Engaging Adults And The Hard To Reach Education Essay

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In 1996 over one third of adults (i.e. those members of the UK population aged 19 and over) were not participating in learning. In 1999 Learning Works (The Kennedy Report) was published. This report was the most important statement to have appeared in years of what needed to be done to close the learning divide in Britain and it was the first to identify the target groups for widening participation:

Older people, both in employment and seeking employment

Unskilled and semi-skilled workers

People with literacy and numeracy needs

People with no or low qualifications

It also identified the following as having low levels of participation:

People recovering from mental illness

People with disabilities and / or learning difficulties

People with emotional or behavioural difficulties

The Skills for Life Strategy supplements Kennedy's categories with the concept of social exclusion. Certain groups within society may be marginalised from mainstream services for a number of different (and often multiple) reasons. For example, disabled people, pensioners and lone parents may all face exclusion due to lack of time, lack of learning provision etc. People in deprived or remote areas may lack transport or childcare facilities. Obstructive cultural attitudes, peer pressure and motivational factors can also be barriers to learning.

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The Success for All Strategy says the aim of targeting such groups is threefold:

Close the skills gap

Improve social cohesion

Enable adults to raise their aspirations, reach their potential and improve the quality of their lives

What Are The Key National Policies?

Widening Participation - many of the recommendations that were contained in the report - Learning Works - were translated into the LSC's funding mechanisms. For example, the Widening Adult Participation Action Fund (WAPAF) sponsors the development of projects that focus on adult participation, particularly teaching, learning and learner progress.

LSC Widening Participation Strategy is concerned with creating successful local partnerships of providers and increasing the range of successful, high-quality provision available to those who are not attracted to traditional learning environments.

Equality And Diversity - the current focus of legislation is on racial equality and equality for disabled people, to accompany existing legal provision, which is designed to combat discrimination on the grounds of gender or sexual orientation. Forthcoming legislation is likely to focus on age discrimination and human rights.

E-Learning - the e-Strategy has a bearing on increasing access by, and participation in, learning by adults, particularly those discouraged by traditional teaching methods. The use of ICT is seen as the way to encourage and motivate adult learners, increase choice, personalise learning and make evidence of achievement portable and achievable.

Action At The Local Level

For national policies to be effective - they need to be fully embraced by local providers and acted upon. What should local providers do? They need to disseminate national policies and initiatives to staff, governing bodies, elected representatives and management groups as appropriate.

They need to review the state of play on widening participation within their own organisation in relation to:

Needs identification and community profiling;

Strategies for contacting and engaging underrepresented learners;

Outreach work;

Promoting learning generally within the community;

Information, advice and guidance throughout the learning process and for progression;

Curriculum design and relevance;

Curriculum delivery in community venues;

Suitability of teaching and learning strategies;

Use of new technology for learning;

Learning and learner support, including financial support and student tracking;

Nature and purpose of existing local partnerships;

Community involvement in planning at all levels.

Local providers need to:

Incorporate the outcomes of these reviews into strategic and curriculum planning, quality assurance and staff development activities and set and monitor targets to widen participation;

Explore how new arrangements introduced as part of the New Learning Pathway can be exploited to move forward immediately on widening participation;

Develop the dialogue with the key stakeholders in the locality to explore the state of readiness for introducing and / or further developing partnerships approaches to widening participation locally.

The History And Development Of Remploy

Remploy was set up under the 1944 Disabled Persons (Employment) Act. The company was formally foundered in April 1945 making furniture and violins at Bridgend in South Wales, where many of the workers were disabled ex-miners. Over the years Remploy has made significant changes to its operations. Learning and development is the cornerstone to success in Remploy. It is the key enabling process that allows every person the company employs or supports into work, to achieve their potential and independence.

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Through its highly successful and development strategy, Remploy has witnesses how lifelong learning can significantly improve the employment skills, lifestyles and independence of disabled people. In 2006 Remploy Learning was launched - its aim is to help more disabled people into work by improving the links between disabled learners, training providers and employers. By 2010, Remploy aims to be supporting 20,000 disabled students into mainstream employment each year - quadruple the numbers today.

