Phase III Consultation Seminar - York, Tuesday 8 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:

Understanding learning processes

  • There is a need to examine the differences in process and outcomes in implicit and explicit learning.  How can we assess or name these forms of learning?  To meet the needs of adults, (especially those who are disadvantaged or socially excluded) we need to recognise that all their previous learning may not have been acknowledged, either by the individuals themselves or by society.  What is the relationship between 'holistic' learning and explicit learning, and how does one inform the other?
  • What is meant by preferred learning style?  and how might it be diagnosed?  In what ways might a teacher's response to different learning styles affect learning?  Do different learning styles conflict with a teacher's preferred teaching style?
  • What is the role and impact of the media, social groups, family and employers learning? What influence does the wider community have on learning extra-curricular issues?
  • In the 16 - 19 age group of learners there is great concern. There are problems in getting learners to participate, attend and be motivated.
  • Is the curriculum relevant for this age group? Is it overloaded? What are the effects on learners, of continuous assessment and the tight curriculum structures encountered within the learning environment?
  • In HE, the new diverse group of learners is thought to work under a number of pressures including debt, part-time work and the 24 hour society.  The changing social culture and shifting employment patterns have brought about a changing learning culture, which is not well understood.
  • It is desirable to match learner demands and supply in training.  For example, how does one train graduates for non- graduates jobs?  What is the new role for 'people managers' in a rapidly changing context.
  • Established HE teaching cultures focussed on academic subjects. New curricula containing core skills and employment skills, demand new teaching cultures. What problems do we face in changing teaching cultures.
  • On-line new technology offers attractive environments for learning.  We need to understand more about these media as teaching and learning tools.
  • On-line learning seems attractive to mature adults but much has yet to be learned about this provision.  What exactly is being learned?
  • How can tensions be resolved between tight structures, which allow self paced learning, and flexible or loose structures that can allow 'slippage', on the progression of learning? How do learning style and on-line provision interact? What is the role of the tutor in on-line provision?
  • In terms of the training of tutors, how can we maximise their on-line training (multi-media instruction) with new demands on the management of learning?

Contextual learning

  • It was thought that the rigidity of institutional administration, in recognising only those factors that could be measured, lead to social exclusion. This particularly exacerbated the problems of learners with low confidence. It was thought that there was a mismatch between institutional provision and the needs of learners who feel uncomfortable with formal learning environments.
  • Learners do not understand/recognise the learning acquired within the HE context, and find it difficult to apply what they have learned to other learning environments such as employment.
  • There is a mismatch of skills being developed and those required. How can skills transfer be achieved?
  • The physical learning environment makes some learners feel uncomfortable. On?line learning was thought to encourage those learners who feel shy of formal settings.

Values

In the context of adult education, how can individuals best be helped to understand about important societal issues? For example should issues such as environmental pollution, sustainable earth products, political awareness and humane behaviour towards others be taught alongside academic subjects? The interaction between informal and formal learning in this area was considered important.

Teaching/Training

How do we value and listen to the trainer's/teacher's voice? In what ways can the role and impact of trainers/teachers be enhanced? Can it be widened to include more than the delivery of traditional subject matter? Can teachers contribute more towards the stewardship of the 'good society'?

The impact of information communication technology was thought to be significant. How can one maximise the potential of integrating multi media ? delivery systems in training/business? In what ways do the various channels of information, including paper, face to face tutorial, internet, CD, etc., affect the learning of trainers and employees?

What is the relationship between the age of managers and their preferred learning styles? Are the needs of managers at 30+ different from those at 50+ (and unemployed)?

What are the benefits of training for real jobs in SMEs and large corporate organisations, as opposed to core skill provision away from the work place. What are the advantages of experiencing community based learning, with social bonding and mentoring providing support?

Priorities

The following matters were thought to be especially important:

  • The development of independent learners was seen as central. How can we best equip students in all settings with the confidence, attitudes, skills, strategies and knowledge to be independent in their learning?
  • The enhancement of multi-media learning environments was seen to be critical. How can the various media best be integrated? What is the best balance between on-line and tutorial work? What are the design characteristics of an ideal on-line multi-media learning environment?
  • Learner identity

    What is the effect of encouraging learners to reflect upon and understand their learning experiences?
  • The teacher's role

    In what ways can the role and impact of trainers and teachers be enhanced?
  • Employment

    Motivation was seen as an important feature in work ? based learning. How can this be achieved in training?
  • Systems management in teaching and learning

    How do systems affect teaching and learning? How can management systems be optimised?
  • Expert performance and its development

    At the highest levels of attainment, how can expert performance be achieved?

Impact

The following were thought to be important:

  • Learn lessons from the experience of others.
  • Target intermediary prof