Expanding our understanding of the learning cultures in community based further education

Jim Gallacher, Beth Crossan, J. Terry Mayes, Paula Cleary, Lorna Smith, David Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents arguments for distinctive features of the learning cultures present within community-based further education. It draws on an analysis of qualitative data generated through interviews with staff and learners in two community learning centres (CLCs) attached to two of Scotland's Further Education (FE) colleges. The following features are identified: the permeable boundaries of CLCs; the complex roles of teaching staff and the 'horizontality' of the relationships with learners; the centrality of the role played by non-teaching staff; the tensions created by balancing formality and informality associated with the impact of the wider field of FE; and the extent to which CLCs can be come a comfort zone for learners, and make transition difficult. In the analysis of these empirical observations the concept of 'learning relationships' has been influential. We have also drawn on Bourdieu's concepts of 'habitus', and 'field', in understanding the dispositions and practices of the staff and learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-517
Number of pages17
JournalEducational Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007


  • community based further education
  • learning cultures


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