Action At The Micro Level

Government policies and local providers' initiatives to improve the access and quality of learning provision for disengaged groups of adults must be translated into personal success stories. The research proposal for this study focuses on a group of learners in one of Remploy's Outreach Centres.

The purpose of the proposal is to present findings through research that will enable adult disabled learners to play a more active role in the learning process.

The research proposal will focus on the delivery of Basic Skills - specifically literacy skills. There are six learners on the course - four males and two females. The group is extremely diverse, with each learner having specific needs. One of the learners who will be referred to as Mike, (not his real name) has been diagnosed has having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and this will the focus of the action research.

The DfES (2005) defines action research as "a systematic enquiry designed to yield practical results capable of improving a specific aspect of practice and made public to enable scrutiny and testing." McNiff, (2002), p85 states that action research is "an enquiry conducted by the self into the self….it involves identifying a problematic issue, imagining a possible solution, trying it out, evaluating it (did it work?), and changing practice in the light of the evaluation".

The main benefit that should result from the action research is that each student will be given the opportunity to develop new and innovative ways of learning. The students, at present tend to rely entirely on the tutor's input, and remain passive. Using a variety of different methods and approaches the intention is to encourage active learning which in turn will encourage the students to take on a positive role. Whilst the action research will be focussed at Mike, (the autistic student) - the impact of the new strategies on the other learners will also be monitored and evaluated.

1.6 What Is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder severely impairs a person's ability to communicate and interact with other people. Teaching adults with autism requires that special attention be given to the needs and characteristics of that disorder. The tutor that works with Mike on a daily basis has studies and monitored his behaviour over a period of time and considers that priority must be given to all areas of need - particularly communication, behaviour and social skills. According to Sigmund, (1998), p74, autism is a developmental disorder that affects each individual to look and interact with the world around them.

Helping them to make sense of the environment requires specialised instructional methods that fully consider the characteristics and learning styles associated with autism. Clearly the findings from this type of research can act as a catalyst in terms of helping other tutors to develop their knowledge and understanding of autism. This in turn will allow such providers as Remploy to become more effective in terms of developing learning programmes and work opportunities that meet the needs and requirements of people with this condition.

SECTION TWO - RESEARCH STRATEGY

2.1 Research Aims / Questions And Objectives

The aim of the intervention research is to create and implement a teaching and learning environment which is beneficial for the students. This will give them a sense of value - it will raise their self-esteem, motivate them and allow them to achieve their potential for learning. It is intended that the successful completion of this research will implement change by:

Developing and implementing strategies to meet the needs of autistic learners;

Providing them with a range of visual resources which will stimulate their interest and involvement with the learning process;

Providing visually represented schedules;

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Modifying the room layout.

Visual schedules provide concrete, static information about past (completed), current and future events. Schedules help regulate behaviour by providing information, reducing anxiety and assisting with change and transitions. Grandin (1995) p85 - proposes that people with autism think about the world through a stream of visual images. She often refers to those who are not autistic as being "language based thinkers". Most of us live in a realm of words - each word has a definition.

2.2 Change Strategies

The initial approach to deliver improvements to the learning environment for autistic students is to completely review the environment in which they are taught. There are several major limitations with the current state of the facilities. To begin with the room is too formal with the tables and chairs set out in rows (a stark reminder of school days). It feels too much like a classroom with posters from the Basic Skills Agency on the walls. A starting point to get the students more involved with the learning process is to provide them an opportunity to have a voice in how the room should be set out and furbished (subject of course to budget constraints).

The layout of the learning environment needs to be less like school and more like an area where adults would come and engage in new experiences. Theorist, Carl Rodgers advocates a humanistic approach to problems within education. Curzon, (2004), p65 quotes Rogers saying that the "teacher should have much to do with setting the initial mood or climate of the group or classroom experience." Creating a more comfortable, less formal and friendlier environment should help to resolve some of the communication issues that confront Mike.

Another strategy is to encourage the learners to vary where they sit in the room. This strategy can be achieved in part by encouraging the students to work in different pairings and groups of 3 to complete learning tasks. The final strategy will be to introduce a range of resources and activities more suited to an autistic learner. This would involve introducing more visual materials, which will hopefully benefit all the learners.

