Some of the basic assumptions under-pinning adult educations are that adults tend toward self-directedness, that adult learning needs are generated by real-life problems, and that adults wish to apply acquired knowledge and skills. Part time studies is the potential method for increasing participation, through the integration of learning into the life space of adults. It has always been the concern of adult education to democratize education and encourage greater participation.
Part time education methods are supposed to have the ability to overcome the problems that prevent participation in adult education programs and thus to be self-directed. Situational barriers are those related to one’s situation in life at a given time. These include lack of time due to job and home responsibilities, transportation problems, lack of childcare and so on. Dispositional barriers refer to one’s attitude about learning and perception as a learner. This includes lack of confidence, the feeling of too old to learn and bored with learning.
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Institutional barriers are those erected by learning institutions that include inconvenient schedule, compulsory attendance, restrictive locations and the like which discourage working adults from participating in educational activities. Who Are the Adult Learners? Generally, when we talk about the adult working population who are seeking higher education we will think of various different groups. Firstly, there are the graduates who have already obtained their first degree and who are coming back to school.
These are people who want to upgrade their qualifications, they seek knowledge and new skills and they have numerous other reasons for coming back. In addition, most important of all they want to study part-time. They are not leaving their jobs and other commitment but they want to pursue a higher degree. The value of postbaccalaureate level study is increasing every year as a greater number of new jobs require higher level knowledge and skills. There are those who are qualified to pursue higher education or to enter university but did not manage to get a place.
They went to work because to study in private colleges would be costly. After working for a while they decided to get a degree but they also need to hold on to their jobs. In fact this is the only way they can keep themselves in school. 2. 0 Three Main Problems Faced By Adult Learners Adult students faced several problems to being self-directed in carrying out their learning in a part time program. Although they did not prevent or stopped these students from participating in the program, these barriers had prevented active learning that was required in the part time system and environment of the university. . 1 Age The adult students were between the ages of 35 to 48 years old. They said that because of their age they face problems like trying to remember what they learn and trying to remember the methods of solving problems and application. These students worry because they know that they are competing with younger people. As one student described: I worry about certain subjects like Statistics. I have not studied it before so I worry. And subjects like Mathematics. I studied Mathematics in school, and I left school long ago. I do not use Mathematics anymore. I totally forgot the applications of it.
That is why I worry, because I wonder whether I can remember or not, because as you grow older, your memory is not so good. Another student described his problem as below: I have a bad memory, this is due to my age and other problems that I have. I get tired easily and have difficulty in staying up late to do my assignments, read and study. I think my age is taking a toll on me. The participants perceived that their age has a bearing on the vigor of carrying out their learning. Although age did not stop them from participating in the learning, they feel that if they are young they can be more active and will worry less. . 2 Finance Finance emerged as a problem and a worry to the students. Although it did not stop them from participating in the program, they are hoping to get some form of financial support. They have applied for study loans and are waiting for a reply. In the mean time, they harbor the worry of paying for their fees. They are allowed to enroll and register for courses first without paying for their fees pending response from the loan application. However, the fee payment is always as one student said “at the back of my mind”. As one student said:
When I first found out about the program and knew the fees charged I just brushed it aside as too expensive for me. Yes, fees are a problem. 2. 3 Work Commitment Work commitment is another category that the students faced numerous problems and work commitment that prevented them from actively participating in the activities of learning. One student related his experience and said: Every now and then, I have problems coming to class because of my work. The class are held from 6 p. m. to 8 p. m. My working hours are from 11 a. m. to 7 p. m. So how can I attend class? ” I just have to miss them.
The student said he faced a tough time working and studying. Even though his office hours end at 7. 00 p. m. , he usually stayed longer to finish his work. By the time he gets home he would be tired. But the demand of his studies, with the assignments and readings to do, require him to stay up until late at night. This means he has to sacrifice sleep and rest. The face-to-face sessions are held during weekends and this means they also have to sacrifice the rest that they should get during weekends. As he described it, “it’s a tough life”. 3. 0 Suggestions to cope with the problems
The reason for the adult learners return or further their study are self-initiated professionals and personal development and employer-mandated job enrichment. Actually, there are many method provided to cope the problems. For example, Open University (OUM) designed the Blended Learning Approach to cater the problems mentioned. OUM conduct the tutorials at the local learning centre and this will allow more people to continue their study without traveling to another place. Another method is self-managed learning and it requires students to study independently, accordingly to their time. 4. 0 Conclusion
It is indicated that adults who participate in a learning program like the undergraduate program in this study have a certain degree of maturity and “readiness”. They embarked on the program because the program mode enables them to earn a degree without having to leave their jobs and other commitments. To them part-time learning suits their present life situations. The problems faced will not totally stop them from participating in the program. However, problems faced do prevent them from actively participating in the learning process. Being adults, they will some how continue learning to meet the requirements of the program.
They turn to for more self-study if they cannot follow the on-line tutorials and if they find the face-to-face meetings not fulfilling their needs. They minimize other problems by putting in more effort and sacrificing rest and leisure. It is also the task of the provider of such programs to assist learners to minimize problems as those indicated in the study. Lecturers have to acquire the ability to organize and promote student participation and discussion. This means that lecturers have to be content experts, having experience and are able to share the experiences with students.
In a formal program that leads to a certification such as the undergraduate program in this study, self-directed learning cannot be used as an excuse to leave the students alone. Their questions need to be discussed and answered. If self-directed learners recognize that there are occasions in which they will need to be taught, they will enter into these taught learning situations in a searching, probing frame of mind and will exploit them as resources for learning without losing their self-directedness. Lecturers are to provide them with these resources.
Adult students possess the readiness to learn. Learning will take place more quickly if we want to learn and are ready to learn. 5. 0 References Darkenwald, G. C. , and Merriam, S. B. (1982). Adult Education: Foundation of Practices. New York: Harper and Row Publishers Inc. Knowles, M. S (1975). Self-directed Learning: A Guide for Learners www. wikipedia. com 6. 0 Attachment 6. 1 Attachment 1 NEW PERSPECTIVES: SONGS AS YOUNG ADULT LITERARY TEXTS 1 Too Wei Keong New Era College, Kajang, Malaysia ABSTRACT This paper advocates the use of contemporary popular songs that are of interest to learners.
