Overcoming People’s Perception of Education in a Community Learning Setting. Strategies to Help Learners Engage in Their Own Learning


The intent of this paper is to explore how to engage reluctant adult learners who may have barriers to education. These can include language barriers, past experience, family life, and not valuing education or themselves; all which can impact learning. Some learners expect courses to be based on traditional teaching methods, for example being teacher led, and presume it will be like school. Some are also surprised at the amount of paperwork that is required, from enrolment forms to learner journals and the formalities of Adult Community Learning (ACL). This paper includes two learner case studies that explore strategies researched through reading and techniques trialled in sessions. Key findings show tutors have to build a strong relationship in a safe environment. Guidance and suggestions for tutors can be found in the strategies sourced for this paper. Adjustments to teacher practice can be shown to have an impact on engaging learners. These include understanding the learners’ motivation, making learners feel safe, respected and valued, using their contexts as learning opportunities, getting to know learners personally, showing openly that the tutor learns from the learner, listening and acting on learners’ opinions, building bonds between learners, sharing emotions with them, and signposting for progression. Tutors and community courses can offer opportunities for reluctant learners to engage in education, helping to lower their barriers and build self-confidence. However, suitability of venues, courses offered, and the recruitment process can be reassessed to make further impact.


Community Education; Learner Engagement; Teaching Strategies; Barriers to Learning

How to Cite

Kerr, H., (2017) “Overcoming People’s Perception of Education in a Community Learning Setting. Strategies to Help Learners Engage in Their Own Learning”, Teaching in Lifelong Learning 8(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/till.2017.04









Helen Kerr





Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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This article has been peer reviewed.

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