Findsen, B., McEwan, B.J. & Mccullough, S. (2011). Later life learning for adults in Scotland: tracking the engagement with and impact of learning for working-class men and women. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 30(4), 527-547.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5680
Undertaken in the context of an ageing population and under-representation of older adults in formal education in Scotland, this paper reports on selected findings from research funded by the West of Scotland Wider Access Forum. Using a longitudinal design, the project sought, over a two-year period, to track the experiences of 85 working class older adults over the age of 50 in four further and three higher education institutions in the west of Scotland using four biannual semi-structured interviews. The authors examine learning engagement through the ‘lenses’ of gender and class, reporting thematically on the effects of these factors on engagement with, and motivation for, formal learning at the time of the study and throughout life. Related to gender, the authors report on how continuance with post-compulsory formal education was mitigated by culturally normative attitudes and practices, as well as more immediate pressing responsibilities or needs, and a reduced connection between accredited learning and employment. In the context of a ‘greying’ workforce that sees lesser engagement with formal learning as age increases, and difficulties for those with the least financial resource to undertake learning independently, the authors argue that greater investment in later life learning opportunities is necessary to maximise access and on-going participation.
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