Primarily, it presents a study using a song for the development of comprehension skills and for examining issues in the song that are concerned with young adults. A focus on interactive and reflective learning processes enabled students to participate, exploit and experience the meaning of the texts for themselves. The use of the song also facilitated discussion and allowed students to connect personal experiences to the song, providing an avenue for presenting their thoughts in oral or written form. Introduction Teaching secondary students a second language is a challenging task.
Although most of the instructional materials are prepared for learners, learners themselves as individuals are often not given much attention (Vethamani, 2002). Often students feel distant from the instructional materials that teachers use in the EFL or ESL classroom. To instil students’ interest in teaching materials, songs have been used in the language classroom because of their motivational effect on teenagers (Horner, 1993). However, songs used in the language classroom tend to be those written for the purpose of instruction and students usually get bored with them very quickly.
In view of this, some teachers resort to the use of their own favourite popular songs in the classes, albeit with some problems. Some students view the choice of teachers’ songs as being unfamiliar and uninteresting. In this paper, I will present a case for using songs in the EFL classroom. The use of contemporary songs is advocated as they are of interest to learners and are effective learning instructional materials in the language classroom. The focus is on contemporary popular songs and not on teaching grammar items or vocabulary. Songs as Young Adult Literary Texts
There is no denying that students will be interested in a lesson in which their favourite popular song is used to teach the language. Besides the music, students are interested in songs which deal with issues related to their lives – the interests and concerns of young adults today. This salient feature of contemporary popular songs is in tandem with the themes expressed in young adult literature. Young adult literature is a genre that presents the conflicts, life events and language use of young adults. More importantly, almost all the characters in the texts are young people (Bushman and Bushman 1997; Brown and Stephens 1995).
In relation to young adult literature, eight common themes in young adult literature have been identified by Lukens and Cline (1995): 1. Becoming self-aware and responsible for one’s own life. 2. Understanding marriage and parenthood. 3. Fostering hope despite differences. 4. Becoming award of interdependence. 5. Dealing with a sense of isolation. 6. Judging by appearances. 7. Understanding the nature of society. 8. Acknowledging contradictions. Learners, who are young adults, will be able to relate to these issues if these issues are present in the text used in their lessons.
Young adult literature is one of the genres that allows young adults to think and make connections to their lives. To help establish the relationship between texts and students’ experience, McRae (1991, 1996) suggests that texts that are imbued with representational language be used. Representational language, as opposed to referential language, engages the mind and not merely informs the readers. The utilization of representational language learning materials allows for the affective domain to be drawn into the educational experience.
Not only do these materials promote affective learning, they also encourage interaction between students and texts, among students themselves, between teachers and students, and students and society. Songs are useful as representational materials. The lyrics are exploitable for interpretation and discussion. The best songs to use in the classroom are those which have a story and may contain a conflict, a point of view or certain social engagements or issues (McRae, 1991). For the purpose of this paper, the song that will be discussed is Somewhere I Belong by Linkin Park, a contemporary popular music group.
This song fulfils all the requirements of a young adult literary text. The representational language in the lyrics stimulates students to consider the ideas and connect them to their own experience. The song deals with young adult issues, especially those related to the sense of isolation and awareness of the responsibility towards one’s life. Myers (1992) states that “literature gives strategies for living”, and the song, Somewhere I Belong, can provide the needed “survival kit” for young adult listeners and learners.
Pedagogical Implications for the Use of Reader Response Theory Fish (1980) suggests that texts in themselves do not have any meaning. According to reader response theory, the interpretation of the texts depends on several factors, such as the reader’s knowledge of textual conventions, psychological, cultural, social and experiential experiences (Beach 1993). Generally, assumptions of reader response theory are based on the following: 1. Meaning is not contained in the text, but is derived from an interaction between the content and structure of the author’s message and the experience and prior knowledge of the reader. . Readers comprehend differently because every reader is culturally and individually unique. 3. Examining readers’ responses to text is more valid than establishing one correct interpretation of text meaning. (Chase and Hynd, 1987: 531) Table 1: Views of the song No. Expressed Views Frequency 1 The importance of knowing oneself 10 2 The importance of looking for direction in life 6 3 Do not escape from problems 4 4 Think positively 4 5 Loneliness 3 6 Help express frustrations 3 7 The importance of freedom 3 8 Young adults have their right 2 9 The importance of finding own happiness 2 0 Concerns of survival in the future 2 11 Be strong 2 12 Making choices in life 1 13 Reflection is a part of life. 1 14 Learn to let go and to forgive 1 15 Be confident 1 16 Reason for committing suicide 1 17 Leslie Cheung 1 18 Urgency to solve problem immediately 1 19 “Happy is he who is content. ” 1 20 Don’t be afraid of speaking up 1 21 Pain of a loser 1 22 Examinations 1 23 Take life easy 1 24 Thankful for being alive 1 25 An encouraging song 1 Total 55 In reader response theory, the concerns are readers’ thoughts, responses and feelings (Rosenblatt, 1991).
Thus, using reader response theories, our learners can be invited to participate in the negotiation of meaning of the text. Instead of being recipients of information, they actively create meaning based on their experience and history (Probst, 1994). The Study An activity using a song was carried out with 84 low proficiency students from three English Language Proficiency classes. The students are all Malaysian Chinese in a tertiary institution, between the ages of 17 and 21 years. As all the students fall in the category of young adults, I chose a song that was of interest to them.
The song that was used for the lesson was Somewhere I Belong, by an American group called Linkin Park, a song that had the most airplay in Malaysian radio stations when the lesson was conducted. In the class activities that were carried out, the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing were utilised to elicit students’ responses. This activity required students to read, listen to, and speak about the lyrics of the song. Finally, students were required to give a written response to the song. Students were constantly asked to relate their own ideas or experience during all the activities.
