Podcast: Participation, Motivation and Adult Learning by Dr Ellen Boeren

This is a podcast of Dr Ellen Boeren’s presentation ‘Participation, Motivation and Adult Learning’.  Dr Ellen Boeren is Chancellor’s Fellow (tenure track) at Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom). She got her PhD in Educational Sciences in May 2011 from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. On the 10th of July 2014, she gave a talk in a Ragged University event which was called “Participation, motivation and adult learning: similarities and differences across Europe”.  You can listen to the podcast here.

Prof Ellen Boeren
Prof Ellen Boeren


She is interested in the field of higher/adult/lifelong education and conducts European comparative research studies.  She holds a special interest in survey methodology.  Ellen teaches ‘Research Methods’ for MSc students at Moray House in Edinburgh. She was appointed as  the new Chair of SCUTREA (Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults).


SCUTREA started in 1971 as a network of adult educators involved in researching and teaching adults got together to share their findings in a conference. Members were drawn from university adult education departments across the United Kingdom. Today the membership is broader and the annual international conferences are diverse and lively. Regular contact is maintained with colleagues from Australia, Canada and the US.


Adult learning participation is an interesting topic as it merges insights from various disciplines such as sociology, psychology, economics and political sciences. The study of participation tended to be conducted from a rather psychological perspective, while recently more attention has been paid to the sociological side, and more specifically the social inequalities and class structures that remain visible within among adult learning participants.


Currently, the field moves towards a stronger integrated subject. Although the European Union wants to achieve a participation rate of 15 percent among those aged 25-64 by the end of 2020, it is clear that many European countries are likely to fail this target and that wide inequalities between countries exist.  The presentation will draw on empirical findings gathered during the LLL2010 project, which took place from 2005-2011.


Thirteen European countries/regions took part in the study and final results are published in two distinct books: Lifelong Learning in Europe, subtitle book 1: Equity and efficiency in the balance, subtitle book 2:national patterns and challenges.  You can listen to her talk below, and see her slides:




You can find her website here:



You can read her Doctoral thesis here:

Boeren, E. (2011). Participation in adult education: a bounded agency approach. Doctoral thesis in Educational Sciences. Leuven: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. [DOWNLOAD]

You can access some of her papers here:

  • Boeren, E., Nicaise, I. & Baert, H. (2012). Adult learners’ satisfaction and its relation with individual and educational institutional characteristics. Pedagogies: an International Journal, 7(2),132-149. [FULL TEXT]
  • Boeren, E., Holford, J., Nicaise, I. & Baert, H. (2012). Why do adults learn? Developing a motivational typology across twelve European countries. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 10(2), 247-269.    [FULL TEXT]
  • Boeren, E. (2011). Profiles and motives of adults in continuing higher education. European Journal of Higher Education, 1(2-3), 179-191. [FULL TEXT]
  • Boeren, E. (2011). Gender differences in formal, non formal and informal learning. Studies in Continuing Education, 33(3), 333-345. [FULL TEXT]
  • Boeren, E., Nicaise, I. & Baert, H. (2010). Theoretical models of participation in adult education: the need for an integrated model. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 29 (1), 45- 61.   [FULL TEXT]