A phenomenological exploration of adult, asynchronous distance learning

Goldspink, Sally (2017) A phenomenological exploration of adult, asynchronous distance learning. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

This practitioner-led study explores the subjective experience of distance learning. The ability of this mode of education to offer deep learning opportunities is questioned in the academic literature; an impression compounded by the gap between contemporary notions of transformational learning and organisationally led appraisals of distance learning. Therefore, this research is distinct because investigative attention is placed on person-centred understandings of distance learning alumni. To address the research question, the qualitative methodology of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) is used as approach, process and method. The small scale research design features individual, in-depth telephone interviews followed by a transcript verification meeting. In IPA, the power of the single and collective voice of participants is recognised through systematic description and interpretation. To aid reflexivity and rigour, a methodological extension entitled ‘echoes’ innovatively contributes to the six steps of IPA analysis. Interpretative insights reveal the participants’ transformational learning, visible through five pedagogical tenets associated with the notion of self-connected learning. Self-connected learning is an original contribution to educational knowledge, and encapsulates the embodied experience of learning for the self, nurtured in a caring environment to empower ongoing self-efficacy, curiosity and choice. Transformational change is observed when the participants turn their gaze inwards, embracing new ways of thinking and acting, with tutors providing stability whilst encouraging intellectual risk-taking. Importantly, the consequences of the learning experience are noted after course completion through real-life integration. Temporal outcomes show distance learning as conducive to significant and relevant learning when embedded in a learning atmosphere of care, consistency and supportive challenge. The detailed application of IPA allows for transferability, whilst making no claims of generalisability. Instead, ideas are offered to encourage confidence and self-learning via pedagogic assumptions, distance learning curricula, and tutor actions. Recommendations are also suggested regarding future educational research and IPA practice. When distance learning is understood as an embodied experience, new conversations about the integration of humanistic educational ideals can go hand-in-hand with advancements in technology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: Distance learning, Transformational learning theory, Alumni, Reflexivity, Interpretative phenomenological analysis
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2018 15:51
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2018 12:49
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703124

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