In the pre-listening stage, students were asked questions pertaining to their feelings. Before the actual listening activity, students attempted to complete the lyrics of the song by filling in the gaps, based on their reading and understanding of the lyrics (see Appendix 1, Activity A). During the while-listening stage, students needed to listen to the song while checking their answers (see Appendix 1, Activity B). Students were then asked several questions to ensure their comprehension of the lyrics. They answered the questions orally (see Appendix 1, Activity C).
The questions in the comprehension activity ranged from literal to inferential questions, based on Barett’s taxonomy (Tollesfeson, 1989). As a follow-up to the reading activity, students were given the following phrases: ‘The song has reminded me about …’ and were asked to complete the sentence and give a short written response to the song (see Appendix 1, Activity D). This activity was carried out to gauge students’ understanding of the song and to give them the opportunity to connect the text to their own experiences. Students had a choice of presenting their responses in oral and written forms in all the above activities.
As a learner-oriented approach was used in this study, the questions were congruent with reader response and focused on personal response to the themes and ideas present in the text. This approach steered away from detailed linguistic study and encouraged students’ participation in the creation of meaning in the text. It was hoped that by using this approach, students were able to make the text their own. As students could also relate their personal experiences to the lyrics of the song, the reflection and connection between the song and their lives will indirectly be useful for their personal growth (Carter and Long, 1991).
Analysis of Data The analysis presented below is focussed only on the students’ written responses in Activity D. Eightyfour responses were collected after the activity. Students’ responses were categorised into three sections: expressing views of the song, relating personal experience to the song, and connecting to other songs. Fifty-five students expressed their views towards the song, while seventeen students related their personal experience to the song. Besides this, ten students mentioned other songs that have the same theme as ‘Somewhere I Belong’.
Two students wrote about their change in attitude towards English language songs. Views of the Song Generally, students see different positive messages encrypted in the lyrics of the song. They tend to present philosophical views about life and articulate mostly positive reactions towards the song. As shown in Table 1, ten students stated that “knowing oneself” is important. Six students indicated that it was important to look for direction in life. Being positive and not trying to escape from problems were the next two recurrent ideas that students expressed.
Other themes, such as loneliness, help express frustrations and freedom, young people have their right, the importance of finding own happiness, concerns of survival in the future and be strong, are the messages that students thought were present in the song. Out of twentyfive views only three were negative views. The other views of the song are given in Table 1. Relating Personal Experience to the Song As individuals’ experiences vary, the responses from students provide different dimensions of their life. Most students related the song with previous bad or unhappy experiences. These experiences were mostly related to the family or school.
Their responses showed that the home and school were the two places that were of importance in the students’ lives. The reflective process in this activity also provided the writer glimpse of the problems faced by his young adult learners. The learners seemed to lack self-confidence and the ability to assert themselves. The students’ responses, through the reflective process, also presented some positive remarks. Among these responses were: choose to be happy although life is difficult, be thankful for his or her friends, parents, freedom and trust for being in places when he or she belongs.
Table 2 presents the complete list of students’ association of personal experience to the song. Connections to Other Songs Using songs that appeal to learners can be a rewarding teaching experience as learners respond positively to that which they are interested in. As I was interested in finding out what other songs my students listen to, asking students to state titles of songs which have similar ideas proved quite useful. The students provided titles of songs, one of which was a song in Mandarin. Students also gave reasons why they chose these songs. The reasons that students gave were all positive as well.
Among the songs that were mentioned were “I Believe I Can Fly” and “I’m With You”. Table 3 provides the full list of songs and the reasons given by the students. After the activity, two students indicated that they had changed their minds about English language songs. One student mentioned that this activity had encouraged him or her to look for a message in songs in the future. Another student suggested that listening to the song had changed his or her view towards hard-rock music. Besides discovering that English language songs can be interesting and meaningful, both students said they had actually found a new way to learn English.
Table 2: Relating personal experience to the song No. Experience Frequency 1 In dream, a strong person; in life, a helpless person 2 2 Reminded of past experience (did not say what experience) 2 3 A friend who was lost 2 4 Accused of stealing classmate’s money 1 5 Left alone at home by parents when small 1 6 An unhappy grandmother 1 7 Life is difficult but choose to be happy 1 8 Being bottom in the class 1 9 Lost before and it is part of growing up 1 10 Lost between social expectation and own desire 1 11 Confused in studies 1 12 Scolded by mother 1 3 Always look for the purpose of living 1 14 Appreciate friends, parents, freedom and trust because these are the places where I belong. 1 15 Bad experience when first moved into the residential school 1 16 Miserable and discontentment during younger days 1 17 Disappointment in love 1 18 Bad relationship with family members 1 19 A cousin who was lost 1 20 Lack of freedom 1 21 Dual personality 1 Total 17 Discussion The students responded positively to the activities carried out while working on a popular song. They immediately recognised the song when they read the lyrics in the handout.
There was also enthusiasm on the part of the students as they wanted to know how the song would be taught in the class. Further, student involvement in all the different stages of the lesson was high and there was interaction between students and between teacher and students. Individual student’s views were accepted. Students also appreciated the fact that some of them shared similar views. Table 3: Connecting to other songs No. Title Reasons Frequency 1 I Believe I Can Fly 1. Perseverance 1 2. Confidence 2 I’m With You 1. Loneliness 2. Spend quality time with family 1 3 Do You Know What You Want? 1. Making choices . Confused in love 1 4 It’s All Coming Back to Me 1. Love 1 5 Losing Grip 1. Need not worry about life 2. Be happy 1 6 Stronger 1. Be strong 1 7 Beautiful 1. Love ourselves 2. Be strong 1 8 Min Tian Hui Gen Hao 1. Be positive (Mandarin Song) 2. Encouragement 1 9 My Way Learn how to protect oneself and do it in one’s own way 2 Total 10 Students’ written work has shown that interactive and reflective learning processes have taken place. Students’ general views of the song, the concerns in the song, and the students’ personal experiences are related to the common themes that appear in the young adult literature.