Expected Outcomes

The outlined change strategies should motivate the students to become actively engaged with the learning process.

The skills that will be learnt will be both transferable and measurable.

The outlined change strategies should support the development of transferable skills (this could be implemented by collecting data appropriate to the completion of tasks and making calculations necessary to the interpretation and presentation of findings. Tasks completed in the workplace are "mapped" to work done in the lesson).

Questions

Will engagement and motivation alter as a result of implementing the aforementioned change strategies?

Should the outlined strategies be successful, will Mike be able to "step up" to the next level with a different tutor who may employ a more traditional teaching approach?

Will the other learners be aware of the modifications I have made to accommodate the learner, and how will they react? (The likelihood is that the "new" approach will also benefit the other learners)

Will it become evident to Mike's colleagues and employers that he has benefited from his new learning environment and activities, by his behaviour within the workplace?

The research that is being conducted raises some ethical issues. Do the students have full knowledge of what is involved? Due to the nature of this investigation, a question that needs to be asked is do the learners need to know that their learning environment and their actions are being investigated? However, the very nature of the research project involves a comprehensive overhaul of the students' learning environment and activities. The dynamics of such change is guaranteed to generate questions and concerns from the students.

Research Timetable

The first step is to evaluate the working practices and methods of the tutor that delivers basic skills to the group, which is the focus of the research project.

Mike's other tutors need to be liaised with to try and establish strengths or weaknesses.

A selection of visual activities according to the learners' capabilities (these activities will depend very much on the tutor's assessment of Mike over a period of time).

Information regarding the change strategies that have been implemented needs to be gathered. The validity and reliability of this information would need to be established.

The change strategies that have been implemented need to be evaluated, did they benefit the learner. How will the research strategy be different next time?

2.3 Research Methodology

The benefits of qualitative data is that it is concerned with the "nature of the phenomena" rather than with producing aggregate data. It is usually used:

When the research is very exploratory - perhaps where the issues being researched are poorly defined.

Either as a forerunner to quantitative research (where exploratory work is needed, for example, to help design questions in a survey) or to provide an in-depth "rich picture" of issues where quantitative research provides insufficient detail.

Another benefit of qualitative is the emergence of unexpected data that illustrates the research questions, and will inevitably lead to further developmental work. Using the "findings" from the research project will provide the opportunity to logically analyse and extract meaning from this data. The interpretation and analysis of the results will provide the opportunity to generate new ideas, theories and conclusions. These are of course subjective and the researcher will need to be entirely impartial and open to the multiple meanings within the data.

The main methodology that will be employed will be observation. Critics may argue that the findings of these studies lack objectivity - are unreliable and subject to the biased interpretation of the observer.

In order for the data collected to be valid a work colleague must always be present with the tutor conducting the observation.

She will also carry out some observations which will be recorded using interaction schedules (methods used to analyse and record what takes place during a session).

The areas / activities that will be observed are Mike's:

Interaction with other learners;

In-class verbal contributions;

Body language-positive or negative;

Short-term memory;

Understanding of instructions (which will be assessed by observation of body-language, feedback and class contribution).

The following data collection methods will also be used: questionnaires and 1-to-1 interviews

Both types of data will be used in the questionnaires: open-ended questions (qualitative) so that it offers the respondent a free choice of response, and closed statements (quantitative) to which each learner will select their response on a continuum ranging from 1 (I strongly disagree with this statement) to 5 (I strongly agree with this statement).

The design of the questionnaire will take into consideration the differentiated style of the learners.

The "language" used will be "pitched" at an appropriate level and the font size will be large enough for the respondents to read.

Visual responses will be incorporated into the questionnaires, which will allow the learners to tick the image that signifies their response to each question.

Denscombe, (2002), p11 states "Questionnaires have the potential to supply researchers with exact figures (responses to questions)".

Strategy for analysing the results - As the research process will be using both quantitative and qualitative data, it will be necessary to sort the data into groups.

The quantitative data is very easy to sort into a meaningful form because it consists of straightforward answers i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.

This evidence can be collated by adding up the numbers in each and converting the results into percentages.

