerns about job loss motivate adult workers to participate in further education, after controlling for the already established effects of human capital, contemporaneous life course roles, minority status, & other labor market conditions. The authors find that the perceived job insecurity of both advantaged & disadvantaged categories of workers are affected by labor market factors, but in different ways. On the one hand, ethnic minorities, union members, workers without employee benefits, & workers in restructuring sectors are explicitly more concerned about job insecurity. On the other hand, workers in once-advantaged stratification categories demarcated by higher education, more job experience, gender (male), & seniority (age) do not perceive significantly less job insecurity than other workers & thus are no more protected from these concerns. Adult work-related educational participation reflects perceived insecurity & industrial restructuring more than prior human capital or competing life course roles.
KEY WORDS: Adults; Workers; Labor Market; Human Capital; Adult Education; Vocational Education; Education Work Relationship; Occupational Structure; United States of America.

Fenton, S., & Dermott, E. (2006). Fragmented careers? Winners and losers in young adult labour markets. Work, Employment & Society, 20(2), 205-221.


The authors begin by reviewing the literature around careers, finding common the argument that people's engagement with work is becoming more like a series of encounters than an enduring relationship. The article addresses the question of whether this fragmentation is characteristic of people in the early stages of their working lives by drawing on a study of young adults in Bristol, UK. Findings suggest that there is a core of young adults who are employed in a relatively stable pattern; however, there is also a sizable minority of mostly of low paid workers whose working lives can be described as discontinuous and fragmented. The study suggests that employment fragmentation mainly impacts young adults with less education, and in lower status, lower paid occupations and does not support a generalized picture of uncertainty and discontinuity. However, these employment patterns tend to highlight the continuing relevance of long-standing socio-economic and gender-related advantages and disadvantage.
KEY WORDS: Young Adults; Credentials; Life Course; Educational Attainment; Gender; Class.

Findsen, B. (2006). Social Institutions as sites of learning for older adults differential opportunities. Journal of Transformative Education, 4(1), 65-81.


This article examines the amount of learning older adults (aged 55 and older) undertake in nonformal and informal contexts. The author focuses on three social institutions in which learning occurs: the family, the church, and the workplace. The central argument of the article is that structured educational activity for older adults is a minor element of their learning. Rather, they prefer to manage learning for themselves. Even so, the availability of non-formal and informal learning opportunities is still heavily influenced by political economy factors, with gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity the most prominent. The author argues that less formal learning opportunities and outcomes for seniors are not evenly distributed across the older adult population and that those with higher levels of educational success tend to have more choices regarding lifelong learning.
KEY WORDS: Older Adults; Lifelong Learning; Training; Informal Learning; Adult Education; Work; Church; Family; Non-formal Training.

Findsen, B. (2007). Freirean philosophy and pedagogy in the adult education context: the case of older adults' learning. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 26(6), 545-559.


This article discusses the central tenets of Freirean philosophy and pedagogy, using them to explore and applying them to the emerging field of older adults' learning (educational gerontology), a sub-field of adult education. The author argues that many of Freire's concepts and principles remain directly applicable to the tasks of adult educators working alongside marginalized older adults. In particular, Freire's ideas fit comfortably within a critical educational gerontology approach, challenging prevailing orthodoxies and providing a strong analytical framework from which radical adult educators can work effectively in promoting social transformation.
KEY WORDS: Critical Educational Gerontology; Older Adults; Radical Adult Education; Training; Life Course.

Fisher, M. (2003). Informal learning of seniors in Canadian society. NALL Working Paper No.70. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at: www.nall.ca.


Informal learning by Canadian seniors was examined through semi-structured interviews with a purposefully selected group of 51 older Canadians (28 women and 23) who ranged in age from 58 to 95 years (average age, 73.7). All were retired or semi-retired, and all had engaged in several learning projects over the previous year in topics such as the following: self-knowledge, health, relationships, current affairs, social justice, history, spirituality, the arts, philosophy, computers, homemaking, and genealogy. Equal numbers of interviewees preferred learning alone and learning in groups. A few preferred one-on-one coaching or dialogue. When asked about their methods of learning, the interviewees mentioned learning by doing (32 times), by reading (33 times), through discussion (35 times), by watching (26 times), and by listening (27 times). The resources they used depended on topic and circumstances, with print media, people, and computers being mentioned by 44, 32, and 14 interviewees, respectively. Thirty-five adults stated that learning had always been important to them. Most participants were enthusiastic about the contributions that learning made to their lives, with 20 describing it as vital to their survival. Thirty-one interviewees stated that they spent more time on learning now than in their younger years, and 11 said they spent less time learning now than previously.
KEY WORDS: Access to Education; Adult Education; Adult Learning; Education Work Relationship; Educational Attitudes; Educational Benefits; Educational Opportunities; Educational Trends; Independent Study; Informal Education; Interviews; Learning Motivation; Learning Processes; Lifelong Learning; National Surveys; Older Adults; Outcomes of Education; Participation; Trend Analysis; Canada; Learning Patterns.