Most young adults are searching for their identity. The formulation of identity is a major task for young adults when they grow up (Erikson 1963). The changing social structure and human interaction have shaped their views of their surroundings. Being self-aware of their responsibilities towards their own lives and being positive are crucial in the process of their growing up. Students’ positive views towards the song show that they are able to identify the problems that are faced by the protagonist in the lyrics. They revealed their fear and confusion in life when they were asked to relate their personal experience to the song.
However, when they expressed their views towards the song, almost all of them agreed that the song had positive messages. Students’ views towards the song show that they acknowledge the importance of positive attitudes in life and the challenges that lie ahead. The students’ ability to connect with songs shows their ability of understanding different kinds of texts. Some students are able to compare, contrast and subsequently reorganise the information in different types of texts. Finally, the change of students’ views of songs indicate students’ discovery of a new learning tool besides the conventional language textbooks.
Conclusion Rosenblatt (1991) suggests that the education of youth cannot be in the formal didactic manner. Instead knowledge should be imparted through experiencing, absorbing, accepting, incorporating in the personality through emotional and aesthetic experiences. Songs are good teaching tools and good motivational tools. They facilitate the learning of a language in interesting and effective ways (Murphey, 1992; Cranmer 1993; Hardisty, 1993; Horner, 1993; Laroy, 1993; Kaur, 2001). Most of our students, especially those who stay in urban areas, have access to this form of popular culture.
Using a song that suits the teaching purpose but being able to not arouse interest among students is an activity done in vain. Therefore, songs that are chosen must be of students’ liking. The melody of the song must be contemporary. The lyrics should be of students’ interest too. Songs that touch upon young adult issues, such as isolation, frustration and certain ideology, are appropriate choices. Young adults are in a state of uncertainty when they grow up. Using songs as texts to help them cope with the growing pains is of utmost importance.
By adopting a learner-centred approach, students are able to participate, exploit and experience the meaning of the texts themselves. The interactive and reflective learning process will generate an abundance of language output from the students. Using songs as young adult literary texts to teach the language is a challenging task for teachers. It requires teachers to find out about students’ lives and concerns and also about what songs they are listening to. It is a student-centred approach that can be rewarding for both the teacher and students. References Beach, R. 1993.
A Teacher’s Introduction to Reader-Response Theories. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English. Brown, J. E. and Stephens, E. C. 1995. Teaching Young Adult Literature: Sharing the Connection. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Bushman. J. H. and Bushan K. P. 1997. Using Young Adult Literature in the English Classroom. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Carter, R. and Long, M. N. 1991. Teaching Literature. London: Longman. Chase, N. D. and Hynd, C. R. 1987. Reader response: an alternative way to teach students to think about text. Journal of Reading, 30(6): 530-539. Crammer, D. 1993.
Musical fantasy. Modern English Teacher, 2(3): 47-49. Erikson, E. H. (Ed. ). 1963. The Challenge of Youth. Garden city, NY: Anchor. Fish, S. E. 1980. Is there a text in this class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Hardisty, D. 1993. Music lives-live music in the classroom. Modern English Teacher, 2(3): 53-55. Horner, D. 1993. The sound of music: some pedagogic principles for using songs in class. Modern English Teacher, 2(3): 33-40. Kaur, N. 2001. Songs: food of love or meal for language learning. The English Teacher, XXX: 57-65. Laroy, C. 993. Using songs and music: an educative approach to language learning. Modern English Teacher, 2(3): 7- 13. Lukens, R. J. and Cline, R. K. J. 1995. A Critical Handbook of Literature for Young Adults. New York: Harper Collins College Publishers. McRae, J. 1996. Representational language learning: from language awareness to text awareness. Language, Literature & the Learners: Creative Classroom Practice, ed. Carter, R. and McRae, J. London: Longman. McRae, J. 1991. Literature with a Small “l”. London: Macmillan. Murphey, T. 1992. Music and Song. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. Myers, W. D. 1992.
Speech at the ALAN Workshop at the National Council of Teachers of English Fall Convention, Louisville, Kentucky. Probst, R. E. 1994. Reader-response theory and the English curriculum. English Journal, 83(3): 37-44. Rosenblatt, L. M. 1991. Literature-S. O. S.! Language Arts, 68: 444-448. Tollesfeson, James W. 1989. A System of Improving Teachers’ Questions. In English Teaching Forum, January 1989. Vethamani, M. E. ‘Learner Before Text and Teaching’. Paper presented at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Sri Lankan English Language Teaching Association, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 30th August to 1st September 2002.
Appendix 1 Activity A: Pre-Listening Activities 1. Read and complete the following sentences. When I am at home, I am not allowed to _______________________________________ because _______________________________________________________________. When I am in school, I am not allowed to ______________________________________ because _______________________________________________________________. When I am with my friends, I am not allowed to _________________________________ because _______________________________________________________________. 2.
How do you feel when you are not allowed to do certain things? Circle any words/phrases that can best describe your feelings. Angry Depressed Rejected Rejection is a part of life Sad MiserableRelieved Worry Discontent Others (please state): _____________________________________________________. 3. What would you do if you are not allowed to do certain things? I would ________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 4.
