AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Full and part time mature learner experiences in Irish institutes of technology: a mixed methods enquiry

by Carol Moran

Institution: Dublin City University
Department: School of Education Studies
Year: 2015
Keywords: Education; Mature learners; Third level education; Mature student engagement
Record ID: 1180275
Full text PDF: http://doras.dcu.ie/20422/


As the number of mature learners engaging in third level education in Ireland is increasing and public policy continues to encourage further participation, educators’ responsibility to engage with their students in a meaningful and productive way is broadened. Government and organisational policy needs not only concern itself with increasing access for mature learners, but also with the learning experience being provided and the pedagogical situation created. This study used a mixed methods approach to gain an insight into the experience of mature learners at five institutes of technology in Ireland. The interpretive phenomenological approach seeks to place their lived experience at the centre of the research and the philosophical framework is based on the idea of the educational process being part of a transformative experience for mature learners, many of whom are at a transitional phase in their lives. Mezirow’s transformative learning theory is traced through the narratives of mature learners and insights into the degree to which education can be transformational are presented. This research is intended to improve understanding of mature learner experiences and give an appreciation of the effect that individual and situational differences have on the learning experience. The way in which mature learners are categorised is considered and the extent to which mature learners who are returning to education for purely vocational reasons can be converted to engagement with lifelong learning is examined. A number of recommendations are made which are intended to improve the learning experience for mature learners with a view to improving their personal outcomes and those of society more widely.