Learning from experience

This essay focuses on qualitative research as opposed to quantitative which is the study of measurable distinct data that is could be important to a medical research company. The reason for qualitative research is for the method of auto/biographical research. This will form the basis for the interview and the conclusions that are gathered from it. It is important to understand the research methods that can be used from using a Dictaphone, videoing techniques, transcribing, or note taking. This interview was conducted around her educational history, and the research identified five motivational factors in her life using an informal session using note taking. It was important to note that the interview was not about researching bad experiences, or bringing back an emotion that was detrimental to the participant. An area that qualitative research can be undone is the emotional ties that can occur, when one is describing a part of their life that has not been revisited for many years. As in many cases the interviewer is not professionally able to deal with such traumas, it is important to highlight the ethics that are involved in this type of research. One could be seen as manipulating the subject/participant, depending on the area of research, for example young mothers, in working class and low income families or immigrants that have fled their homeland to live peacefully in the country. This type of questioning of possible vulnerable humans could question the ethics of the research. Merill, B (2009, p89) argues that biographical methods have benefited women's oppression using feminist as the conductors for the biographical research. Merill, B goes on to highlight that the biographies of women students have been aided by using this type of research. As it can transcend the boundaries put up with the interviewing process, and uncover the true stories relating to race, gender and class.

Kayla is in her late 30's and is a mother of two, one boy and one girl she was a working mother until her second child was born. The interview took place on the 30th Jan 2010 in Kayla's home. I have used the name Kayla but this is a pseudonym to protect the subject from any future problem that may occur from the piece of research that is being conducted. Kayla has identified five moments in her educational history, which span from 1978 at her prep school in Hand cross, 1982 Secondary School Aiglon College, 1986 Eastbourne Catering College, 1987 Secretarial College Oxford and finally 1996 Brighton University. Kayla has grown up in a middle class working family where she had travelled from place to place because of her father's career in the armed forces. Kayla had lived in Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Germany, Switzerland and England. Kayla had experienced a stable and safe upbringing although she had moved around a lot in her young life. The family bond and security was never broken.

Kayla had first experienced bad teaching when she was eight or nine, when she was attending Hand cross Prep School as a border. The maths teacher at the school would always demoralise Kayla, because she was always brought up to put her hands up to ask a question if she did not understand. The maths teacher at the school would tell his students to put their hands down if they wanted to ask a question. Kayla states that she felt "Thick" through the experience of that maths lesson. It was his teaching style that had made Kayla question her academic ability and demotivated her in all her mathematic classes. Unfortunately the teacher ignored her natural response and told her to put her hand down if she wanted to ask a question. Through this experience Kayla had learnt that teachers were all important to ones learning especially at a young age. The following year Kayla was moved up a year and was taught by another maths teacher and for the first time, she could understand equations and this had inspired her to learn more. Overall Kayla had enjoyed a happy experience from her learning at her prep school and felt secure and safe within the environment that she was in. Kayla parents had moved to Zimbabwe through her father's army career and she had to leave her prep school. Her next school would be in Switzerland, Aiglon College in 1982. This would prove to be a new experience for her, as it was an international school and had 48 nationalities and only 250 students. The school was not predominantly academic unlike some private schools, and the focus of the school was sports orientated. Kayla had enjoyed her educational experience at the college and had left with nine O levels. The expectancy of her upbringing would have been for her to progress onto A levels and then University. Through the experience of her time at Aiglon College she had realised that she wanted to travel around world. This new realisation of travelling around the globe would push her into catering college, because she wanted to work as she went from country to country. After catering college she went to a secretarial college as this would extend and add to her curriculum vitae. Kayla last point on her educational timeline is Brighton University, when she entered back into education as a mature student. Kayla had spent seven years out of education, during this time she had travelled around the world twice and undertaken various means of employment.

Ones own experiences from education and everyday life stem from their structural standing. Structure can dictate the way in which we learn and experience life as structure can be broken down into many points ranging from gender, class, social attitudes, social expectations, work, and crime, disability, economic and political. Our everyday life is set in boundaries that can prove very difficult to break out. A young white working class female from Kent, leaving school with no qualifications from her secondary school would have a predetermined structure of life. Unfortunately the career path of such stereotypes would be seen as low skilled and in all probability become a young mother. The chances of her rising above her social standing or going to university would be statistically low. A young male from a middle class family leaving a grammar school in Kent with good qualifications, would be expected to enter into university and become a professional in his chosen career. The social expectations of these examples are key to how one views the world around us. Disability and crime can play a major part of how we perceive learning and education, if one is not expected to achieve in education or progress in their chosen career, it may become a self fulfilling prophecy. Families play an important factor in our social structure as they will determine how we go about our daily lives. They help to inform us of our identity and how we see the world.

