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This study explored the experiences of community learners as they progressed from community education to third level education. It also examined the reflections of those who had completed their studies and the impact that education had on their lives. It focused on former students, students currently participating in certificate courses, and also students studying on college access programmes. It was hoped to give a broad view of perspectives on the contrast between community learning and third level education.The study attempts to focus on the positive aspects of the experience rather than the barriers which each student faced. Data collection was primarily by way of semi-structured interviews
The research design was interpertivism informed by a social constructionist epistemology. It involved the exploring of the real life experience of the participants and was therefore phenomenological in nature. The research method used consisted of one on one semi structured interviews and the data was analysed. The interviews were sructured so as to enable the participants to take a narrative approach and to document their experiences.
A literature review was conducted on the available writings in regards to community education, social inclusion, anti-poverty and access routes to third level education.The findings reveal many of the positive aspects that the learning experience has had on students as they acessed third level courses. It highlighted some of the reasons why many of them did not proceed directly on after second level. It also indicates some of the teaching practises which encouraged a more involved class participation and the motivation behind the student’s desire for a college accreditation.
The study concludes with recommendations for policy makers with regards to improving the future learning experiences of progression students.
Farrell, A. The experience of progressing from Community Education to Third level Education from a learner’s perspective. Thesis submitted towards the award of Masters (M.A.) in Third Level Learning and Teaching,DIT, 2012.