The qualitative data is harder to collate because it will require interpretation, so all answers or responses to the open ended questions need to be collated as positive or negative.

This will also apply to the observation sheets - each major theme will be colour coded and assembled into a meaningful form.

Red = Motivation / Blue = Concentration / Orange = Self-esteem / Black - Vocabulary

The findings will be analysed as follows:

Do the learners ask questions and discuss relevant issues? (Theme: vocabulary)

Do the learners appear focused and eager? (Theme: motivation)

Are the learners content and fulfilled? (Theme: self-esteem)

Do the learners sit still and appear interested? (Theme: concentration)

Ethics - All respondents will be assured of confidentiality and in terms of reporting

any findings - anonymity will be preserved with respect to their identities.

The ethics code of practice (i.e. the research process should not cause harm, all benefits should be stated, all religious, cultural and gender differences will be sensitively handled, and the questionnaires should be written in a format which is appropriate the language capability of each respondent) will be upheld throughout the research project.

Before any research activity is undertaken the ethical considerations suggested by Bell, (2005), p32 which include:

Permission from the line manager at Remploy for the research to take place within the company will be sought.

Issues such as deception concerning the purpose, privacy, confidentiality, anonymity and safety will be covered and divulged to any concerned parties.

Purpose of the research explained honestly and in full. An explanation of what happens at each stage (i.e. interviews, observations and questionnaires) will be provided.

To ensure that the study is understood and its methods are fully understood at each stage of the research process.

All aspects of confidentiality will be observed throughout the research process.

Questions for the researcher will focus on whether anyone could be harmed by the research.

McNiff, (2002), p45 - states that "doing action research helps you to grow professionally, to show how you are extending your own professional knowledge". It is intended that this study has a positive impact on the students in that they have a greater interaction with their learning environment and become more fully involved with their learning activities. The findings that are generated by this study will act as a catalyst for undertaking further modifications to the teaching and learning methods which are employed to engage with the group.

SECTION THREE - RESEARCH FINDINGS

3.1 Classroom Observation - Summary Of Results

To ensure that the classroom observations produced valid and reliable results - the following schedule was devised.

Stage 1 - 5 sessions were observed in the "traditional teaching" situation i.e. before the change strategies (outlined in section 2.2) were implemented.

Stage 2 - 5 sessions were observed in part 1 of the change strategies i.e. the layout of classroom was left in the traditional style of rows of desks and chairs. However, learning activities, which involved the students working in pairs and groups of 3, were introduced. The students were also encouraged to become more interactive and to change their seating position from the previous session.

Stage 3 - 5 sessions were observed in part 2 of the change strategies i.e. the layout of the room was changed to a less formal style - thus creating a more relaxed and inviting environment.

In total 15 sessions which involved the teaching of literacy skills were observed.

Checklist Of Observations For Mike

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

1. Mike asks questions

4 times

12 times

20 times

2. Mike contributes towards class discussions

2 times

8 times

13 times

3. Mike seeks the help of the tutor

43 times

35 times

25 times

4. Mike seeks the help from another student

3 times

27 times

41 times

5. % of learning tasks completed independently by Mike

5%

15%

35%

6. % of learning tasks completed when Mike worked with another student (pairing)

Not applicable

20%

40%

7. % of learning tasks completed when Mike worked with 2 other students (group of 3)

Not applicable

25%

45%

Checklist Of Observations For The Whole Group

Red = Motivation

P 2 / N 4

P 4 / N 2

P 5 / N 1

Blue = Concentration

P 1 / N 5

P 3 / N 3

P 4 / N 2

Orange = Self-esteem

P 1 / N 5

P 2 / N 4

P 4 / N 2

Black = Vocabulary

P 3 / N 3

P 4 / N 2

P 6 / N 0

Observations Of Mike - What Do These Results Mean?

Stage 1 - In the first 5 classroom observations, Mike is reticent and appears reluctant to become heavily involved in any of the teaching sessions.

This could be because the formal layout of the room and the use of teacher-centred delivery techniques are severely restricting his opportunities to become involved.

His reluctance / lack of opportunity to fully participate in the learning process are reinforced by the other items in the checklist.