Kaylas motivation for learning when she left secondary school was led by her desire to travel around the world, the only way she could fulfil that was to learn new skills that would make her employable as she travelled the world. Although she had left school with nine O level she was not interested in going onto college or university, which would have been the norm for her peers. At catering college she had discovered a skill and trade that she had always loved and this new experience in learning, had given her a zest to learn more. After leaving catering college Kayla enrolled on a secretarial college as this would broaden her skill set. Although this was beneficial to her and her dream of travelling she did not experience the same motivation or inspiration as catering college.

As Kayla had travelled the world she realised that she loved architecture and going from town to town, country to country she was taking in the infrastructure of the buildings and architecture and the different designs that she came across. Kayla had returned from her travels and decided to follow her desire and ambition and spent two years trying to achieve her aim of enrolling into university studying architecture. Kayla enrolled onto a foundation course while she was working as a chef and in 1987 she finally was accepted onto a degree course in architecture. Kayla had left formal education when she was sixteen and at twenty seven she decided to re enter education embarking on a degree course at Brighton University. Kayla was a mature student when she went back into education. Although her peers were much younger and had not had the life experiences she had encountered, she had a common bond with them and this was the love of architecture. Kayla experience of being a mature student was thirst for new knowledge and learning, Kayla had achieved good O levels at school but she never expected to go to university. Kayla was inspired by the tutors and the style of teaching and had a good rapport with her peers. Through self reflection, essay writing, designing, presentation, analysis and critiquing from tutors and the final dissertation Kayla had achieved a two one in her final degree qualification and this would be her greatest academic achievement.

The way adults learn has been studied since 1920 by academics, professionals and educational psychologists. According to Merriam, S (2001) there is still not one idea that explains how and why we learn as adults. Approaches by psychological behaviourist such as Thorndike and Bergman to gauge adult learning and the memory have produced debatable experiments. According to Merriam, S (2001, p 4) experiments conducted in the 1950's did not produce any significant differences between adults and children. The tests focussed on the cognitive and problem solving, which were controlled experiments in the laboratories or unreal settings, which questioned the authenticity of the tests compared to everyday situations. The study of adult learning or anrdragogy has been taken up by a number of scholars none more so than Malcolm S. Knowles, who would become the major authorative figure on adult learning in America. Knowles theory stated in Jarvis, P distinguishes the difference in the way adults and children learn by four main principles;

'A in change self concept, since adults need to be more self-directive; experience, since the mature individuals accumulate an expanding reservoir of experience which becomes an exceedingly rich resource in learning; readiness to learn, since the adults want to learn In the problem areas with which they are confronted and which they regard as relevant; orientation towards learning, since adults have a problem centred orientation they are less likely to be subject centred'. ( Jarvis, P 2004, pp126)

By outlining these foundations for adult learning Knowles had tried to analyse and compartmentalise learning from an adult's point of learning. Knowles had stated that adults would be more motivated to learn than children and this could be true of Kayla and her experience of re-entering education as a mature student. Her studies at university would have involved her having to research ideas and design principles in her own time, she would have attended lectures and tutorials, her timetable would have allowed her a vast amount of self directed study. Kayla experience of travelling and seeing architectural sights of Hong Kong, Sidney, America, Central America, India, Paris and Barcelona would have benefited her progression in her architectural studies. Kayla educational stereotype fits into Knowles ideas or assumptions of adult learning but one feels that it is a one dimensional view of one person's life. Knowles presumptions, ideas and conceptions have had their critics as not all adults will fall into his stereotyping or simplistic view that all adults will learn in this way. The idea that children can not learn in this way also has generated a debate amongst observers and professionals a like, Jarvis, P (2004, cited Knudson, 1979; 261, PP127) states 'it is a human theory of learning not a theory of child learning, adult learning or elderly learning. It is a theory of learning that combines pedagogy, andragogy and gerogogy and takes into account every aspect of presently accepted psychological theory'. As stated earlier Knowles was not the only adult theorist they ranged from Paulo Friere,Robert Gagne, Jack Mezirow and Carl Rogers, according to Jarvis (2004) Friere's study of adult learning stemmed from a social injustice of the regime in Brazil and how they manipulated the masses by conquering and colonisation. Gagnes ideas of how we learn base itself on instruction and learning and both these ideas would have levels of gradual learning through the stages of instruction from informing the learner of the objectives, to learning through problem solving. According to Jarvis, P (2004, P124) Gagnes has invented a hierarchy of learning which starts from the bottom, signal learning, and level by level, the learner will be able to progress to the highest level, of problem solving, which is gained from the previous learning from the initial instruction. Jarvis argues that this type of learning lends itself to adult education. Unlike Knowles theory of adult learning gagnes approach does not base itself on the humanistic approach which is significant in Knowles study of work.

