NIACE Adult Participation in Learning Surveys
For over a decade, NIACE has undertaken a series of surveys to measure adult participation in learning. These surveys have not only provided information on the proportion of adults participating in learning and a detailed breakdown of who participates and who does not, but the comparison of results within the series, enables the examination of how patterns of participation change over time.
Every year the survey asks respondents about their participation in learning and whether they intend to take up learning in the future.
Every year the survey also asks additional questions about the learning that has taken place.
In some years, additional questions are asked about a particular subject of interest.
The NIACE surveys are based on a weighted population sample of 5,000 adults aged 17 and over in the UK and are included in regular omnibus market research surveys. The survey is conducted annually, with headline findings published to coinside with Adult Learners' Week
For more information, press releases and research reports relating to the surveys, follow the links below:
Copies of the questionnaires, details of the methodology and sampling framework, and SPSS datafiles are available on request. For more information on the NIACE adult participation in learning survey, please contact Fiona Aldridge at firstname.lastname@example.org
The question used within the survey series since 1996 has been drafted as broadly as possible to include all types of learning and in any mode. It is a question asked of individuals themselves, not in terms of levels or providers, and it asks the respondents to tell the interviewer what they are learning about without any further prompting. The findings are therefore useful in capturing the proportion of the population who see themselves as learners.
Respondents are asked:
"Learning can mean practising, studying or reading about something. It can also mean being taught, instructed or coached. This is so you can develop skills, knowledge, abilities or understanding of something. Learning can also be called education or training. You can do it regularly (each day or month) or you can do it for a short period of time. It can be full time or part time, done at home, at work, or in another place like a college. Learning does not have to lead to a qualification. We are interested in any learning you have done, whether or not it was finished.
Turning to learning in general: which one of these statements most applies to you?
a) I am currently doing some learning activity
b) I have done some learning activity in the last three years
c) I have studied or learned but it was over three years ago
d) I have not studied or learned since I left full-time education"
Respondents are also asked:
How likely are you to take up learning in the next three years?
a) Very likely
b) Fairly likely
c) Fairly unlikely
d) Very unlikely
e) Don't know
In 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008 additional questions were asked about the learning that had taken place. These included questions about:
- what was being learned
- sources of information about learning
- motivation for learning
- location of learning, including ease of access
- length and during of learning
- qualifications being worked towards
- benefits of learning
- paying for learning
- barriers to learning
- attitudes to learning
- access to ICT
- use of the internet.
To date, the survey has included questions on a range of subjects including:
Learning at Work (2006)
Buy the research report "Skilling me softly: NIACE briefing on learning at work" here
Participation in adult learning by ethnic minority adults (2006)
Buy the research report "In the spotlight: NIACE briefing on participation in learning by adults from minority ethnic groups" here
Who Should Pay? (2006)
Buy the research report "In a quandary: Who should pay for learning?" here
Participation in adult learning by ethnic minority adults (2003)
Buy the research report "Light and Shade: a NIACE briefing on participation in adult learning by minority ethnic adults" here
Language Trends 2005
Read the research report "Language Trends 2005 - Adult Learners" here
Leisure and lifestyle (1990, 1996 and 2002)
Participation and competence in languages (1999)
Buy the research report "Divided by Language" here
Participation in sports and fitness activities and the link with learning (2001)
Buy the researc report - "Sport a Leap into Learning?" here
Learning at work (2004)