Adult Learning Choice Making In A Complex Environment: Is This Really A Learning Choice At All?

Year: 2016

Author: Henderson, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is often an expectation that individuals make choices to engage in learning programs appropriate to their needs in an objective, (real or quazi) rational manner, although influenced by their social and economic circumstances. This is especially the case for adults. As a consequence, the policy environment in support of both lifelong learning and adult education along with the way institutions offer education favours principles from rational choice and consumer theory, with targeted programs and engagement strategies put in place to address the social contexts and needs of disadvantaged or under-represented groups. The prevalence of technology in everyday life makes it harder for some people to imagine how learning can take place without digital technologies as a component of their experience. And yet, for some people the thought of using technology to access learning is either a less preferred option or a scary thought, even if their economic position allows for the option. In a brief data collection period during the latter half of 2014, the presenter interviewed five people from Melbourne about their learning connected choices, their life and learning experiences and future intentions. This data correlated with several key theories of choice including rational choice, structure and agency, consumer choice and technology acceptance modelling.However, the question remains over whether choice was a factor in a real sense, or whether other factors lead to the degree of engagement in learning for many adults. It is the contention of this presenter that the environment is quite complex and the choice making applied is often only secondarily a learning related choice. Sometimes there appears to be no conscious choice mechanism at all.