Academic Access and New Learning

By Mandell, Alan; Herman, Lee | Adult Learning, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Academic Access and New Learning


Mandell, Alan, Herman, Lee, Adult Learning


Over the past 30+ years, many colleges have made themselves more accessible for adult students. These innovations include flexible scheduling, online learning, professionally-oriented degrees, and credit for what students already know (Michelson & Mandell, 2004). Of course there is more work to be done, particularly in the areas of financial aid for the very large number of adult part-time college students (Moore, 2006; Chronicle of Higher Education, 2008), as well as in the areas of academic support and advising (Tait & Mills, 2003). But undoubtedly, these progressive changes have made it possible for many adults to get into school, stay there, and finish their degrees.

Once we begin to question and alter traditional academic learning in these very pragmatic ways, other possibilities for innovation appear (Hall, 1991). Indeed, sometimes we are happily surprised at how much and how well we can alter our standards of what students should and do know, as well as how we can effectively work with them (Herman & Mandell, 2004). Our goal in this paper is to present two cases that exemplify these practical and academic innovations. In one example, a faculty mentor and student collaboratively improvise new learning within an individualized learning contract. The other example is about a mentor-evaluator and student discovering a new way to construe prior experiential learning neither had anticipated.

Two Cases

Improvising Learning

Harry had already written one novel, continued to experiment with poetry and memoir, and had a plan for a second piece of fiction. The four main characters whose lives he had already sketched out had come to the city and taken up different jobs: a fire fighter, a bicycle mechanic, a cook, and a part-time actor. Harry wanted to learn more about their work lives; he wanted to gain insight into their daily routines and their feelings about their jobs. He wanted to use this guided independent study to talk with people at work in hopes of giving his fiction more depth and insight. He wanted to get it right.

In many ways, I thought, what Harry wanted to do was quite straightforward. It isn't unusual to find a Social Science Department offering a course on the Sociology of Work. Terkel's Work (1997) is a classic and, I imagined, would get at occupational diversity, as would Gig: Americans Talk about their Jobs (2001). Also, Rose's The Mind at Work (2005), a book Harry knew, could be a provocative way for him to tease out levels of skill and care that often go unnoticed. Sennett's The Culture of the New Capitalism (2007) could help him see a contemporary social analyst examining the subtle links between identity and macro-economic shifts. And, along the way, as he prepared for his work interviews, Harry could learn more about research using human subjects. So far, Harry's project had a ready-made home in the academy--one that would comfortably allow him to explore work in a solid academic context in his own way and for his own purposes.

Yet, quite quickly, something happened. As Harry began to read about work, and as we talked in our regular meetings, he also began to ask questions about "knowing" itself. "How do we really know what others experience?" he wondered. What access do we, as researchers, really have to the ideas, the reactions, the physical moves, and to the tacit understandings of a person at work? Is objectivity ever possible? Harry became fascinated by the role of the "personal" in any work--whether the work of the bankers, bricklayers, and bicycle mechanics he'd been reading about, or even the work he and I were doing right now as scholars.

This fascination prompted a change in our plan of study. We began to improvise and to grapple for relevant sources. He and I asked friends and colleagues for suggestions. In this way, Harry began to read about the reflective process, about the many methodological debates that focused on whether the "personal narrative" had any academic legitimacy at all, and about new experiments in auto-ethnography.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Academic Access and New Learning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.