Details of Thesis

Title No Pain, No Gain: an investigation of the concept of persistence in learning in a Taiwanese college program
Author Pan, Li-Chi
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2006
Abstract This study aims to explore, describe and thus understand the phenomenon of two-year college program students’ persistence within the context of Taiwanese culture and tradition; and to develop and provide a framework or patterns for understanding working adult students’ persistence for educators. By using a hermeneutic phenomenology approach, the persistence in learning experiences of specific participants was explored based on semi-structured interviews in two exploratory studies linked by a comprehensive literature review. The researcher’s own experience of persistence was also included as part of the study. The data were analysed by using thematic analysis and narrative construction. Findings reveal that participants persist with the support of enabling factors and application of coping strategies despite barriers. The intertwined relationship between the value placed on qualifications, identity recognition and views of persistence contribute to the concept of persistence. This concept develops through schemas emerging from the data: historical effect, cultural reproduction and identity construction. Under the influence of Taiwanese tradition and culture, this concept of persistence immerses into the participants’ knowledge ground and standpoints to understand the world they live in. The concept is defined as ‘no pain, no gain’ and includes dimensions of insisting on the right to study, fulfilment of dreams, being a role model of good study habits, personal growth and enrichment. Participants construct both social identity as graduates and personal identity as progressive, competent and respected individuals. The findings of this study benefit both theory and practice. Theoretical implications and recommendations include providing insights into the concept of persistence through development of schema that underpin factors contributing to working adult students’ persistence in Taiwan. Practical implications and recommendations include insights drawn from the perspective of Taiwanese culture and tradition to understand the experience of two-year college program working adult students to persist in a high level learning environment, which informs educators to see themselves as important sources of support and information, and thus able to assist their students to cope with the barriers to their learning, or to extend persistence outside their formal educational settings and maintain their learning.
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