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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Changing from a Culture of Practice to a Culture of Research’: A Story About Transition Experienced By Mature Lifelong Learners

Paul T. Hanrahan.

How might a university, that is well received within the international community of scholars, countenance the construct of lifelong learning? How do mature age learners from non-traditional backgrounds learn to undertake higher degree studies? These are some of the questions this paper raises as a means of exploring the learning and constructs associated with moving from a culture of practice to one of research.

Brief case studies are used to illustrate some of the remarkable transitions these stoical mature age learners
experienced over many years of transition.

There are two major tensions involved in this scenario. The first is for the university where a broadened appreciation of learning contexts has yet to be fully appreciated. The second exists for the mature age learners and their capacity to transcend, and subsume a culture of practice into a higher education institution of learning.

Lifelong learning and capability are among the constructs perceived as a means of enabling mature aged learners and the university to merge the two cultures of practice and research.


Paul T. Hanrahan  (Australia)
Department of Education Policy and Management
The University of Melbourne

Currently writing up a PhD, the focus being workplace change and effects upon learning and researching in R&D organizations, I have had the opportunity and the pleasure of supervising and teaching mature age adult learners – nationally and internationally - for more than twenty years. We have learnt a great deal together.

  • Mature age students
  • Capability
  • Lifelong learning

(Virtual Presentation, English)