In your opinion, do you think your responses (as mentioned in your answers for question 3) will help you to face future challenges ? Yes/No/I am not sure, it is because ___________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Activity B: While-listening Activities 1. Read the lyrics and listen to the song carefully. Fill in each blank with a word only. Somewhere I Belong When this began I had nothing to say And I’d get lost in the nothingness inside of me ____________ ____________ ____________ ) And I’d let it all out to find 5 That I’m not the only person with these things in mind ( ____________ ____________ ____________ ) But all that they can see the words revealed Is the only real thing that I’ve got left to feel ( Nothing to lose ) 10 Just stuck, hollow and alone And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own [ Chorus ] I wanna ___________ I wanna ___________ what I thought was ____________ ___________ I want to __________ ____________ of the ___________ I felt so long (Erase all the pain till it’s gone ) 15
I wanna ___________ I wanna ___________ like I’m close to ____________ ___________ I want to ____________ ___________ I’ve ___________ all along Somewhere I belong And I’ve got nothing to say I can’t believe I didn’t fall right down on my face 20 ( I was confused ) Looking everywhere only to find That it’s not the way I had imagined it all in my mind ( So what am I ) What do I have but negativity 25 Cause I can’t justify the way everyone is looking at me ( Nothing to lose ) Nothing to gain, hollow and alone And the fault is my own and the fault is my own Repeat Chorus ] I will never know myself until I do this __________ ____________ ___________ And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed 30 I will never be anything till I break away from me ___________ ___________ ___________ ___________, I’ll find myself today [ Repeat Chorus ] I wanna ___________, I wanna ___________ like I’m somewhere I belong I wanna ___________, I wanna ___________ like I’m somewhere I belong 35 Somewhere I belong Activity C: Provide responses to the following questions. 1. Why did the “I” want to “let it all out to find”? line 1 ~ 7) 2. What is the “something” that “I” wanted all along? (line 13 ~ 18) 3. Why can “I” not justify “the way everyone is looking at me”? (line 20 ~ 29) 4. What is the way to find oneself according to “I”? (line 30 ~36) 5. Is it important how people think about you? Why do you say so? In your opinion, is finding a “place” which you belong important to you? Why do you say so? Do you think this song is positive or negative? Why do you say so? 6. List down three other songs which have similar ideas or message. Activity D: Write a short paragraph.
Use the following phrase to begin your paragraph. This song has reminded me about … 6. 2 Attachment 2 PARTICIPATION OF MANAGERS IN POSTGRADUATE STUDIES THROUGH DISTANCE EDUCATION BY DAING ZAIDAH IBRAHIM Doctoral Candidate Faculty of Educational Studies Universiti Putra malaysia Senior Lecturer Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR) Abu Daud Silong, Ph. D. Prefessor/Head Centre For Graduate Studies Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR) MALAYSIA 1 ABSTRACT Many theories and models have explained adult participation in campus-based postgraduate studies.
Recent trends indicated that more adults are enrolling in graduate programs through distance education. Experts noted that this is a shift of paradigm, which presents a new experience in learning, from the traditional teacher centered to a more flexible self-directed learning. This qualitative research intends to explore distance education students’ participation and experience in this kind of learning. It is based on an extensive semi-structured interview of five graduate students following a Master of Science in Human Resource Development program at Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Results of the research highlights why and how the students participate in distance learning, the experience they went through to perform equally well to be awarded the same degree as those who are studying in campus. INTRODUCTION Adult students today and that of the future will mostly come from the working population. They have a greater need a greater need to continue their education. They are not able to do so using the conventional means because of their work and family commitments. Thus distance education is the option. Distance education is perceived as providing the flexibility for them to continue their studies.
Besides, the constraints faced by conventional institutions in terms of teaching resources, space and facilities are forcing students to turn away from campus – bound learning. The constraints mentioned made them opt for a learning that can be carried out at their own time, pace and place. However, the option of distance education calls for a new approach in learning. Traditionally, full-time learning in campus has been characterized by high interaction and dependency on instructors. At the end of the spectrum, distance education provides minimal interactions between students and instructors.
While conventional learners have the tendency to be depend on teachers, it is believed that the success of the future would depend more on lifelong and selfdirected learners. Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) is among one of the universities in Malaysia that provides distance education at postgraduate level. Universiti Putra Malaysia distance education was first started in December 1995, on full-fee paying basis through the Institute for Distance Education and Learning (IDEAL). The first two programs offered were Bachelor of Computer Science and the MS in Human Resource Development (HRD).
The Bachelor of Computer Science program is delivered via the Internet and started as a pilot project with only 27 students. The MS HRD program is print-based and also started with a small number of about 19 students. This study will explore the distance education students’ participation and experience in the MS in Human Resource Development (HRD) program. The MS Human Resource Development program by distance education may certainly be termed innovative, in addressing educational needs of nontraditional students in non-traditional ways.
There are many theories and models that explain the participation of adults in adult education and lifelong learning. Although some are based on research there also those that are developed mainly from conceptual thinking. While most models are description of participation in didactic learning, very few are on distance learning specifically at the graduate level. While most of these participants had their undergraduate training by conventional method, their participation in the graduate program is a shift from campus face-to-face learning to self-directed and distance 2 earning. It is the purpose of this study to explain the gap created by this shift in learning. Why and how do the participants participate, how and why do they learn in order to perform equally well to be awarded with the same degree as those who are studying in the campus. The result of this study would have implications both in the theory and practice of adult and distance learning especially at the postgraduate level. Data collected on reasons for participation, coping abilities, problem faced, support needed and success can be used by educators to improve their programs.
Improvement would include strengthening support needed, tailoring learning packages for part-time and distance learners and overcoming problems at the providers end. DISTANCE EDUCATION AND OPPORTUNITY FOR PARTICIPATION Distance education today is a significant component of the educational system of most developed and developing countries. It sometimes become the educational strategy towards increasing the number of qualified manpower in the academic, vocational, technical and professional field. Distance education has existed in Malaysia for quite sometime. The need for a ontinuing and part-time education was stated in the Statement of Higher Education Planning Committee 1964. The statement was the mark for the introduction of distance education in Malaysia. However, it was only in 1971 that distance education courses at tertiary level were first offered in Malaysia. Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) took the lead by offering courses through the School of Humanities and the School of Social Sciences. For this purpose, the university established the Unit for Off-Campus Studies. Malaysia has nine universities formed mainly for teaching undergraduate courses.
