conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by M Osborne
In this paper I focus on two common concerns voiced by policy makers which impact on providers of continuing education, namely the economics of lifelong learning and the objective of widening participation to under-represented groups within a mass system. In the context of these imperatives, there is a clarion call of 'what works?'. In other words what are the benefits of lifelong learning and to whom? What types of interventions tend to be successful and which are transferable internationally? What tools do we have to measure impact? I will draw upon both literature and work that we have carried out within the Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning at the University of Stirling to consider these questions, taking the perspective of a researcher within the field. My intention is to consider what questions can potentially be answered within a functionalist paradigm, and what intrinsically will be problematic in attempting this task. I will not so much concentrate on how institutions and their managers act, but on the basis by which these acts can be rationalised and justified. Of course actions taken by institutions are not always informed by research, and it would be naive to think that they always can or should be. Equally the evidence produced to inform rational actions, should that be the chosen course, is limited.