Ghent University (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 9282-9289
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.2417
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
Engaging in lifelong learning is important. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of participating. Although these benefits could be of most value to low-educated adults, they are often the ones that are not participating [1].

Research on barriers to participation for low-educated (LE) adults is scarce and existing literature often has its shortcomings. For example, a lot of studies only focus on employed adults hereby reducing participation barriers to situational and institutional constraints and neglecting psychosocial barriers [2]. Evidence exists that some psychosocial barriers (such as negative attitudes towards learning, low self-confidence) are more present in LE-adults’ non-participation, due to negative prior learning experiences [3]. But in general, not much research has been conducted on psychosocial barriers of LE-adults.

The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB [4]) is a well-known framework and is very suitable to determine psychosocial barriers. It states that the intention to perform a behavior can be predicted by 3 constructs: perceived behavioral control (PBC), perceived social norms (PSN) and attitudes (ATT).

In March 2021, we administered a questionnaire (N= 563) on lifelong learning (LLL) barriers that included all 3 TPB-constructs (PBC, PSN and ATT). In this paper, we want to study whether and how PSN, PBC and ATT regarding participation in LLL differ between low- (LE), medium- (ME) and high-educated (HE) adults.

For example, to measure PSN, perceived opinions of 5 relevant reference categories were questioned (i.e., partner, friends, family members, colleagues, and employer).

Preliminary results show that there is a significant difference between groups (p < .001) for all reference categories. There is a significant difference in PSN between LE- and HE-adults (ranging from p < .001 to p = .011) and between ME- and HE-adults (p < .001).

HE-adults perceive the highest social pressure to participate in lifelong learning, while ME-adults perceive the least pressure (though not significantly different from LE-adults).

For both LE-, ME- and HE-educated adults, the employer is the reference category that exerts the most social pressure regarding participation, the partner is the second most influencing reference category.

The fact that LE-adults feel less social pressure than HE-educated adults (from all reference categories) to participate in lifelong learning may possibly explain differences in participation rates between LE-and HE-educated adults. Suprisingly, there are no differences in social pressure between LE-, and ME-educated adults. However, research shows that participation rates between LE-, and ME-educated adults do differ. Results for PBC and ATT may explain this difference. These results will be presented in the final paper and presentation.

[1] Desjardins, R. (2015). Participation in adult education opportunities: Evidence from PIAAC and policy trends in selected countries - Background paper for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
[2] Kyndt, E., Govaerts, N., Keunen, L., & Dochy, F. (2013). Examining the learning intentions of low-qualified employees: A mixed method study. Journal of Workplace Learning, 25(3), 178–197.
[3] Illeris, K. (2006). Lifelong learning and the lowskilled. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 25(1), 15–28.
[4] Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (2010). Predicting and changing behavior. Taylor & Francis Group.
Lifelong learning, psychosocial barriers, social norms.