The nine universities however, have a limited capacity to admit all qualified applicants thus depriving many of them the chance of pursuing higher education. This represents a waste of talent with the potentials to contribute significantly towards social and economics development of the country. The industries in Malaysia need its workforce to be educated so as to be innovative and competitive. The existing mode has been able to serve Malaysia’s needs well, but with the increasing demands, alternatives have to be found.
The necessity of obtaining higher education by alternative modes in unavoidable and the Malaysian government policies is increasingly turning to distance education as a means to increase student enrolment in institutions of higher learning. Besides USM, there are now five other local institutions of higher learning offering distance education programs in Malaysia, namely Institut Teknologi MARA (ITM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Malaya (UM) and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
All the institutions mentioned above are dual mode institutions. This means that courses are offered both in-campus and through the distance education mode. Many writers have attempted to define distance education. However, Keegan (1988) probably provides the most comprehensive definition. The writer prefers using the term “distance education” because it includes both distance learning and distance teaching. Distance learning is learning while at a distance from one’s teacher – usually with the help of pre-recorded learning materials. The learners are separated from their teachers in time and space but are still being 3 uided by them (Rowntree, 1992). Distance learning is used not only in education but also in much industrial and professional training. Keegan (1988) states that the main elements of a definition of distance education are: •? The separation of teacher and learner which distinguishes it from private study. •? The influence of an educational organization which distinguishes it from private study. •? The use of technical media, usually print, to unite teacher and leaner and carry the educational content. •? The provision of two-way communication so that the student may benefit from or even initiate dialogue. ? The possibility of occasional meetings for both didactic and socialisation purpose. •? The participation in an industrialised form of education which, if accepted, contains the genus of radical separation of distance education from other forms. The major distinguishing feature of distance education is that the learner is physically separated from the educator for most part of the learning process. Subsequently the student population comprises of varied demographic profiles. Contrary to what many believe distance learning is more student-centred than conventional learning.
Distance education would require the students to learn at their own paces and perhaps at their own place. An important criterion to make teaching and learning successful through distance education is by knowing the students. Distance learning involves a positive commitment to the widening of access to education and to the promotion of learner autonomy (Holmberg, 1990). Since adult learners are the fastest growing segment of higher education population in the world due to their work and family commitment, increasingly, distance education universities have seen the largest increase in enrolment by these adult learners.
Holmberg (1995) states that “distance education is often regarded as an innovation which gives students a high degree of independence”. Students are therefore required to take responsibility of their own learning. SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING AND PARTICIPATION IN DISTANCE EDUCATION Caffarella (1993) said that self-directed learning has contributed to our understanding of learning by identifying an important form of adult learning and providing insights into the process of learning, challenging to define and debate the salient characteristics of adult learners and expanding the thinking about learning in formal settings.
Self-directed learning does not necessarily mean solitary learning or isolation. Rather adults in self-directed learning seek assistance in the form of human and material resources like friends, experts in the content areas, books, magazines and videotapes. Considering the nature of distance education, self-directed learning is a necessary feature of participation. Self-directed learning also has contributed to the characteristics of adult learners. The central assumption here is that learning in adulthood means growth in self-direction and autonomy (Candy, 1991; Chene, 1983; Kasworm; 1983; Knowles; 1980).
Recall that one of Knowles’s four major tenets of andragogy is that “adults have a deep psychological need to be generally self-directing” (1980, p. 43). This learner characteristic of adults has become for many adult educators, including distance education providers one of the major goals of their instructional processes: allowing and, in some cases, teaching adults how to take more responsibility and control in the learning process. 4 In understanding learning, self-directedness has contributed towards fostering learner initiative and control in formal settings.
Distance education is formal but not traditional. This learner control in formal settings, according to Pratt (1988), comes in different forms, from learners wanting the instructors to primarily provide both the direction (what to learn) and the support (ways to go about learning), to learners being highly capable of providing their own direction and support. The willingness and ability of the learner, the content to be learned, and the situational context influence the amount of self-direction and learner control that students are willing to take and instructors are willing to allow in formal settings.
MOTIVATION FOR PARTICIPATION To answer the question “why” adults participate in distance learning needs an understanding of adult learning motivation. This needs a look into several theories namely Andragogy Theory, Characteristics of Adult Learners Theory, Margin Theory and Proficiency Theory. The first two theories, Knowles’s Andragogy and Cross’s CAL can be categorized as adult learners’ characteristics theories. Knolwes’s theory was based upon five assumptions, all of which are characteristics of adult learners as follows: •?
As a person matures, his or herself-concept moves from that of a dependent personality towards one of a self-directing human being; •? An adult accumulates a growing reservoir of experience which is rich resource for learning; •? The readiness of an adult to learn is closely related to the developmental tasks of his or her social role; •? An adult is more problem-centred than subject-centred in learning; and •? Adults are motivated to learn by internal factors rather than external ones The CAL theory was postulated by Cross (1981).
The theory was based upon two classes of variables namely, personal characteristics and situational characteristics. Personal characteristics include the psychological/developmental stages. These characteristics were presented along a continuum which reflects growth and development from childhood into adult life. Situational characteristics focused on variables unique to adult’s participation in learning activities namely, part-time versus full-time and voluntary versus compulsory participation.
Thus, adult learning according to Cross, is based on the interactions of these variables — the personal and situational characteristics. Generally, the theory was considered comprehensive in explaining “what and how” adults learn, but the variables were too broadly defined and it has yet to be empirically tested (Merriam and Caffarella, 1991). McClusky’s Margin theory assumes that the adult’s “load of life” needs to be balanced-up with the adult’s “power of life”. Load of life represents the adult’s development, roles, problems, and various responsibilities.
Power of life represents the knowledge and skills that an individual needs in life. If the power of life is greater than the load of life, there is a “margin in life”. Knox (1980) defines “proficiency” as “the capability to perform satisfactorily if given the opportunity”. This performance in all tasks involves same combination of attitude, knowledge and skill. Adult motivation and achievement in both learning activities and life roles depend upon the discrepancy between the current and the desired level of proficiency.
