Proceedings of The 6th World Conference on Research in Education
Adult learners’ experiences of an education, training and development structured master’s course at a traditional university in South Africa
D.A Hamman-Fisher and V.F McGhie
Adult learners’ pursuit of postgraduate qualifications is critical to reducing South Africa’s current skill shortages in the education, training and development profession. As such, adult learners who wish to develop themselves further and who have a good academic record are accepted into a structured master’s degree programme in the Department of Industrial Psychology at a traditional university in South Africa. However, very little is known about their motivation for returning to formal learning and whether their expectations for postgraduate development have been met. This paper reports on these learners’ expectations and experiences in the education, training and development structured master’s course. A situated learning and teaching intervention strategy was used as the theoretical basis of the course. There were two reasons for this choice. Firstly, it shifted the focus from the lecturer to the student as an equal participant and co-creator in the learning process. Secondly, it does not isolate the curriculum from random didactic terms nor view learning as separate from the social and cultural context in which learning occurs. It also supports the transference of knowledge and the development of workplace competencies. The data were derived from the students’ reflective pieces written at the beginning and end of the course. The findings show that adult learners pursue postgraduate studies to upgrade and empower themselves, and the assessments in the course enabled them to contribute positively to their organisations’ training and development needs.
keywords: Adult learners, postgraduate, education, training, and development, motivation, situated learning