For example, he asked the tutor 43 times for help but yet only completed 5% of the learning tasks independently in this period of observation.

Stage 2 / Stage 3 - In the second 5 classroom sessions, Mike becomes much more willing to become involved in the learning process.

With regard to the first two items - Mike asks a lot more questions and makes a greater contribution to class discussions.

Plus he asks the tutor for help on far fewer occasions in stages 2 and 3 - than in stage 1.

Also Mike becomes much more comfortable about asking other students for help.

His confidence improves and by the end of stage 3 - he is working well with the other students to complete the learning tasks.

These results would seem to indicate that the change strategies (outlined in section 2.2) have had a positive impact on Mike.

Throughout the duration of the observed sessions - Mike has responded positively to the changes that been made to the learning environment and the nature of the learning activities.

However, the above improvements could have also resulted because he has been the focus of the research process.

Whilst the results from the observed sessions suggest that there is a strong correlation between the change strategies that have been implemented and Mike's greater involvement in the learning process - more evidence is required to confirm the linkage between these two areas.

Whole Group Observations - What Do These Results Mean?

As explained in section 2.3 (Research Methodology) - four major themes would be observed in the 15 literacy skills sessions and to make recording these occurrences of these themes - a colour coding system was devised.

An overall summary of the results produced by the colour coding mechanism was presented in the above table.

At the end of stage 1 of the classroom observations - 4 students out of the group were considered to be de-motivated (i.e. N 4).

The other two students were considered to be motivated (i.e. P2).

When all four areas (i.e. motivation / concentration / self-esteem / vocabulary) at the end of stage 1 - most of the students are in a negative state.

However, as the change strategies are implemented the situation overall becomes much more positive.

At the end of stage 3 - five of the students are considered to be motivated and have become fully engaged in the learning process.

Plus at the end of stage 3 - the vocabulary skills of the six students has been much more extensive.

This could be because they the learning environment has changed from being teacher-centred and formal to student-centred and more inviting to become engaged in the learning activities.

3.2 Questionnaires (Closed Questions) - Summary Of Results

At the end of each stage of the observed sessions (as outlined above) - all of the students were asked to complete a questionnaire, which consisted of the following statements.

The content of the sessions was well organised

The sessions were delivered at an appropriate pace

The tutor was easy to get on with

I found it easy to ask the tutor questions

I found it easy to get on with the other students

I found it easy to ask the other students questions

I found the learning tasks easy to complete

I feel that the classroom has a friendly atmosphere

I really feel that I have learnt something new

I really enjoyed the literacy sessions

The students were asked to give a response to each statement based upon a continuum - from 1 to 5 - as shown below:

1 (I strongly disagree with this statement)

2 (I disagree with this statement)

3 (This area is ok - but improvements could be made)

4 (I agree with this statement)

5 (I strongly agree with this statement)

As already explained, each learner has their own specific needs - consequently the questions re-worded or presented visually to allow them to understand what they were being asked. A summary of the results for the questionnaires are shown below:

 

 

Stage 1

 

 

 

 

Stage 2

 

 

 

 

Stage 3

 

Question

1

2

3

4

5

 

1

2

3

4

5

 

1

2

3

4

5

1

 

2

2

2

 

 

1

1

3

1

 

 

 

3

1

2

 

2

1

2

2

1

 

 

 

2

3

1

 

 

 

2

3

1

 

3

1

2

3

 

 

 

 

1

2

3

 

 

 

 

2

2

2

4

 

3

2

1

 

 

 

2

2

2

 

 

 

1

1

2

2

5

2

2

2

 

 

 

1

2

3

 

 

 

1

1

1

2

1

6

1

1

3

1

 

 

1

 

2

3

 

 

 

1

3

2

 

7

3

2

1

 

 

 

2

1

1

1

1

 

 

2

2

2

 

8

 

3

3

 

 

 

 

2

2

1

1

 

 

1

1

2

2

9

1

3

2

 

 

 

 

3

3

 

 

 

 

2

2

1

1

10

1

2

3

 

 

 

 

3

3

 

 

 

 

1

1

2

2

Totals

10

22

23

5

0

60

5

17

24

12

2

60

1

14

17

18

10

Percent

17%

37%

38%

8%

0%

100%

8%

28%

40%

20%

3%

100%

2%

23%

28%

30%

17%

Cum %

17%

53%

92%

100%

100%

8%

37%

77%

97%

100%

2%

25%

53%

83%

100%

Stage 1 - At the end of this stage the students' responses to the 10 statements are very negative.

