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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Transforming Learning Cultures in Further Education

Grant reference: L139251025

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Conference paper/presentation details

TLRP: Expanding our understanding of the learning cultures in community based Further Education
This paper presents arguments for distinctive features of the learning cultures present within community based further education. The paper draws on data generated through a qualitative study of two community learning centres (CLCs). The overall aim of the project is to achieve enhancement of the teaching and learning experience, shared across all participants in the research, through a deeper understanding of the learning cultures. These participants include the CLC tutors and support staff, learners, college managers and members of the research team (which itself includes College Research Fellows, as well as the University-based team). Through a series of group and one-to-one interviews with staff and learners in two CLCs, as well as informal observations, a large qualitative data-set has been produced. The principles of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) have informed generation and analysis of these data. This approach draws on both psychological and sociological traditions. It aims to capture and explore the meanings that participants assign to their experiences. Drawing on the work of Bourdieu and of situated learning theory, we argue that the CLCs can be understood as sub-fields operating in relation to two superordinate fields: those of the local community and the main further education college to which the CLC is attached. The cultures of CLCs are ones where much more of learners’ social and emotional lives are explicitly brought into the learning sites than happens in more formal learning settings. As a result. the undertaking of ‘emotional labour’ is a core part of the ‘habitus’ of the lecturers and other CLC staff – Centre managers and support staff - who help shape the work practices and learning cultures of the CLCs. Furthermore, the two superordinate fields shape individual human relationships – which we term ‘learning relationships’ - within the CLCs in complex and at times conflicting ways. We conclude that our analysis is taking us deeper into a depiction of learning cultures as a constellation of affective variables centred around feelings, attitudes and relationships, and moving us further from conventional constructs of pedagogy and learner support. Our work is illuminating aspects of an under-researched area of post-compulsory education and training. The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It is a collaboration between a university based research centre and two partner further education colleges.
Original Document

Primary contributor

Author J Gallacher

Additional details