The purpose of adult learning, therefore, is to enhance proficiency in order to improve performance. 5 These two theories spoke more on the adult’s life situation – about their experiences, roles and responsibilities. Arshad (1993) said that these four theories perhaps reveal more about the characteristics and motives for participation in adult or continuing education. But, they devote little attention to the learning process. THE QUALITATIVE STUDY ON PARTICIPATION IN DISTANCE EDUCATION Based on the research question of this study, qualitative approach was deemed appropriate as its research methodology.
Specifically, the basic descriptive method was chosen because its research designs matches the nature of this study. In order to understand the managers’ participation in distance education, coping with distance learning, their problems, the support they need and their performance, this study primarily asked the question of “why” and “how” the participation was carried out. Qualitative methodology was therefore warranted for this study due to its nature. It was most suitable to “describe systematically the facts and characteristics of a given population or area of interest”. Merriam and Simpson, 1984). According to Merriam (1988), qualitative research questions are framed to seek meaning and understanding with respect to how people make sense of their lives, what people experience, and how they structure their social worlds. Patton (1987) said that the qualitative method permits an in-depth and detailed study of selected issues, cases or events. In addition, qualitative methodology “seeks to understand the perception, feelings and the knowledge of people”. It was not the intention or the concern for this study to be generalized.
It was up to the readers whether to generalize the findings or not. Like other similar studies, the goal was to understand the particular in depth (Merriam, 1992). In order to enrich the findings of this study, purposive sampling was used to select the managers participating in the distance education program. It was always the main concern for this kind of study to choose which sample would give the most information relevant to the focus of the study (Shamsuddin, 1995). Five managers participating in the program were purposefully sampled.
In this study semi-structured interview was used for data collection. Semi-structured interview can be used if certain information is required from all the respondents, (Merriam, 1988). It will allow the researcher to enter into the respondent’s perspective where the respondents can express their understanding about the phenomena in their own terms. The interview also permits greater depth of understanding compared to other techniques, especially when encouragement and good rapport can be established (Merriam and Simpson, 1984).
The researcher seeked the respondent’s permission to record the interviews which will be very useful for data analysis. Where the responses were tape recorded, the researcher only took field notes on information which were non-verbal. The recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim. The researcher offered the respondents to see the transcripts to check for mistakes in transcribing. The data collected were analyzed and reported according to themes. The researcher assumed that the managers would provide the information voluntarily with the promise of confidentiality by the researcher.
The researcher herself was also participating in a postgraduate program on a part-time basis although not through distance learning. Therefore the researcher had to remain objective throughout the interview and not to be sympathetic and supportive of what the managers had to say. 6 The researcher was also a management member of the institute that was providing the program where the managers were participating in. As students of the institute, the managers were already familiar and sometimes already know the researcher. They may have given information which they think the research would want to hear. FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
The findings of the study were discussed according to various themes: 1) The Opportunity To Participate In Postgraduate Program Through Distance Education Is Valued By The Managers 2) Getting A Higher Degree Is The Main Motivational Factor In Participating And Completing The Program 3) Support And Encouragement From Institutional Staff Helped Managers In Their Participation In Distance Education 4) The Ability To Carry Out Self Learning With The Right Kind Of Friends Was Important For The Success In Distance Education 5) Reference Materials And The Assistance Of Content Expert Were Important In Distance Education 6) Telephone Is The Best And Easily Used Technology For Interaction In Distance Education 7) Moral Support From Spouses And Family Members Are Important For Success In Distance Education 8) Voluntary Participation And Personal Commitment Helped Managers Go Through Distance Education The Opportunity To Participate In Postgraduate Program Through Distance Education Is Valued By The Managers
Getting acceptance into a postgraduate program by a public university is something that is considered not easy to comeby. Although the program is through distance learning it is still valued by them. It is the opportunity that is important to them. “I applied for admission into an MBA program but ‘tak dapat’ (did not get). But that was a fulltime program, at a public university too. So when I get this MS HRD, I ‘ambillah’ (take)”. Another manager also experienced rejection for a government sponsored graduate program that she applied for. Therefore when she was accepted into the MS HRD program she decided to take the challenge eventhough it was through distance learning. “I am glad this university people open their eyes and gave us the opportunity.
Distance education ‘tolong kami’ (help us), ‘yang ada masalah, cuti tanpa gaji kami tak mampu’ (those with problems, to go on no-pay leave, we cannot afford)”. Getting A Higher Degree Is The Main Motivational Factor In Participating And Completing The Program The managers were motivated to participate and complete the program as scheduled by the institution. Although they realized that upon completion they may be able to get promoted to a higher position or get another job, these are secondary to them. The main aim is to get a higher degree. As expressed by one manager, “if it is to get a better job and better pay, that’s not may aim. I want to get a Master degree”. Another manager said that she just loved learning. “I will not stop learning until I get a Dr. n front of my name, but first I must get a Master degree. If my friends when I was working in the 7 university dulu (before) can achieve that, why not me. My problem was to get a place to study. But when I got this distance education program, that was my chance. I need to improve myself, not in my job but in other ways. I ‘tak harap naik pangkat’ (I do not expect any promotion)”. Support And Encouragement From Institutional Staff Helped Managers In Their Participation In Distance Education Staff of the institution offering the program including the lectures themselves played an important role in helping the managers participating in distance education.
The encouragement and assistance from the lecturers were greatly appreciated by them. Lecturers were a great help if they were willing to see students who have problems with their studies, return students’ telephone calls, answer their e-mail and questions by fax. One manager described helpful lecturer as follows: “She really helped me a lot. She cared and will even call you in the house. At one time we talked for almost one hour on the telephone. She was helping me with my project paper. At that time I could not go to see her, because I lived in Johore Bahru at the time”. Another manager said that encouragement from lecturer could just be in a few words like “come on… finish your work fast and proceed to Ph. D. “.
