About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3508-3515
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain

OPPORTUNITIES FOR LIFELONG LEARNING WITHIN VOLUNTEERING

S. Darley-Nolan

University of Manchester (UNITED KINGDOM)
The act of volunteering is often promoted as a way of gaining skills, accessing informal and non-formal learning opportunities and has even been described as “a crucial instrument in the life-long learning strategy within the European Union” (CEV, 2006). However, there has been limited research into the opportunities for lifelong learning within the context of volunteering and this is a largely unexplored area within educational research.

This paper presents my ongoing PhD research, which explores the learning experiences of volunteers within three UK based health and social charities. In particular, the research focuses on how these volunteers are being trained to perform service-providing roles. Such roles, which directly support users of the charity’s services, can be challenging and often address complex issues. Therefore initial and ongoing training is a vital part of the volunteer process.

This study has taken a multiple case study approach using multiple qualitative methods. Research findings so far suggest that training in this context does not simply just provide necessary information to volunteers but offers a powerful space for continuous learning. An important learning resource within training across all cases is the multiple perspectives and histories of participating volunteers and staff, and volunteers benefited from having the space to share these experiences and expertise. Through training volunteers gained the confidence needed to perform their role, but they also gained a deeper understanding of and increased confidence for talking about the issue of the charity. Whilst in some cases this personal learning led to career changes or further study in formal education, most prominently it enabled collective transformation as volunteers contributed to wider awareness raising, both within and outside of their volunteer role.

In this paper, I draw upon social theories of learning and in particular Activity Theory, to theorise learning in the volunteer context as a continuous, ongoing process with the potential for transformation for volunteers, the organisations they are volunteering within and their wider communities. By studying this relatively unexplored environment of non-formal learning I hope that the findings will be useful in increasing understanding of the different areas in which lifelong learning can be supported.
@InProceedings{DARLEYNOLAN2015OPP,
author = {Darley-Nolan, S.},
title = {OPPORTUNITIES FOR LIFELONG LEARNING WITHIN VOLUNTEERING},
series = {8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-2657-6},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {3508-3515}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Darley-Nolan
TI - OPPORTUNITIES FOR LIFELONG LEARNING WITHIN VOLUNTEERING
SN - 978-84-608-2657-6/2340-1095
PY - 2015
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2015
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2015 Proceedings
SP - 3508
EP - 3515
ER -
S. Darley-Nolan (2015) OPPORTUNITIES FOR LIFELONG LEARNING WITHIN VOLUNTEERING, ICERI2015 Proceedings, pp. 3508-3515.
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