Lifelong Learning and Wider Benefits: A Three Level Qualitative Analysis

By Eugenia A. Panitsides.

Published by The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 13, 2014 $US5.00

Investment in Lifelong Learning (LLL) has long been an explicit policy goal within the European Union, on the grounds of economic and social benefits assumed to be generated. In the light of the “LLL slogan”, political discourse has repeatedly accentuated multifarious benefits, such as increased earnings and employability, social cohesion enhancement, health standards improvement, active citizenship promotion, lower crime rates and greater personal prosperity and fulfillment. In this respect, a qualitative study was conducted, aiming at a) recording self-reported benefits emanating from adult participation in LLL courses, b) identifying variables accounting for differences in the benefits reported by participants in the study. In an attempt to gain more meaningful insights into the situation, fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with randomly selected individuals having participated in general adult education courses. The data of the semi-structured interviews underwent a three level qualitative analysis, following the “grounded theory” methodology, comprising ‘open coding’, ‘axial coding’ and ‘selective coding’. The interviewees reported that their participation in adult education courses was a positive experience, which resulted into various wider benefits. The main categories under which significant benefits were recorded were “self-fulfillment”, “functionality”, “social capital”, “leisure” and “learning”. Moreover, taking into account that each person has different traits and needs, which are also interrelated with contextual factors, axial coding of data depicted that “disadvantaged” individuals appeared to have benefited most from their participation in LLL courses.

Keywords: Lifelong Learning, Adult Education, Wider Benefits, Social Capital, Social Cohesion

The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, Volume 20, Issue 1, March 2014, pp.61-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 13, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 774.443KB)).

Dr. Eugenia A. Panitsides

Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Educational and Social Policy, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece

Dr Eugenia A. Panitsides is Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Educational and Social Policy, University of Macedonia, and Collaborating Educational Personnel in the Hellenic Open University. She has additionally been lecturing at the University of Western Macedonia, at post graduate level. Dr Panitsides has been collaborating with many educational institutions as lecturer and scientific advisor in adult education and training programmes, such as the National Hellenic School for Public Administration, the Pedagogical Institute of Greece and the Interbalkan Institute of Public Management. Dr Panitsides has been involved in various research projects in the field of adult and vocational education, while she is Associate Editor of the Multilingual Academic Journal of Education and Social Sciences (MAJESS), as well as member in a number of international Reviewers’ and Editorial Boards. She is co-editor of two collected editions and author or co-author of more than 40 papers in peer-reviewed journals and collected editions, in English, and Greek.