Voices of the Undereducated in Adult Education and Training in Ontario: A Phenomenographic Approach
Maingot, Carolyn A.
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This doctoral study was an exploration of the qualitatively different ways in which undereducated adults (at or below a high school level of formal education) reported their experiences of participation in adult education and training (AET) programmes offered by publicly funded school boards or their arms-length affiliate in the province of Ontario. In light of a low participation rate in the Canadian AET system by undereducated adults, the rationale was to examine whether or not AET programmes are meeting the needs of undereducated adults beyond a narrow focus on an instrumental approach associated with human capital development. This study was located in a theoretical framework consisting of (a) learning theory, (b) motivations for participation, (c) general barriers to participation, (d) structural barriers to participation, and (e) transformative learning. The purposive sample consisted of 11 participants between the ages of 18-58 who were drawn from service providers in 4 geographic regions of Ontario. Data collection consisted of (a) demographics, (b) voice recordings from face-to-face participant interviews, (c) participant weekly critical incident reports, and (d) researcher reflexive journal notes. Data were analyzed in accordance with a phenomenographic approach within a constructivist/interpretivist research paradigm. Findings revealed 4 qualitatively different ways in which undereducated adult learners reported their experiences of participation in AET and were reported as the voice of (a) security, (b) engagement, (c) relationship, and (d) competency. Implications to theory and practice and to further inquiry were outlined.