Adult learning choice making: adopting and adapting a visual method

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


While adult learning choice making (the process of choosing to learn or not) has been considered from diverse theoretical traditions, research is usually conducted through the mode of analysing written or numerical data. I show how semiotically-inspired, mixed-method research has evolved over nine years of a part-time doctoral project, in ways that can harness visual representations of the context, paradigm, method, data and findings of choice making. To strengthen the analytical potential of the research design, I trace significant shifts in the theoretical lens as well as the perspectives from which choice making is considered by researcher and researched. These shifts help address a gap in the understandings of individual choice making from the perspective of the choice maker and their changing understandings over time. Making use of a graphical tool, the Learning Choice Tracker, data and analytical themes were generated and checked through multiple interviews with 12 participants, over two years. Key findings show how the context of adults choosing to engage in learning is complicated and often not understood by the individual without extended time for reflection and reconsideration. Relatedly, policy positions and institutional offerings are often framed in ways that may be disconnected from how adults make their learning choices. Thirdly, the Tracker shows how complex data that arise from multiple interviews can be better understood in visual ways, both for researchers and participants. I conclude with a discussion about how the Tracker can be developed and adapted as a practitioner tool, or to enhance further research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventMonash Education Research Community Annual Conference 2021: Embracing Adaptability and Transformation in Research - Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 30 Sept 2021 → …


ConferenceMonash Education Research Community Annual Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleMERC 2021
Period30/09/21 → …


  • Adult learning
  • choice making
  • pragmatism
  • semiotics
  • methodology

Cite this