UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learning assistance services for adult basic education in British Columbia Lee, Jo-Anne


The main purpose of this thesis was to investigate current provisions for learning assistance to adult basic education (ABE) students in British Columbia's colleges and provincial institutes. A review of the literature in both adult basic education and learning assistance revealed little that was related to the topic delineated. Because of the lack of attention paid to the topic, the review of literature examined present knowledge about the characteristics of ABE students and implications for program planning and instruction in ABE. Following a review of learning assistance literature, it was concluded that there is at best, limited recognition of the adult basic education students' need for learning assistance. Some conclusions for guiding the development of learning assistance services to ABE students were formulated. The study included analysis of the need for ABE programs in British Columbia using Census data. Current provisions for ABE programs in B.C. post-secondary institutions (excluding universities) were also examined. While a need clearly exists, provincial ABE programs were found to be unorganized and disjointed so that programs did not match the documented needs. Comparison of ABE programs across institutions was limited because of differences in program objectives, record keeping procedures and program delivery. The nature and extent of ABE programs currently offered by B.C. post-secondary institutions, on a system-wide basis, were found to bear little relationship to the provincial distribution of the undereducated population. Data on those currently being served by ABE programs were found to be fragmented and unreliable, therefore few generalizations could be made about those currently being served in ABE programs and the target population as a whole. Having established a context of ABE programs in B.C., the current provisions for learning assistance were investigated. A survey of 17 post-secondary institutions was conducted utilizing personal interviews and on-site visits. Learning assistance offerings were compared according to their objectives, services provided, facilities, organization, funding sources, costs, and staffing arrangements. Findings were classified into three categories: 1) campus learning assistance centres (seven institutions), 2) off-campus learning assistance services (eight institutions), and 3) ABE programs without learning assistance services (four institutions). Two institutions offered both a campus-based as well as an off-campus learning assistance service. Several problems were identified including: 1) lack of a uniformly accepted definition for learning' assistance, 2) lack of purposive funding, 3) a confused distinction between traditional ABE instruction, non-traditional ABE instruction and learning assistance services, 4) varying degrees of institutional support and 5) an inability to report and rationalize activities as actually conducted. Several suggestions for further research were offered.

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