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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of collective investigation as an adult education method Titterington, Lee


The purpose of this study was to determine whether one form of non-formal adult education, collective investigation (C.I.), significantly increased an individual's ability to formulate problems. Collective investigation is an adult, non-formal, group educative process. Through C.I., participants identify, isolate and critically question their "social reality." Learning occurs through self-reflection and shared experience. The concept of individual experience was used as the basis for the framework which guided this study. C.I. provided a vehicle to identify and transform everyday problems facing the participants. A hypothesized model was developed to describe the process of problem formulation. This model draws upon the literature regarding C.I. and "practice knowledge," an application of adult learning in the work environment, to describe potential learning through a collective educational process. The study used a quasi-experimental research design to examine the affect of an intensive C.I. workshop experience on individual's problem formulation abilities. The experimental group was compared with two control groups: 1) a more traditional approach to adult education (pre-readings and didactic lecture), and 2) a non-treatment control group. The lecture method was not seen as an alternative method to teach problem formulation but was used as another type of control group. The data source was representative samples of child welfare personnel employed in British Columbia. All groups were pre and posttested, using a semi-structured instrument. Nine research hypotheses centered around learner information-production and problem formulation strategies were tested by ANCOVA. The results were significant in several instances, allowing for the rejection of four of the original nine null hypotheses. However, in all nine instances the C.I. group scored the highest, suggesting a general trend. The results showed the collective investigation workshop experience significantly increased participant production of information. The workshop group also demonstrated a significant increase in specific, occupational information which was used for individual problem formulation. Workshop training for other applications of the production of information, (identification of contextual variables and problem solving) was not provided. The scores in these applications did not significantly increase. In addition, the findings showed that a significant difference exists between the perceptions of the C.I. group and the Lecture group. The individuals in the C.I. group perceived the activities and structured interaction of collective investigation to be beneficial to their learning. However, this study showed no impact on qualitative aspects of learning. Based on these findings, it was concluded that collective investigation affected group communication and encouraged the development of supportive networks. Furthermore, collective investigation promoted individual confirmation and enhanced "personal power" providing effective motivation for learning. The opportunity to practice new skills during the collective investigation process also developed performance strategies. Since such outcomes affect instructional design and the practice of non-formal adult education, they merit consideration among the range of adult education methods available to adult educators.

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