The relevance of telecommunications and electrical engineering programmes to the needs of adult learners in Ghana

Owusu-Agyeman, Yaw (2016-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : The growth in the Telecommunications and energy sectors in Ghana requires a highly trained workforce to meet the increasing knowledge and skills demands of the industry. The training of the workforce calls for adequate arrangements by higher education institutions (HEIs) to satisfy both the needs of industry and those employed in these sectors. A significant number of these employees are adult learners enrolled for Telecommunications and Electrical Engineering programmes at HEIs. These programmes are not necessarily designed to address the specific needs of adult learners, thereby leading to dissatisfaction among adult learners. This study, investigating the relevance of Telecommunications and Electrical Engineering programmes to the needs of adult learners, was framed along an interpretive paradigm, relative ontology, transactional epistemology and constructivist theory of learning. Building on the work of Buchanan and Smith (1998), the study uses an integrated framework to interrogate the key considerations necessary for developing adult learning programmes for students pursuing Telecommunications and Electrical Engineering in three diverse universities in Ghana. The study adopted an embedded multiple case study design that was adapted from Gable’s model. Probability and non-probability methods of sampling were used to gather relevant information from respondents and discussants. The sample included 200 student respondents, while focus groups discussions were conducted with 11 groups of adult learners from the three purposively selected institutions. The views of heads of the Telecommunications and Electrical Engineering departments, industry representatives, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Accreditation Board and the Deputy Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress provided additional evidence for the empirical study. Statistical software, Statistica, was used in analysing the quantitative data, while the hermeneutic process of developing patterns, codes and themes were used to analyse the interviews conducted. The study revealed that in developing relevant curricula for adult learners in the field of Telecommunications and Electrical Engineering, the constructivist theory required amplification by other theories such as experiential and transformative learning. Secondly, the three cases investigated in this study did not provide separate curricula for adult learners who enrolled in the programmes with varied experience and skills expectations. The study also found that while adult learners were not involved in the planning of their programmes, relevant learning resources such as text books, e-books, course materials, laboratory guides, field work guides and industrial attachment manual for their programmes were either not provided or were not in good condition. The possible implications for the study are that different learning theories are required to design appropriate curricula for adult learners in the engineering field, HEIs and industry should collaborate to develop the knowledge and skills of adult learners and adult learners should be actively involved in the planning of their programmes together with their facilitators and programme developers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die groei in die telekommunikasie- en energiesektore in Ghana benodig `n hoogs opgeleide werksmag om aan die groeiende vraag na kennis en vaardighede in die industrie te beantwoord. Die opleiding van die werksmag vereis geskikte reëlings deur hoër onderwysinstellings (HOIs) om die behoeftes van sowel die industrie as dié wat in hierdie sektore werksaam is, te bevredig. ‘n Aansienlike aantal van hierdie werknemers is volwasse leerders wat vir telekommunikasie en elektriese/elektroniese ingenieursprogramme by HOIs ingeskryf is. Hierdie programme is nie noodwendig ontwerp om die spesifieke behoeftes van volwasse leerders aan te spreek nie, wat dus lei tot ontevredenheid onder volwasse leerders. Hierdie studie wat die relevansie van telekommunikasie en elektriese/elektroniese ingenieursprogramme met betrekking tot die behoeftes van volwasse leerders ondersoek, het ‘n interpretiewe paradigma, relativistiese ontologie, transaksionele epistemologie en konstruktiwistiese leerteorie as raamwerk. Gegrond op die werk van Buchanan en Smith (1998), gebruik die studie ‘n geïntegreerde raamwerk om die kernoorwegings wat nodig is vir die ontwikkeling van volwasse leerprogramme vir studente in telekommunikasie en elektriese/elektroniese ingenieurswes aan drie diverse universiteit in Ghana te ondersoek. Die studie is ontwerp as‘n gevallestudie, en maak gebruik van Gable se ingebedde meervoudige gevallestudie-ontwerp. Metodes van waarskynlikheids- en nie-waarskynlikheids steekproeftrekking is gebruik om relevante inligting van respondente en deelnemers te versamel. ‘n Steekproef van 200 studente het vraelyste voltooi, terwyl fokusgroepbesprekings gevoer is met 11 groepe volwasse leerders van die drie instellings. Die menings van departementshoofde van die telekommunikasie en elektriese/elektroniese ingenieurswese departmente, verteenwoordigers van die industrie, die Adjunk Uitvoerende Sekretaris van die Nasionale Akkrediteringsraad en die Adjunk Sekretaris-generaal van die Vakbondkongres het bykomende gegewens tot die empiriese studie bygedra. Statistiese sagteware, Statistica, is gebruik om die kwantitatiewe data te analiseer, terwyl die hermeneutiese proses vir die ontwikkeling van kodes, patrone, en temas gebruik is om die onderhoude wat gevoer is, te analiseer. Die studie toon aan dat wanneer toepaslike kurrikula vir volwasse leerders in die veld van telekommunikasie en elektriese/elektroniese ingenieurswese ontwikkel word, die konstruktivistiese teorie aangevul moet word met ander teorieë soos eksperiënsiële en transformatiewe leer. Tweedens is bevind dat die drie gevalle wat in hierdie studie ondersoek is, nie afsonderlike kurrikula vir volwasse leerders wat met ‘n verskeidenheid van ervaring and vaardigheidsverwagtingsin die programme ingeskryf het, voorsien het nie. Die studie het ook bevind dat volwasse leerders nie betrokke was by die beplanning van hulle programme nie, toepaslike hulpbronne vir leer soos laboratoria, internet konnektiwiteit en biblioteekbronne vir hulle programme of ontbreek het of in ‘n swak toestand was. Die moontlike implikasies vir die studie is dat verskillende leerteorieë nodig is om toepaslike kurrikula vir volwasse leerders in die ingenieurswese te ontwerp, HOIs en die industrie moet saamwerk om die kennis en vaardighede van volwasse leerders te ontwikkel, en volwasse leerders saam met hulle leerfasiliteerders en programontwikkelaars, aktief betrokke moet wees in die beplanning van hulle programme

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