Exploring Further Education and Training: “Who is the Further Education and Training Adult Learner”?
Dublin City University
Further Education and Training (FET) , Learner Identity
This qualitative research focused on Further Education and Training (FET) in the Republic of Ireland and investigated who is the Further Education and Training adult learner? Analysis of academic literature produced two research questions that were explored through a case study approach: a. The characteristics of the adult FET learner b. The motivation to pursue a FET course as an adult This research provides practice based evidence, baseline research and an up to date context of the FET sector. Analysis of 165 web based questionnaires and 10 interviews confirmed the characteristics and the motivations of the Irish adult FET learner. The motivation to engage in FET was found to be complex and dependent on many variables that included the satisfaction of need, self-determination and timing. The traditional profile of FET as a second chance or remedial avenue of education was challenged, as engagement was not necessarily linear but horizontal as well as vertical; lifelong and life-wide learning at the NFQ level most appropriate to their needs. This research also confirmed that adults seek qualifications. Participants were predominantly female, aged 41-65 years who were balancing multiple responsibilities and were selfmotivated toward the achievement of goals including the achievement of qualifications, improved employment prospects, and progression to HE. Participants enjoyed universal familial support for their engagement in FET but acknowledged the financial responsibility associated with their engagement. The heterogeneous aspirations of the adult learner and their need for provision to be flexible, accessible and affordable was confirmed. The benefits of FET for learners, communities and employers was demonstrated as was the need for FET providers to remain responsive to the evolving demands of the economy, society and learners.
Maloney, Fiona (2021) Exploring further education and training: “who is the further education and training adult learner”? Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.