Gorard, S. (2003). Patterns of work-based learning. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 55(1), 47-63.


Data from a South Wales study (n=1,104) and British adult learner survey (n=5,885) found little clear evidence supporting the economic imperative for lifelong learning. Policies have not resulted in increased training opportunities. Many employers are not supporting work-based learning; participation is largely predictable from individuals' social and family characteristics.
KEY WORDS: Educational Opportunities; Foreign Countries; Influences; Participation; Predictor Variables; Public Policy; Sociocultural Patterns; Training.

Gould, A. (2003). Study leave in Sweden. Studies in the Education of Adults, 35(1), 68-84.


Analysis of statistics since 1994 on the use of study leave as allowed by a 1974 Swedish law indicates that about 1% of the work force takes leave at any time. Women and manual workers benefit more than men and salaried workers. Leave application causes employees few problems with employers but financial assistance is a concern.
KEY WORDS: Financial Support; Foreign Countries; Leaves of Absence; Legislation; Lifelong Learning; Public Policy.

Halliday, J., & Soden, R. (2000). Rethinking vocational education: A case study in care. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 19(2), 172-182.


This article describes the reflections of 25 adults from the United Kingdom who returned to formal education conducted. Results supported the argument that vocational institutions should attempt to develop broader student interests rather than trying to improve the relevance of vocational knowledge.
KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Life Events; Reentry Students; Technical Institutes; Vocational Education.

Heinz, W. R. (2002). Self-socialization and post-traditional society. Advances in Life Course Research, 7, 41-64.


In evaluating the continued utility of the concept of socialization, the author argues that macrosocial transformation forces in modern societies have decreased the influence of the family, school, work, & other social institutions as socializing agents, as they were in traditional societies. Nonetheless, the concept can still be valuable if it is used in conjunction with an appreciation of the enhanced position of the individual in modern society & the continuity of the socialization process across the life course. After exploring the ascendancy of the individual & the individualization of the self in post-traditional societies, the author examines the idea of "self-socialization." In contrast to the traditional process by which external norms & values were internalized through contact with or the intervention of external social agents, self-socialization describes the process by which individuals acquire an internal system of values & set their own life course through learning from & coming to terms with their own actions & their consequences. The concept captures the interaction between individual intentions, actions, & self-identity across changing social contexts throughout the life course. Some preliminary research results are presented that describe the utility of the self-socialization concept through an analysis of "biographical agency" in a study of individual work transitions.
KEY WORDS: Socialization; Life Cycle; Socialization Agents; Modern Society; Individual Collective Relationship; Internalization; Norms.

Helterbran, V. R. (2005). Lifelong or school-long learning: A daily choice. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78(6), 261.


Many districts have a vision or mission statement that includes the importance of lifelong learning. The alternative, school-long learning, is exemplified by curricula and instruction that are generally only useful while the student is in school; it does little to stimulate or fulfill that element in those who find pleasure in the process and the end result of the accomplishment of a learning goal. Here, the author presents the so called Three As. In this era of the Three As--Achievement, Accountability, and Assessment--finding educators immersed in a state of the Three Cs--Concern, Consternation, and Confusion--is a typical occurrence. The beauty of teaching for lifelong learning while trying to accomplish the benchmarks of state standards is that in many ways both of these goals are compatible, overlapping, and of mutual benefit. The most critical element in promoting lifelong learning in the classroom is to assure that everyone are lifelong learners. According to Theodore Sizer and Nancy Sizer (1999), teaching that promotes lifelong learning involves skilled professionals who know that the best learning is learning where students are invested in their work because it is interesting and relevant. A congruence between the planning, implementing, and assessing of instruction is crucial in effective teaching and learning. Feedback that is prompt, meaningful, and gives students an opportunity to rethink and rework the errors of their efforts is another strategy instrumental in focusing on the learning process. Positive and practical habits of the mind are the bedrock of one becoming a lifelong learner. Educators have a unique opportunity to strengthen and promote this in students. Regardless of all other issues that present themselves with such urgency during a school day, in the grand scheme of things the chief and overriding purpose is the achievement of the students and success in instilling lifelong learning skills. Both constitute the bottom line for the students| to enjoy a fulfilling, purposeful, and satisfying experience during their short time with educators in the school setting and for the remainder of their lives. Lifelong learning or school-long learning - the choice is made in schools daily by word and deed.

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