University of Tasmania

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Teaching strategies used by informal teachers : exploration of use and development of an explanatory model

posted on 2023-05-26, 19:39 authored by Harrison, Lesley Bronwyn
National and international reports and inquiries record the need to improve opportunities for people to engage in ongoing learning throughout their lifetime which has resulted in unprecedented interest in community learning and lifelong learning. Formal, non-formal and informal learning within community, organisational or workplace environments are fundamental opportunities for lifelong learning. The processes of informal teaching and learning could be valuable resources for a community, and their presence may explain why some communities can be vibrant, resilient, and maintain a quality of life for their members, while others lack stability. The significance of this study to the field of adult education is in identification and analysis of the perceptions and actions of informal teachers. Knowing who the informal teachers in a community are and how they perceive themselves and document their actions as informal teachers will contribute to our understanding of the informal teaching and learning process from a teaching perspective. The purpose of this study was to locate people deemed to be informal teachers in a community and to examine their role, characteristics, and teaching strategies and actions in informal learning interactions. Using a detailed sampling technique (Community Election Survey) and a verification survey, the community identified thirty informal teachers in Rivertown, a rural community in Tasmania, Australia. The identified informal teachers were not kin, work colleagues, nor necessarily friends of the informal learners. Naturalistic in design, this study used a qualitative case-study method in which the informal teachers were interviewed using a semi-structured schedule, they kept diaries of social interaction for one week, and audio-tape recorded social interactions, and the researcher observed the informal teacher in action. The data from the interview were analysed for categories of meaning and the diaries and audio-tape recorded interactions were content analysed. The categories which emerged from the interview data revealed that the informal teachers confidently perceive themselves to have credibility, interpersonality, and dynamism. They are approached by informal learners because of their credibility, experience and expertise and their involvement in community group membership ahead of their qualifications, employment or hobbies. Their interpersonal characteristics, sense of belonging, social network, and availability contribute to community cohesion and wellbeing. They were depicted as animated and able to accept challenges because of their dynamic characteristics and involvement in community activities. An optimum environment of heterophilous contact (not necessarily those with an affinity) and the exchange of new information, knowledge, and skills, and a homophilous relationship (considered an affinity) for social support and wellbeing was evident. Data from the diaries revealed informal teachers operate in everyday activities through face-to-face interaction. Unhindered by industry requirements, professional bodies, or policy directions, informal teachers are not constrained in teaching and learning design. There is equal status between informal learner and teacher, informal teaching methods used are \discuss\" \"bounce ideas\" \"advise\" and \"show\" and these are embedded in and supported by social talk. The informal teaching processes promote a high volume of interaction discussion brainstorming and reflection and are used to plan inquire solve problems and share ideas applicable to real life tasks and current situations. Through their characteristics attributes and 'social teaching methods' informal teachers are in a good position to act as agents in social action. The use of informal teachers as agents however is reliant on a community that has a clear self-image as a collective identity and geared up to fight a common goal and vision. The conclusions from the study have implications for adult educators who design learning opportunities and community developers who are in the business of fostering wellbeing sustainability and activity. In communities experiencing renewal and change the informal teacher is an invaluable resource to enhance vibrant resilient learning communities."


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Copyright 2003 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis ( M.Ed. )--University of Tasmania, 2003. Includes bibliographical references

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