Professional development and professionalization of adult education in Cyprus: views and perceptions of adult educators

Ioannou, Nicoletta (2018) Professional development and professionalization of adult education in Cyprus: views and perceptions of adult educators. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Adult educators have been identified in the academic and policy literature as crucial to the success of national and regional strategies to deliver quality teaching to adult learners who require new knowledge and skills to meet changing social and economic needs. However, the majority of adult educators are part time practitioners who frequently lack any formal training or specialized expertise for teaching adults (Andersson, Köpsén, Larson and Milana, 2012; Jarvis, 2004). Across the world, limited attention is given to their professional development, leaving the majority of them to assume this responsibility by themselves. This is the case in Cyprus. The Cypriot adult education sector is characterised by part-time practitioners with low pay, limited professional development opportunities and uncertain career prospects. The professionalization of the sector and the development of adult education as a recognised profession has not been a priority.

This study used a mixed-methods approach rooted within the pragmatic paradigm. This allowed a range of opinions to be heard, analysed and interpreted, and for some conclusions to be drawn regarding the ‘essential features’ of professional development and how these can contribute to the professionalization of the adult education sector in Cyprus. Questionnaires and group interviews were used to understand the perceptions of adult educators regarding their professional development and to identify emerging issues relevant to their professional identity and to the professionalization of the adult education field in Cyprus. Policy-makers and academics were also interviewed.

The findings demonstrate the high levels of motivation that adult educators have to participate in professional development both to improve their teaching competences and to meet the needs of their learners. They reveal the personal fulfilment that adult educators gain from their work, despite their low professional status and uncertain prospects. The research shows that adult educators seek professional development focused upon classroom-based and didactical skills that can make them better teachers of adults. The establishment of a supportive environment, identification of adult learners’ needs, acknowledgment of adult educators’ prior experience, placing the learner at the centre of the teaching process, reflective practice and experiential learning, are seen as important components of professional development.

The research findings have important implications for policy and practice in Cyprus. They inform recommendations for systematizing the adult education sector, defining its philosophical framework and priorities, and establishing a responsible body to monitor the professional development of adult educators and the sector in general. There are implications for practice; that the developmental needs of adult educators can be met through systematic professional development provision and that this should draw upon key stakeholders (adult educators, academic organizations and professional development providers) for its design.

Finally, the research contributes to professional practice and academic discipline by providing a better understanding of adult educators working in this sector, the challenges they face, how they define their professional identity and their perceptions on how to improve their professional future. By offering insights into professional development and professionalization from the perspective of adult educators, it is hoped that the research can contribute towards positive change for adult education in Cyprus, to the advantage of educators and learners, and thereby to the advantage of Cypriot society in general.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Holford, John
Speight, Sarah J.
Keywords: adult educators, professional development, professionalization
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 51517
Depositing User: Ioannou, Nicoletta
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2018 13:22
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 18:15

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