Phase III Consultation Seminar - London, Monday 21 May 2001

Aims

The aims of the seminar were:

  1. to identify some of the problems in teaching and learning in the particular fields of the participants.
  2. to identify and prioritise questions for the Phase III research agenda and
  3. to take advice on achieving research impact in the field.

Problems in teaching, training and learning raised are listed below:

Meeting the needs of students - problems of exclusion

  • In the context of widening participation of the post–16 age group, and non-traditional entry, there are perceived barriers to students’ successful learning. There are problems in getting them to enter a programme, stay the course, participate and be motivated
  • There is a need for longitudinal studies to determine the impact of support mechanisms on the students’ educational successes and, eventually, their employability.

Learning processes

  • How can we demonstrate that learning has occurred? Can the many different types of learning be measured? Can the effects of informal learning, e.g. being involved in voluntary sector community initiatives, be measured? Can the deeper changes in learning be measured?
  • How can learners be supported when teachers change from teaching in Mode 1 (transmit) to Mode 2 (facilitate) – especially when considering life long learning?
  • What are transferable skills and which of these can be regarded as ‘generic’? How can these skills best be developed and how do they relate to learning substantive knowledge? What are ‘basic skills’ in an FE context, and are they more than literacy and numeracy skills? How do these skills relate to other forms of learning?

Teaching

How can we get teachers to take greater cognisance of the way learning happens, including different learning styles, and in particular the impact of their use of ICT?

Our perception of knowledge is changing from Mode 1 (transmitted & organised by the provider) to Mode 2 (driven by practitioners, learner centred) forms. How do we recognise what consumers want and what are the best ways to negotiate learning programmes? How can teachers be supported in dealing with teaching these two forms of knowledge and with negotiation as a pedagogic process?

ICT

How can we maximise the potential of integrating multi – media modes of learning and teaching? What is the optimal balance between different forms of learning experiences and different media, including books, other paper resources, mixed media and personal interaction which might affect the learning of students? In what ways does teaching interact with learning?

Contexts for learning

Are the fundamental structures of the FE and HE curriculum conducive to accommodating Mode 2 knowledge learning?

Is it time to review fundamentally the basic structure of the curriculum in HE, away from Mode 1 learning, towards more problem solving and learner centred approaches?

Values

There was concern expressed about the nature of research questions to be asked in relation to the present socio/political/economic scene. To what extent should research questions on learning be underpinned by prevailing conditions? Should questions offer a challenge to the status quo, to raise a critical agenda, to challenge current assumptions?

  • to what ends should learning be directed?
  • what is the relevance of the HE curriculum in a changing socio/economic society?
  • what is the nature and significance of work place learning and in what ways does it relate to other forms of learning?
  • what role(s) should non-traditional providers and the voluntary sector take?
  • Older learners face particular problems, because there are cultural assumptions made about these learners. How can IT be used to assist older learners, particularly those living in dispersed communities, in both their formal and informal learning? In what ways can group work be integrated into their IT programmes, to satisfy the need of older adult learners?

Issues of transition

  • There was concern expressed over issues of transition, from school to college and then onto work. Each phase has a different learning style which needs to be understood. What preparation should young people get for these transition phases? In particular, lessons can be learned from gender successes with GNVQ.

The 16+ curriculum

  • How can learners with poor school experience be motivated to learn?
  • How can the management of learning and support for basic skills best help the disadvantaged?
  • How can basic skills be integrated into other programmes of work? For example, can literacy and numeracy strategies be applied to adult learning?
  • Work experience contexts
  • Work experiences vary greatly and learning depends on the learning culture of the organisation. It was thought that there is far better use of learning opportunities in those organisations where the learning culture is dominant. We need to know more about the influence of learning cultures, especially in small companies.
  • What aspects of a learning culture provide effective support for work experience and enhance change in the learner? In training, how is it best to evaluate progress over time?

Priorities

The following matters were thought to be especially important:

  1. Work based learning, professional development (CPD), learning basic core skills, transition from school to college for low achievers and transition from education to work.
  2. All contexts for learning were not thought to be equally important and perceived priorities were:
    • employment sectors involving social care
    • workplaces, where learners could benefit from a clearer understanding of the nature of mentoring, facilitating and coaching
  3. The changing socio/economic context has an impact on learners. Therefore:
    • what curriculum do institutions need to offer to non-traditional learners? How might such a curriculum be delivered? What kinds of support are needed to enhance attendance and help employability?
    • what sort of learning actually happens when people are engaged in community projects?
    • what is the role of educational institutions and other partners, such as employers, in interventionist roles within community development programmes?
  4. There are different perspectives on the purpose (s) for learning and these are contested and articulated in different ways by different stakeholders.
    Therefore:
    • what do the different stakeholders perceive to be the purposes of learning?
    • how is teaching and learning influenced by these different stakeholders’ perceptions of purpose?

Impact

The following were thought to be important:

  • learn from what is already known.
  • share research agendas between partners. It might be sometimes necessary to transcend divisions between post-compulsory sectors, to get collaboration between bodies such as WEA/HE/Trade Unions etc.
  • outcomes from research to be communicated through channels other than research journals, to enable practitioners to gain easy access.
  • qualitative and quantitative evaluation should be seen as equally important and valuable.