With more than half of the answers being accounted for by 1 and 2 (strongly disagree / disagree).

This indicates strong levels of dissatisfaction with all aspects of the literacy skills lessons that are being delivered in this stage of the research process.

Only 8% of the responses are for 4 (agree) and there are 0% for 5 (strongly agree).

Stages 2 and 3 - As the change strategies are implemented over the duration of the next 10 sessions - a more positive response is produced.

At stage 2 - the number of responses covered by 1 and 2 (strongly disagree / disagree) falls from 92% to 77%.

At the end of stage 3 the figure has fallen again to 53%.

Whilst at stage 2, 23% of the responses are for 4 and 5 (agree / strongly disagree).

This climbs to 47% at the end of stage 3.

The results from the closed questionnaire indicate that overall there is a very positive response to the changes in the learning environment and learning activities - that were implemented over the course of the observed sessions.

3.3 1-To-1 Interviews - Summary Of Results

The content of the 1-to-1 interviews was based upon the 10 statements contained in the questionnaire and the four themes (i.e. motivation / concentration / self-esteem / vocabulary) that were observed in the 15 literacy skills sessions.

The interviews produced a lot of data and on the whole reinforced the findings from the observations and the questionnaires.

The interviews reinforced what is already known about this group of students - they have a diverse range of needs.

This implies that more a detailed research project would produce further results, which could be utilised by Remploy to improve the effectiveness of their learning and work programmes.

3.4 The Research Process - Summary Of Results

In section 2.2 (Change Strategies) - 3 outcomes that were expected to be produced by this study were stated.

The first outcome was that as a result of implementing the change strategies - the students should become more motivated and actively engaged with the learning process.

The results produced by the observations, the questionnaires and the 1-to-1 interviews provide very strong evidence that the first outcome has been achieved.

The second outcome (the skills that have been learnt will be both transferable and measurable) needs an extension of the current research process to determine whether this outcome has been achieved.

Outcome three - is a longer-term objective and as with outcome two - an extended research process is necessary to determine what would be required to achieve the development of transferable skills.

Or perhaps, more correctly, what changes do Remploy have to make to their current teaching methods and learning strategies to achieve the benefits that would be generated from the successful fulfilment of all three outcomes?

SECTION FOUR - CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

4.1 Conclusions

As discussed in section 3 (Research Findings) - it has been revealed that the change strategies that were implemented were successful in terms of increasing the motivation of the students and getting them to become more actively involved in the learning process.

However, the study did not reveal whether these benefits would be short-lived or longer lasting.

It could be that now the observations have been completed and the students have got used to the new regime - their motivation levels may in fact return to what they were previously.

Plus if the rest of their learning programme at Remploy is based upon more traditional and formalised teaching methods - the new found motivation in the literacy skills classes could soon become dissipated.

Of course - the students could be highly motivated in a class that relied heavily upon traditional teaching methods. The problem could be the subject matter i.e. literacy skills and not the form of teaching that is being used.

As can be seen the research project has possibly generated lots of unanswered questions.

4.2 Initial Assessment / Individual Action Plans (IAP) / Individual Care Plans (ICP)

Every time a new student starts at Remploy - they will be required to complete an initial assessment. If the student lives in some form of residential care - they will have an Individual Care Plan. This will provide information about the nature of their needs (e.g. Mike - the learner at the focus of this study - has Autistic Spectrum Disorder), their family history, their educational experiences etc. Obviously this information is very personal and must remain strictly confidential.

The information in the ICP will form part of the initial assessment. There will be additional discussions, assessment tests and so on. When this process is complete an Individual Action Plan (IAP) will be drafted for the new student. An IAP is usually set for a specific period of time e.g. 3 months, 6 months etc - periodic reviews will take place at key points. The IAP will provide details of the subjects the learner will study, what additional support they need etc.

