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Applied Research

Report shows adult education serious policy issue

How adults gain knowledge and the costs incurred are policy issues for P.E.I., according to a recently released report entitled Investing in Effective Adult Learning for Island Prosperity: Back to Basics.

The study examined the learning gain of 480 adult students across P.E.I. to determine how urban or rural locations, training factors, and socio-demographic characteristics influenced educational outcomes. Study results showed learners under age 25 were almost 17 per cent more likely to drop out of adult education programs, while learners in this age group who already had a high school diploma had lower literacy scores compared to older learners and learners who did not have a high school diploma. There were greater learning gains when entry level math marks were higher. Those with better math skills took less time to achieve learning goals.

The study presents significant concerns that should be considered during policy development in the area of adult education, as many Islanders require adult upgrading to achieve a high school credential or General Educational Development (GED) diploma to access post-secondary education, which will in turn lead to full-time employment.

Dr. Audrey J. Penner, Director of Adult Education, Learner Supports and Applied Research at Holland College, and lead investigator for this study, determined that training factors and urban versus rural locations did not affect learning gain. The research team also found that salaries for women in the study increased as their education improved, closing the wage gap between males and females somewhat.

"This study illustrates how learning gain links directly to baseline literacy skills in adult learning. So to help adult learners access post-secondary training, baseline literacy skills are fundamental to creating education and training opportunities. This study helps us to understand the efficacy of our adult learning system and the investment required to achieve the best educational outcomes for adult learners." Dr. Penner said.

This study was conducted by Dr. Audrey Penner, Holland College's Director of Adult Education, Learner Supports and Applied Research in collaboration with the department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Holland College's Applied Research division supports economic development for Prince Edward Island by solving technical and business problems for industry and community clients utilizing the college's expertise, equipment and facilities while enhancing the quality of college programs and services through unique learning opportunities for students.

As an NSERC eligible institution, Holland College's research mandate supports discovery and innovation as a key to Canada's economic prosperity. Holland College is compliant with Tri-Council policies on ethics. A Research Advisory Committee meets regularly to provide input into the Strategic Research Agenda, the policies governing research and intellectual property at Holland College.


For more information about this release, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: Friday, July 29, 2011