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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The future for adult education in British Columbia : a Delphi forecast Aitken, Mary Elizabeth

Abstract

In order to predict the possible future of adult education in British Columbia over a period of ten years to 1984, a panel composed of 20 adult education directors completed this Delphi forecasting study whose objective was to extrapolate current trends in adult education and to establish specific goals for those who will be involved in making decisions affecting future adult education policy. The methodology employed was that of the Delphi forecasting technique. The instruments' designs were a modification of those utilized by Enzer, et al. in their study: Some Prospects for Social Change by 1985 and their Impact on Time/Money Budgets. The study was conducted over a period of six months with three sequential rounds of questionnaires. The first questionnaire displayed thirteen graphed statistical indicators reflecting trends from 1961 to 1971 in areas relevant to adult education. Each indicator was accompanied by three possible developments related to the future changes in the indicator. The panel's responses to this material became the basis for the second questionnaire. The portion of the study dealing with the graphed statistical indicators was completed with the return of the second questionnaire. The second portion of the study which dealt with projected potential events, their likelihood of occurrence by 1984, their estimated effect on adult education, and the expected changes in adult education should the events occur constituted the material for both the second and third questionnaires. From 64 potential events listed on the second questionnaire, the panel narrowed the number of potential events to 29 for re-evaluation on the third questionnaire. This information plus the extrapolated graphed trends comprised the final data for analysis. The data received were both objective and subjective. With both portions of the study the total group response was considered (as in all Delphi studies) to lie in the median, therefore the results were analyzed only through the median response. Consensus was set at a 70 percent (or higher) panel agreement, and this consensus in addition to the number of reiterations of any individual trend constituted the refining of the data. An analysis of the panel's responses as well as the implications revealed seven specific trends in adult education. These trends were then correlated into goals presumed to be of primary importance in the next decade for those involved in decision making in the field of adult education. These goals were: the expansion of technical and vocational facilities, co-ordination of adult education services, training of all adult educators, recognition of and adjustment to the changing roles of British Columbia's community colleges and universities by adult educators, the recognition of and subsequent adjustment to the changing role of women in the labor force, the expansion and usage of existing public school facilities to embrace continuing education activities and the recognition of the equality of the status of adult education with present public school education. Accompanying each of the goals was a list of supporting events through which the goals might be achieved. It is an established fact that in a world of rapid technological change there can be a choice of futures. However, many routes or paths should be examined in order to choose the future most desirable in terms of achievement of objectives. The conclusions of this study should be considered therefore as representing one of a number of possible directions through which the best possible future for adult education in British Columbia may be implemented.

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