Over the years their have been many researches and papers that have written about the theories of both andragogy and pedagogy the difference being a way in which one teaches adults and children (Jarvis cites Knowles, p110) definition 'pedagogy is derived from the Greek words paid meaning child and agos meaning leader, consequently the art of science of teaching children. According to Jarvis, P( 2004, P127) Knowles makes the assumption that aner meaning man, and peda, meaning child, therefore one is the science of teaching man and the other is the science of teaching children. Pedagogic teaching is where the teacher is at the centre of learning, taking control of the environment and dictating the learning experience. This kind of teaching does not require the students to become autonomous and therefore the student becomes reliant on the instruction of the teacher. Unlike adult teaching where the emphasis is that the students is all empowering and is expected to be autonomous and responsible for all their learning. In this style the teacher, communicator or facilitator is secondary in the learning environment.

The ideas of andragogy and pedagogy are related to theories of motivation either within the adult or child. Child motivations to achieve at school are fundamentally different to adults embarking on a degree course at university. Childs motivations can come from a range of sources that are linked with their upbringing and expectations of the family. There motivation could also come from peer pressure and to some extent good teaching. In Kayla's study, she has stated that she felt 'thick' because of her teacher at her prep school had made her feel inadequate, and by contrast her experience at university was motivationally and inspirationally high, and this was down to good tutors, teaching and her own agency and structure.

Maslows hierarchy of needs are linked directly with motivational theory where the student needs to feel safe, secure and loved before they can begin to learn. There have been many studies of motivational theories of adult learners. Most notably is Herzberg's model of motivation, although he was not the only one to research the ideas behind motivation. In certain circles his work is still relevant and still being contested. His model of motivation relies on two tiers, one is a hygiene factor and the other a motivational factor. Herzebergs studies and research were based around the workplace, gaining information on how the workers ambition and happiness worked in tandem or not. In a diagram by Chapman, A (2003) he describes; 'the hygiene factors ranging from status, security, relationship with subordinates, personal life, relationship with peers, salary, work conditions, relationship with supervisor, company policy and administration, and supervision'. According to Nigel Bassett,J, (2005, pp 934)Herzberg's theory distinguished these factors as job satisfaction that either went up or down, depending on any of the hygiene factors being affected. Nigel Bassett,J, (2005, P934) states; 'Sources of satisfaction included, a sense of achievement, recognition, the work itself, the opportunity to take responsibility and prospects for advancement'. Herzberg concluded that these were the motivational factors that inspired the workers and it these factors that make people achieve and progress in life. As mentioned in the text earlier there have been many theorist and authors who have tried to analyse motivational theory, either in education in teaching and learning, or in the work place for production and employers benefits. According to Frank Coffiled (2009, p13) students motivation or lack of, are reliant on the tutor being impartial and non judgmental. Frank Coffiled suggests that tutors making assumptions about a student's ability could be detrimental to their learning, if they were perceived to be not up the task. This would demotivate the student and would end in a downward spiral making less progress, ambition, effort and finally they would give up on the task or education altogether. In comparison Frank Coffiled suggest in his spiral diagram that if a tutor treats all students the same, and the expectation levels are high, the student will gradually step by step gain confidence. The students will reach the highest level of their achievement through the ongoing connection and development of the tutor and student, through consultation and advice of the learning and teaching taking place in the learning community. In kaylas experience one could identify Coffields idea of the tutor and student relationship growing together, where each party have progressed in their potential either to inspire or to achieve the grades. Kayla has mentioned that she was very lucky to, not only be inspired to be on the course, but also to have good encouragement and high praise from her tutors. Looking at Herzberg's theory in relation with kayla one could also identify the motivational factors, with her ambition and personal growth, that inspired her and motivated her to achieve her goal of completing her degree and becoming an interior designer.

Please be aware that the free essay that you were just reading was not written by us. This essay, and all of the others available to view on the website, were provided to us by students in exchange for services that we offer. This relationship helps our students to get an even better deal while also contributing to the biggest free essay resource in the UK!