Beyond Rhetoric

Adult Learning Policies and Practices

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This publication aims to identify what works in the policy and practice of adult learning, drawing on the experience of nine OECD countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (England). It defines the features of a desirable system of adult learning, including ways to motivate adults to learn and methods to deliver appropriate services. This book will be indispensable to policy makers and those involved in the practice of adult learning.

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Improving the Delivery of Learning to Adults

There is a degree of overlap between the question of the pedagogy and delivery of adult learning and that of adults’ motivation to learn. If adults feel at ease in the learning setting, do not have external constraints (transport, child caring), feel that what they are learning is accessible and worthwhile, and realise that what they already know is valued and taken into consideration, then the incentive to enrol in a course and to follow it through is much greater.

This chapter sets out different dimensions of delivery that are key to the well-being of the learner and the smooth functioning of the adult learning system. All the components of the system, including the enterprise and the teacher, should be included in a comprehensive approach that produces an environment conducive to learning. Pedagogical methods should be focused on the learner, informed about their personality, expectations and motives, whether professional or personal, and availability. The cognitive style of potential learners should also be kept in mind when setting new programmes in motion. Interactivity between the learners and the system (through teachers or counsellors) should be encouraged in order to adjust the learning activities to all the components of the system.

Certain delivery mechanisms have proved efficient in increasing participation. Recognition of prior learning, distance and e-learning, flexible organisation such as modularisation, and certification of current learning are certainly issues to deal with urgently in order to best suit the adults willing to learn or already engaged in learning activities. Another element vital to the health and longevity of the system is routine assessment of its different components (programmes, learners, teachers)....

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