What does learning mean? What meanings can this question take on for those adults – whose numbers are growing all the time – who decide to return to education, enrolling at university? It seems that lifelong learning has become integral part of the discourses concerning both the educational and the sociopolitical fields: in the new millennium the international organizations that influence the policies in the EU member countries are all in its favor. In this research work I have re-examined the premises in terms of “learning” undelying the policies of lifewide and lifelong learning through the theoretic background and the epistemological lenses of systemics, constructivism and social constructionism. This ecology of ideas represents a possibility to get past the most widespread metaphor of knowledge as a “tangible asset” to be accumulated and capitalized. As a consequence it becomes possible to go beyond the form of intentionality that Bateson calls conscious purpose that, taken as a guide of the learning processes, would lead to a merely instrumental and functionalist form of one of the most complex and mysterious characteristics of the human life. The challenges posed by lifelong and lifewide learning affect the whole education system and particularly university. Over time the academic world has changed its relation with society through the transformation of its functions or missions. Universities, after the transformation from élite niches to “mass higher education” places are now taking a new challenge: the extension of the their population in a lifelong direction. The presence of “mature” students therefore should not be an exception or an eccentricity, but it can be explained with the evolution of institutional missions. Neverthless this category still remains outside from the “academic tribes and territories” and it is recurrent in research studies concerning the so-called “non-traditional students”, defined as under-represented students in higher education and whose participation is constrained by structural factors. These students are considered at risk in terms of access, retention, active participation, academic success, and social integration. The question of my research project places itself in this context and concerns those students enrolling at university through non-linear trajectories or with personal backgrounds that do not consider the academic path as a “natural outcome”. What do these students look for and what do they find at university? What does it represent for them? What effects on the idea of self that the student develops in relation with the academic world? Different research studies in the field of adult education and of the sociology of education show how adult students develop forms of multilevel identity inside universities. Many of these studies use the biographical or auto-biographical methods since their potential to grasp the point of view of the participants. For my research I considered it useful and interesting to choose the auto-biographical methods exactly because of their potentiality to give voice to the insiders. At the same time I wanted to emphasize the pedagogical, relational and reflexive dimension of these methods and therefore I chose the form of the auto/biographical workshop. The workshops involved about 30 adult students and were based on estethical, metaphorical and reflexive processes. The narrative materials produced during the workshops were analyzed through a plurality of sensitising concepts able to enlighten in different ways the experience of lifelong learning in a university context. The final step of the research was a co-operative inquiry with a team of researcher/students that previously experienced the biographical workshops. The co-operative inquiry focused more deeply on the experience at university, generating a shared and participatory hermeneutic circle and resulted in a project addressed to the institution.

(2013). Apprendere lungo il corso della vita e in una pluralità di contesti. Una ricerca narrativa sull'esperienza degli studenti "non tradizionali" in Università. (Tesi di dottorato, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, 2013).

Apprendere lungo il corso della vita e in una pluralità di contesti. Una ricerca narrativa sull'esperienza degli studenti "non tradizionali" in Università

GALIMBERTI, ANDREA
2013

Abstract

What does learning mean? What meanings can this question take on for those adults – whose numbers are growing all the time – who decide to return to education, enrolling at university? It seems that lifelong learning has become integral part of the discourses concerning both the educational and the sociopolitical fields: in the new millennium the international organizations that influence the policies in the EU member countries are all in its favor. In this research work I have re-examined the premises in terms of “learning” undelying the policies of lifewide and lifelong learning through the theoretic background and the epistemological lenses of systemics, constructivism and social constructionism. This ecology of ideas represents a possibility to get past the most widespread metaphor of knowledge as a “tangible asset” to be accumulated and capitalized. As a consequence it becomes possible to go beyond the form of intentionality that Bateson calls conscious purpose that, taken as a guide of the learning processes, would lead to a merely instrumental and functionalist form of one of the most complex and mysterious characteristics of the human life. The challenges posed by lifelong and lifewide learning affect the whole education system and particularly university. Over time the academic world has changed its relation with society through the transformation of its functions or missions. Universities, after the transformation from élite niches to “mass higher education” places are now taking a new challenge: the extension of the their population in a lifelong direction. The presence of “mature” students therefore should not be an exception or an eccentricity, but it can be explained with the evolution of institutional missions. Neverthless this category still remains outside from the “academic tribes and territories” and it is recurrent in research studies concerning the so-called “non-traditional students”, defined as under-represented students in higher education and whose participation is constrained by structural factors. These students are considered at risk in terms of access, retention, active participation, academic success, and social integration. The question of my research project places itself in this context and concerns those students enrolling at university through non-linear trajectories or with personal backgrounds that do not consider the academic path as a “natural outcome”. What do these students look for and what do they find at university? What does it represent for them? What effects on the idea of self that the student develops in relation with the academic world? Different research studies in the field of adult education and of the sociology of education show how adult students develop forms of multilevel identity inside universities. Many of these studies use the biographical or auto-biographical methods since their potential to grasp the point of view of the participants. For my research I considered it useful and interesting to choose the auto-biographical methods exactly because of their potentiality to give voice to the insiders. At the same time I wanted to emphasize the pedagogical, relational and reflexive dimension of these methods and therefore I chose the form of the auto/biographical workshop. The workshops involved about 30 adult students and were based on estethical, metaphorical and reflexive processes. The narrative materials produced during the workshops were analyzed through a plurality of sensitising concepts able to enlighten in different ways the experience of lifelong learning in a university context. The final step of the research was a co-operative inquiry with a team of researcher/students that previously experienced the biographical workshops. The co-operative inquiry focused more deeply on the experience at university, generating a shared and participatory hermeneutic circle and resulted in a project addressed to the institution.
FORMENTI, LAURA
Lifelong learning, lifewide learning, university, non-traditional students, learning identity, qualitative methods, auto/biographical methods
M-PED/01 - PEDAGOGIA GENERALE E SOCIALE
Italian
Scuola di Dottorato in Scienze Umane
SCIENZE DELLA FORMAZIONE E DELLA COMUNICAZIONE - 47R
25
2011/2012
(2013). Apprendere lungo il corso della vita e in una pluralità di contesti. Una ricerca narrativa sull'esperienza degli studenti "non tradizionali" in Università. (Tesi di dottorato, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, 2013).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/47265
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