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Research Study Overview

Overview – The Learning Question,

CCL Research Study

Adult Learning and Meaning-Making


Guided Autobiography Developmental Exchanges

This Community-based Qualitative Research Study provides the research protocals and the collected participant’s adults’ learning reports while reminiscing, telling and preparing their life stories in guided autobiography workshops. Their learning reports were collected in workshops funded by a New Horizon Grant provided the University of Victoria. The Canadian Council on Learning funded the research study of the learning reports in Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia.

What is Available Here?

The qualitative research study is prepared in a book format for those interested in extracting, exploring, understanding, and further research potentials of adult learning associated with meaning-making events and activities enhancing social interactions and developmental exchanges in workshop activities.

The book includes background studies of adult learning, the context and protocols of the research study, and the collected learning reports from participants about their learning experiences in community based guided autobiography workshops. Also, the book includes the final Commissioned Research Report to the Canadian Council on Learning that provides details about the research study, the collected data set and initial findings of participants’ reports about their learning experiences.

The Learning Reports – The Data Files

The learning reports (data files) collected from participants are so robust that this initial funded study only skimmed the surface of what they might reveal. There are many perspectives on learning that might be appropriated to a research study of participants’ learning experiences in a guided autobiography workshop.

This research study is based on concepts of learning processes or outcomes and as expanding or consolidating learning experiences in guided autobiography activities. As well, there are numerous perspectives appropriate to further exploring participant’s selected learning topics and their social meanings revealed in their learning experiences.

The learning reports in this study reveal that meaning-making occurring in guided autobiography activities becomes more than knowledge exchange or construction and acquisition of information. Meaning-making expands into a social dynamic that Birren & Deutchman (1991) described as the developmental exchange – “the mutual sharing among members of who they are and where they came from, their personally important historical and emotional events” (p. 44). The developmental exchange emerging in these narrative activities extends the boundaries of making-meaning and connects of our “real-self” – “ideal-self” – “social-image self” (p. 10-13). Randall (1995) offers a diagram of the complex nature of these narrative experiences and their flow, which he describes as “the poetics of learning.”

Any data set that provides material of individual’s life experiences cannot easily be summarized completely or comprehensively by two educators. Certainly, parsing learning reports into single segments for analysis misses the developmental flow and trajectory of learning experiences. Besides, learning in the later phase of adulthood is more than lifelong and more complex than the uphill–downhill metaphor of aging in earlier perspectives. Lifelong learning involves not only “over time” but has elements of ‘width’ and ‘depth’ in changing and enriching dynamic social experiences and contexts.  All this was evident in this initial research study, which only skimmed the surface of learning processes and outcomes (Thornton & Collins, Jan 2010, CCL Commissioned Report). Thus, the collection of learning reports in Part 3 of the Research Study are prepared for further research on adult learning and meaning-making experienced by participants in guided autobiography workshops and activities of telling their life stories

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