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ENGAGING RELUCTANT LEARNERS – REFLECTIONS ON WHAT WORKS

S. Peart

Nottingham Trent University (UNITED KINGDOM)
This paper explores the issues associated with the responsibilities placed upon tutors in trying to develop inclusive learning environments in which all students are supported to engage with learning and achieve their potential. The paper builds on and extends original research working with Black males studying in two East Midlands (England) further education colleges, completed over a 15 month period, together with personal reflections of critical incidents which occurred over time and provide insights into the life stories of learners. Primary research adopted a phenomenological approach which provided opportunities to see beyond the participants' immediate realities and created opportunities to understand learners' lives from their individualised, situated perspectives, while producing minimal interference to their daily experiences. A variety of qualitative research instruments were used to capture the research participants' voices including focus groups, individual interviews and observations which provided rich research data. Reasons why some learners may choose not to engage with learning are suggested and the barriers students may encounter when attempting to access learning are identified. Using an active reflection process the paper develops the theme of learner access and considers how individual tutor behaviour can have a direct influence on learner behaviour. The paper suggests how tutors can use information gained through from their personal reflections to help them make informed decisions about their future practice when teaching and working with learners and proposes strategies which may be useful in promoting greater learner involvement.