Saturday, 19 August, 2017

Research Projects

From time to time AONTAS undertakes research on different aspects of adult and community education. Hard copies are available by calling the AONTAS office on 01 4068220 or

Sowing the seeds of social change

The research described in this report is a companion piece of research to one conducted by AONTAS from 2009-2010 (see below "Community Education: More than Just a course") about the outcomes and impact of Department of Education and Skills (DES) funded community education. It answers a call in that research to isolate and investigate the outcomes of community education not wholly funded through DES. This research explores the learner outcomes and impact of a group of community education centres operating from a distinct model of community education, named in this report as the social action model of community education. The features of this model are: attending to social recognition of learners and addressing barriers to learning; reaching disadvantaged learners; fostering critical reflection; ensuring experiential learning, and preparation for social action and community development. All participating centres are members of the AONTAS Community Education Network (CEN) and the hope is to use this research in the CEN's work to contribute to the visibility and value of community education. A wide variety of benefits to learning were investigated including civic and social engagement, health and progression outcomes.

Link to Publications.

Community Education: More than just a course

Publication cover - Community Education-more than just a courseCover image for Community Education-more than just a courseAim of the research: To determine the individual, collective and societal outcomes of Department of Education and Science (DES) funded community education and its potential to contribute to a fairer, just and more prosperous Republic of Ireland.

To date, there has been no national research in Ireland scoping the outcomes of community education for learners, communities and the State. Community education is an important first step back into second chance learning for many adults and a national piece of research exploring its outcomes has much to offer key stakeholders in adult and community education in Ireland, telling us about: what approaches work; how they work; what progression routes are followed, and the quality of life benefits that it can have.

In turn, a validated set of research results could do much to demonstrate the monetary value of community education, contributing to debate about appropriate investment in the sector.

The report was launched during the Adult Learners Festival in February 2011.

Link to Publications.

The Costs and Benefits of Undertaking Adult Education Courses from the Perspective of the Individual- I'm an Adult Learner, Invest in Me!Cost benefits cover


The aim of this study is to examine the costs and benefits of undertaking adult education courses from the perspective of the individual, using three different case studies. This will give a snapshot of the benefits and the types of costs incurred by three adult learners.The three individuals were contacted by Aontas and were asked if they would be willing to participate in the research. They were then asked about the various costs they incurred as a result of returning to education and the resulting benefits.The three individuals here experienced a net benefit as opposed to a net cost. However, these figures may underestimate the value of lifelong learning, as there are many positive externalities to society of lifelong education.

Link to Publications.

Linking Adult, Community and Development Education through Active Citizenship

AONTAS has just completed a research project funded by the Development Education Section of Irish Aid to examine the extent to Publication cover - Integrating Development Education into Adult EdCover image for Integrating Development Education into Adult Edwhich development education is understood in the adult and community education sector and to explore how adult educators might be supported in integrating development education into its work and processes, using active citizenship as the main focus. A questionnaire was circulated to service providers working within VECs and the community education sector and AONTAS is very pleased with the response rate so far. Focus groups also took place over the autumn.

The research is finished and available here.

Link to Publications

Best Practice Guidelines for Increasing Men's Participation in BTEI

AONTAS was commissioned by the Further Education Section (FES) of the Department of Education and Science in 2007 to develop best practice guidelines for Back to Education Initiative ( BTEI) service providers (within both the formal and community strands) for the increased participation of men in course provision. The guidelines will promote the inclusion of men, who traditionally are seen as hard-to-reach in relation to engagement with second chance education programmes. The development of guidelines has been informed by desk based research, interviews with the Adult Education Guidance Service and focus groups with formal and community strand providers of BTEI. The research will be available on the website later in the year. It is one of a suite of four research projects commissioned by FES to support the development of BTEI.

Link to Publications.

'Don't Stop Me Now!': The Lifelong Learning Needs of Older People in Ireland Report

This summer AONTAS has completed a piece of research, joint funded by Age and Opportunity, into the lifelong learning needs of Publication cover - Don't Stop Me Now!Cover image for Don't Stop Me Now!older people in Ireland. The resulting report, entitled "Don't Stop Me Now!" will be available on the AONTAS website in the autumn. The research, which involved consultation with service providers nationwide and with older people engaged in lifelong learning, set out to map service provision in Ireland and to offer older learners an opportunity to voice their needs and interests in relation to learning opportunities in later life.The report makes a number of recommendations for increasing the participation of older people in adult education activities and for supporting service providers. The report also includes a number of case studies showcasing examples of best practice in adult education for older people. Interest in the research among older learners has been very high. As a direct result of the research an older learner's network has been established, for more information click here.

Link to Publications.