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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Lifelong education : definition, agreement and prediction Shak, Therese W.H.


Lifelong education, promulgated by Faure et. al. (1972) and elaborated by UNESCO, has been difficult to implement. This is because its central components are not well identified and it calls for a restructuring of education systems. Moreover, advocates of lifelong education know little about the extent to which educators agree with the concept, and need to recognize that those who occupy positions of power within present systems might resist changes that threaten their careers or the status quo. This study had three purposes: to clarify the concept through identifying its constituent elements and deriving postulates from them and thus contribute towards its definition, to develop an instrument to measure the extent to which educators accept these postulates, and to predict "agreement" with them. The attempt to contribute toward a definition of lifelong education was commenced by formulating seventeen characteristics incorporating ideas or assumptions of authors directly connected with UNESCO. An instrument, embodying 28 postulates, was created to measure "agreement" with lifelong education. An array of socio-demographic variables (age, sex, years of teaching experience, self-perceived progressiveness, types of schools, and position) and perceived career effects (on prestige, authority, job security, job difficulty and other advantages) were used as independent variables to predict agreement with lifelong education. The content, construct and face validity of the Lifelong Education Scale used to measure agreement, was established with the assistance of nineteen experts on lifelong education associated with UNESCO and 36 pilot subjects in Hong Kong. The LLE scale consisted of 28 item pairs (postulates and contrasts). Total scores were derived by summing over items. Although lifelong education involves variable interactions, there was no attempt to measure interactions among the postulates. The LLE Scale for the dependent variable "agreement" simply asked respondents to agree with postulates. The psychometric properties of two other instruments (the CE Scale and SD Questionnaire) used to measure independent variables were also examined and found to be acceptable. The three instruments were refined and, when ready, completed by 270 Hong Kong educators employed in 68 schools. It was hypothesized that "career effects" would not account for more variance in educators' agreement with lifelong education than socio-demographic variables. Various analyses, designed to examine the predictive power of different variable combinations showed the following. "Career effects" did not assert a greater influence than the combination of socio-demographic variables. Considered separately, the best predictors of agreement with lifelong education were "career effects" (on authority and job security). Of the socio-demographic predictors, the most powerful were sex, age and self-perceived progressiveness. When the conjoint effects of the socio-demographic and "career effects" variables were considered they explained 23 percent of the variance in agreement with lifelong education. All the variables, except "years of teaching experience" explained some variance in agreement with the postulates. But, 77 percent of the variance in "agreement" was unexplained. In this study "agreement" was assumed to stem from an interaction of socio-demographic and career effects. In retrospect, some of the unexplained variance may have resided in socio-cultural variables. As this study was conducted in Hong Kong, less than ten years before it was supposed to be returned to China in 1997, the political situation was unsettling for many people. There were somewhat intangible and difficult to measure variables which might have influenced the educators' agreement with lifelong education.

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