These things were important to distance learners who sometimes felt isolated and needing human touch. The same manager also said that some lecturers put in a great effort in helping distance learners and also expressed their high expectations in their performance. “They expect you to do well, they trusted you to do well, eventhough you are a distance learner. Of course you’ll work hard and do not want to disappoint them”. Other support staff in the institute also played an important role in helping the managers while they were going through the program. Their assistance were seeked by postgraduate students from time to time in cases of delivering messages to lecturers or pertaining to some administrative matters.
In describing the cooperation of one support staff a manager said, “she was very cooperative and always patient, she made sure all my messages to the lecturers get delivered. I will remember her forever… “. The Ability To Carry Out Self Learning With The Right Kind Of Friends Was Important For The Success In Distance Education Managers participating in the distance education program must be able to carry out self-study. Being a distance learner a lot of their effort has to be put in planning and implementing their own learning. They found that in doing this they need the right kind of friends. Interdependence and not studying in isolation was important in distance education. I have to work very hard – we cannot totally depend on the lecturers and modules given to us. We have to discuss our studies with friends. Discussions help us and was very important. Besides we have to carry out our own activities like getting the information required”. Another manager said: “We need to work together with friends from the same course. Not anyone, they must be the type that like to discuss and cooperate. For example when we divide the work for an assignment they must do their part. “Ada yang hendak tumpang je, tapi tak hendak beri (there are those who want to be passengers only but do not want to give)”. 8 “Friends who are the same type must give and take in studying together.
We reminded each other about our assignments and exams. We spent hours together, usually at one of our offices discussing assignments and preparing for our exams”. One manager commented: “I find that only half of the class want to involve themselves in discussion. The rest study on their own. If I want to get detailed explanation of one topic, I can sometimes ask my discussion group. We only see our lecturers when we go to UPM but that is not often”. Another manager added: ” I do not think I can study alone. No, no I need my friends, it is not possible in distance education”. Reference Materials And The Assistance Of Content Expert Were Important In Distance Education
The managers participating in distance education found that whatever provided in the program was not adequate for their study. The modules given and the number of interactions with lecturers were not enough to make them understand the subject being taught. They therefore depend on reference materials that they have to find themselves. “I even drive to Penang to look for books for my courses. ‘Tak kira berapa harga, beli juga’ (it does not matter how much they cost, I buy). I register myself as a member of USM library to get reference material. The materials in UPM library were not enough and too far for me. That was why I had to go the Penang.
Another manager said: ” I went to the National Library to get reference material. When we get materials we also exchange with friends. They gave us what the got and we gave them what we got. This way we help each other. Some subjects were hard for us to get materials and information. Sometimes we have friends among us who happen to work in the field we study. I remember for our Training Management course, it was easy for us to get materials because of our friends was involved in training in his work”. One manager said that some subjects were just too difficult to understand in studying through distance education. He said: “For my statistic course, I had to hire a tutor to teach me.
I could not understand the subject just through the materials and the lessons given by the lecturers during the meetings. I had to pay the tutor from my own pocket. But it was worth it, I did well for the course”. Another manager commented: “There was one course where we had three lecturers teaching, there was no continuity in the content. We were jumping from one topic to another. ‘Kami bagaikan didera’ (we were as if being punished). We had to look for a lot of materials on the subject and study on our own”. Telephone Is The Best And Easily Used Technology For Interaction In Distance Education The managers participating in the distance education programs live far from one another.
However in carrying out their studies they need to communicate with each other. They found that the telephone was the best form of communication, the easiest and the fastest. 9 One manager said: “I used the telephone a lot. My telephone bill was high. I called my friends to get quick answers and explanations on certain matters that I have problems on. It was the fastest way, and easiest. We even do our discussion on the phone. We must not be stingy. We have to spend to study”. Another manager said that her use of the telephone was most frequent during the initial past of the program. Although she had to spend a lot of money she thought it was worth it. During the initial stage of my study, especially the first two semesters I really felt the need to communicate frequently with my friends and lecturers. So I called them often. That was the easiest way to get in touch. I call all my lecturers. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I didn’t. I just could not study alone. I was not sure of many things. I need to ask, I need to discuss. That gave me confidence”. Another manager said that he was aware of other forms of communication besides the telephone. He said that he believed in using other technologies in communicating like the e-mail and the fax. Somehow he used the telephone most because it was simple and convenient. “My e-mail sometimes do not get answered or even they do if they were always late. My fax messages and uestions to my lecturers ‘selalu hilang’ (always lost). I like to call, if they are there good, I get quick answers and I was always satisfied. But if they were not there ‘tak apa’ (never mind). I called again until I get them. Sometimes you just need to talk, hear a voice! ” Moral Support From Spouses And Family Members Are Important For Success In Distance Education The managers found that spouses and family members contributed a lot to their success in distance education. In the process of carrying out their studies they had to fall back on the support of their spouses and family members. “I really appreciate my wife’s support. She was really understanding.
You know, one of my discussion mate was a woman. She always called me in the house. My wife ‘tak jealous langsung’ (not jealous at all). ‘Dia yang tolong sampaikan mesej kalau I tak ada’ (she helped to convey messages if I am not in). When I was very busy, you can say I neglect my family, especially during exam time. My wife will do everything for the family. I also do my assignments in the office and come home late at night. My wife understands and the children too. They know ‘Papa sibuk’. (Papa is busy). The managers recognized the fact that without such a support it would be difficult for them to continue the program. One woman manager said: “My husband was a great help.
When I was trying to complete my project paper, he allowed me to work day and night without having to do anything else. He even brought home the office computer for me to use because something was wrong with ours during that time”. Voluntary Participation And Personal Commitment Helped Managers Go Through Distance Education The managers participated in the distance education on voluntary basis. This means that they enrolled in the program at their own personal expense, paid their own fee and were not sponsored by any party. It is also common for adults participating is such program to be sponsored, usually 10 by their employers or their participation were made compulsory in fulfillment of certain requirements. The managers participating voluntarily were otivated to complete the program although they may face problems and difficulties. “There were times when I felt like giving up because distance education entailed a lot of problems. The modules given