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Abstract

Using a qualitative case study method, this research focuses on a group of adult „returning‟ students completing a childcare course. The study does not focus on the academic merits of the students, but rather on the experience returning to education has on the lives of the students. Methods used included the hosting of three focus groups, a questionnaire and observations. Using a holistic analysis approach a number of key issues and themes emerged. These themes include motivation to return to education; family; identity; education as a facilitator of positive risk taking behaviour; education and perspective transformation; impact of teaching on learning, and impact on peer relationships. This study concludes that there is significant impact on the families of the students with routines and issues around children and childcare prevalent. The study also noted the impact on the identities of the students as well as the impact on the peer relationships as a result of engaging in adult learning. In addition the study noted the relationship between teaching methods and student learning, with students feeling more involved in the teaching/learning process compared to previous experience. Significant also was the level of critical refection and critical self-reflection the students engaged in as part of their learning experience. This study concludes with some recommendations that include greater participation with the student group in the organization of classes and curricula and more formal and informal dialogue between students and tutors.

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