Learners through the lifecourse
TLRP was interested in how some people develop confidence and succeed as learners, whilst others do not, and in how learning and development can contribute to work, careers, social inclusion and fulfilment through life. To take stock of such issues, the Programme funded a thematic group on Learning, Identity and Agency and the major output from this group can be found in a special issue of Studies in the Education of Adults published in 2007. Additionally, TLRP supported a thematic seminar group on the key issue of Transitions through the Lifecourse . TLRP was also well aware of the influence on lifelong learning of various dimensions of human development: see, for example, the outcomes of the thematic seminar series on Collaborative Frameworks for Neuroscience and Education and the commentary on Neuroscience and Education: Issues and Opportunities.
All TLRP projects were positioned within a lifelong learning framework, but one project explicitly engaged with these issues Learning Lives: Learning, Identity and Agency in the Life Course. For other projects here we just highlight some of the issues that arise in certain stages of education that have profound effects upon learning and development later in life. The Effective Pre-School and Primary Education (EPPE) followed the developmental trajectories of 3000 randomly selected children in 141 preschool settings, and the EPPE study showed the positive influence of early childhood education, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those at risk of developing special educational needs. The Improving Learning How to Learn in Classrooms, Schools and Networks emphasised the importance of helping children become self-motivated, autonomous learners who enjoyed the process of learning and understood what they needed to do to meet new challenges, and this had clear consequences for how they were likely to regard learning and development in future. The Identity and Learning project showed how the patterns and dynamics in pupils' learning strategies, emergent identities and pupil careers unfolded over time and through successive learning and social contexts during their school careers from 5 to 16.
In further education, the Transforming Learning Cultures in Further Education, Learning and working in Further Education in Wales and the Policy, Learning and Inclusion in the Learning and Skills Sector projects all emphasised how tutors could help learners rebuild their learner identities that had often been fractured in some way by their previous educational experiences. Workplace adult basic skills provision could also give workers confidence as learners as the Enhancing 'Skills for Life': Adult Basic Skills and Workplace Learning project showed.
In higher education, the Learning to Perform and the Investigating Musical Performance projects both highlighted how, while still undergraduates, many musical performers are preparing to play a number of diverse roles after graduation. These roles may involve performing, teaching and other work activities and the ability to continue learning could be central to maintaining a ‘portfolio career.’ The importance of the ability to transfer learning between contexts was also emphasised in the Seminar Series on Contexts, Communities and Networks: Mobilising Learners' Resources and Relationships in Different Domains and in the Early Career Learning project.
Learning and development also occur outside education and work contexts and both the Older people and lifelong learning: choices and experiences and Learning Lives: Learning, Identity and Agency in the Life Course projects examined the type of learning and development people engage in in later in life and the significance of this for their identities. One of the outputs of the former project Exploring influences on later life learning showed how the intertwined themes that emerged from the discussions related to discontinuity and change, situational and institutional influences on education and learning and the possible influence of personality factors and values as well as issues of gender, class and race. The Learning Lives project publications offer a rich vein of outputs on how issues of learning, identity and agency change over the life-course.
Publications related to the general theme of learners through the lifecourse are listed below: