Typologies of Lifelong Learners in Professional Higher Education and their relevance for LLL strategies of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

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Author(s)Sigrid Nindl
In the FLLLEX project surveys were conducted for the development of a self-evaluation instrument to enable HEIs to test their flexibility in LLL. Lifelong learners in Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Turkey, UK, who are studying at HEI’s and are concurrently in employment, were asked about their motives to study and possible barriers. 1,525 students participated.
On the basis of a typology by Markowitsch/Hefler (2009) five main target groups of Lifelong Learners with a focus on education were identified. The results of the survey were used, in the context of the typology, to categorise types of learners and analyse differences. 34% of the participants were classified as Compensating Learners, 31% Transforming, 15% Reinforcing, 12% Completing, 9% Returning.
Reinforcing Learners tend to receive more support from their companies than others. Compensating Learners have an above average chance of receiving educational leave, and Returning Learners have the lowest percentage in this regard (17%).
More than 60% of the participants had prior learning recognised for their study. Most learners who searched for information on this found it at the HEI; 77% of Completing, 51% of Reinforcing Learners. For both groups recognition of prior learning was the most relevant factor in beginning their study.
In terms of what they want from their HEIs, Completing Learners most frequently wish for upgrades in the quality of teaching and timetable adaptations to employed students; Returning Learners wish for upgrades in the quality of teaching and flexibility when job-related requirements increase. Transforming/Compensating Learners primarily want timetable adaptations and flexibility. Reinforcing Learners’ wishes refer to improvements in the recognition of prior learning or experience and in flexibility.
The results show that there tend to be differences in the motives/needs of the identified types of lifelong learners, which can be taken into account by HEIs.
CategoriesModernising PHE within diversified HE » 2012 22nd Annual Conference, FLLLEX