NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ914943
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-1045-1595
Front-Line Facilitating: Negotiating Adventurous Learning within Workplace Programs
Smith, Robert L.
Adult Learning, v22 n1 p18-22 Win 2011
Instructors are the front line of educational programs. They are the personnel, along with the learners, who enact the educational mission. Since educators work in relative isolation, studying their views is necessary to understand their professional actions. This is a study of the professional experiences of instructors within steel-mill learning centers called Career Development Programs (CDP). How these facilitators describe the learning outcomes they are charged with creating reveals much about how they regard their own careers and abilities. Deciding what and how to teach is a negotiated process with the learners who derive great voice in the educational centers through instructors' need to impact and retain the voluntary participants. The CDP educators' job security is based on their ability to satisfy learners directly, rather than upon fulfilling job-specific training goals of managers. The overarching purpose of these instructors' work is "to empower learners to access learning opportunities and realize individual goals." To fail to attract participants and then supply them with satisfying growth ends paid work for facilitators. There is no tenure, ongoing contract, or guarantees of future teaching assignments. Because of the pressure to successfully facilitate learning, CDP instructors' views of the learning being accomplished are key to their professional identities. From recorded and transcribed interviews, three themes were developed that indicate some of the major components of the instructors' perceptions about the learning they facilitate: (1) Learners develop themselves in ways that often cause joyful disbelief of their own accomplishments; (2) Facilitators, to function as successful and enduring learning catalysts, must pay very close attention to the affective domain; and (3) Adventurous learning trumps book learning in an industrial workplace learning program. As the study participants reflected on the learning outcomes, they revealed their own professional identities as front-line facilitators. Their instruction must blend real experience ("adventurous learning") with academic learning while simultaneously and skillfully merging their prescriptions for learning with participants' felt needs. Since there is strong preference for non-book approaches, facilitators learn to instruct actively with few or no printed materials. Careful attention to workers' feelings and self-perceptions enable veteran facilitators to help learners nurture themselves in many ways and discover joyful disbelief via their hands-on accomplishments. (Contains 1 figure.)
American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. 10111 Martin Luther King Jr. Highway Suite 200C, Bowie, MD 20720. Tel: 301-459-6261; Fax: 301-459-6241; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A