Given that a great deal of effort goes into the preparation of IAP - it would not be too much of a burden spending some time discovering what motivates each new student.

1. Recommendation For Future Action - A strategy to improve the motivation level of each student should begin with their IAP - This will provide the opportunity to customise the learning process to meet the specific needs and requirements of each student from the very start of their relationship with Remploy.

Maslow produced a model of motivation based upon a hierarchy of human needs. The model is shown below and has been re-fashioned to fulfil the needs of an individual in an educational setting.

Self-Actualisation

Be enthusiastic and supportive

Encourage projects and plans

Be positive about the future

Promote optimism

Self-Esteem (Pride)

Encourages independence

Praise when appropriate

Welcome ideas

Treat students with dignity

Love And Belonging (Feeling Accepted)

Show that you care

Promote interaction between students

Promote a cohesive class climate

Safety And Shelter (Safety From Harm)

Maintain confidentiality / privacy as necessary

Treat students fairly

Observe and chart accurate information

Follow safety rules when necessary

Physical (comfort requirements)

Provide adequate breaks

Ensure comfort

Arrange seats according to needs

Be alert to heating and ventilation needs

The lowest level on Maslow's hierarchy of needs is the physical environment. As this study has shown, the creation of a learning environment which is informal and allows the students to interact with each other - provides a number of benefits. Namely the students become more motivated and become more actively involved in the learning process.

2. Recommendation For Future Action - The group of students that were observed for the purpose of this study should be provided with their own learning environment. They should be provided with the opportunity to say what type of furniture they would like, how the room should be set out etc.

All of the lessons should be delivered in this location. This development would build upon the successes gained from the study and would provide the students with a sense of ownership. This would provide the group with the opportunity to progress to the next level of Maslow's hierarchy.

4.3 Individual Learning Styles

As noted, the six students that have featured in this study all have specific needs. The identification and development of their individual learning styles will make it easier for the teaching staff to select resources that satisfy the learning requirements of each student.

David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984. This learning theory sets out four distinct learning styles. Various resources refer to the terms - activist / reflector / theorist / pragmatist - respectively representing the four learning styles inherent in Kolb's model. In fact these terms are from a learning styles model developed by Honey and Mumford, which although based on Kolb's work, is different.

An activist tackles problems by brainstorming. They tend to thrive on the challenge of new experiences but are bored with implementation and longer-term consolidation. A reflector likes to collect data first, both first hand and from others, and prefer to think about it thoroughly before coming to any conclusion.

A theorist thinks problems through in a vertical, step-by-step logical way. A pragmatist is keen to try out new ideas, theories and techniques to see if they work. A student's preferred learning style is determined by the completion of a learning style questionnaire. Their responses are mapped onto a learning style grid.

3. Recommendation For Future Action - The Honey and Mumford model, or something similar, could be modified to meet the requirements of the six students which formed the focus of this study. This process would help to identify their preferred learning style.

This information could be utilised by their course tutors in that they could select teaching methods, learning activities and resources to meet the needs of each student. This would help to increase their motivation and would help to maximise their learning potential.

4.4 Extending The Research Process

A variety of forms of action research have evolved Carr and Kemmis, (1986), p67. All adopt a methodical, iterative approach embracing problem identification, action planning, implementation, evaluation and reflection. The insights gained from the initial cycle feed into planning of the second cycle, for the action plan is modified and the research process is repeated.

This study represents the completion of cycle 1 is complete.

4. Recommendation For Future Action - research process It is recommended that the research process should be extended for a further three months. This will provide the time and the opportunity to implement the Recommendations For Future Action, which are highlighted above.

This extension of the study represents cycle 2 of the research process shown in the above diagram.

It is important to build upon the key findings that have been revealed by this study and to translate it into techniques that can be readily understood and applied by teaching practitioners.

This will enhance their professional development and will allow their students to gain more skills, knowledge and confidence from their learning experiences.

SECTION 5 - BIBLIOGRAPHY

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www.jeanmcniff.com Accessed on 05/10/06

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