A Portrait of the Adult Educator in Singapore

Conducted from 2011 - 2012


Professor Andrew Brown, Director of Research Division
Institute for Adult Learning

Rebecca Ye, Research Officer 
Institute for Adult Learning

Annie Karmel, Research Officer
Institute for Adult Learning


What is the question?

This research endeavors to develop an understanding of who WSQ Adult Educators (AEs) in Singapore are. While the professionalization of this group is a key interest of the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), little is known about the different types of people who actually make up this group, or how they negotiate their careers as adult educators. Therefore, we intend to paint a portrait of the adult educator in Singapore by addressing the following research questions:

  1. What is the profile of adult educators training in the WSQ system?
  2. How are adult educators training in the WSQ system represented officially and publicly, 
    and how do these representations align with AEs’ own perceptions of self?
  3. What are the career trajectories (including motivations, aspirations and how their working lives 
    are organised) of the different profiles of adult educators training in the WSQ system?
  4. Are there identifiable patterns in the profiles of WSQ adult educators, and if there are, what are they?


Why is it important?

Unveiling who adult educators are, not just demographically, but as people with complex backgrounds, motivations, aspirations, work lives is imperative for two reasons.

Firstly it will help inform trainer workforce planning by providing necessary information to evaluate whether current courses and programmes, for the development of adult educators, are suitable and relevant. Secondly, such an understanding will address the effectiveness of training AEs by finding out whether they are getting the support and skills needed to traverse the adult education training field. For these reasons a greater understanding of adult educators has also become of interest to the wider international community as various nations seek to improve the professional development of adult educators (Brown, 2003; Buiskool, Broek, Lakerveld, Zarifis, & Osborne, 2010; Milana, 2010).

Our research will, therefore, be of interest to the international community by adding a valuable perspective from the Asian region to this body of knowledge. As the Singapore WSQ system matures, understanding our WSQ AEs is necessary to strengthen training for, and by, adult educators and thus heighten the quality of Singapore’s CET provision to compete on an international level.


How will the research be done?

This study intends to develop data on the profile of WSQ adult educators in Singapore by analysing data from three different sources:

  1. Existing demographic data from IAL and SkillsConnect
    This will help build the baseline profile of adult educators and unveil general (if any) patterns of AEs backgrounds.

  2. Public and official discourse(s) regarding AEs
    Discourse (language used in speech and writing) can, in a powerful way, influence the identities of adult educators by shaping the adult education field, how people see those who work in it and how AEs perceive themselves.

  3. Biographical narratives of adult educators
    Through in-depth interviews, biographical narratives of a sample of WSQ adult educators will give important insights into their learning experiences and provide a basis for analysing the specific arenas in which individuals develop viewpoints, which guide their intentions and actions and shape their identities.

Analysis of the collected data will be pulled together to address the research questions stated above.

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