Despite a massive expansion of education in Portugal, since the 1970's, educational attainment of the adult population in the country remains low. The numbers of working-age people in some form of continuing education are among the lowest, according to the OECD and EU-27 statistics. Technological Schools (TS), initially created in the 1990's, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy in partnership with industry and industrial associations, aimed to prepare qualified staff for industries and services in the country, particularly in the engineering sector, through the provision of post secondary non-university programmes of studies, the CET (Technological Specialization Courses). Successful CET students are awarded a DET (Diploma of Technological Specialization), which corresponds to Vocational Qualification level IV of the EU, according to the latest alteration (2005) of the Education Systems Act (introduced in 1986). In this, CET's are also clearly defined as one of the routes for access to Higher Education (HE), in Portugal. The PRILHE (Promoting Reflective and Independent Learning in Higher Education) multinational project, funded by the European Socrates Grundtvig Programme, aimed to identify the learning processes which enable adult students in higher education to become autonomous reflective learners and search best practices to support these learning processes. During this research, both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to determine how students organise their studies and develop their learning skills. The Portuguese partner in the project' consortium used a two case studies approach, one with students of Higher Education Institutions and other with students of TS. This paper only applies to students of TS, as these have a predominant bias towards engineering. Results show that student motivation and professional teaching support contribute equally to the development of an autonomous and reflective approach to learning in adult students; this is essential for success in a knowledge economy, where lifelong learning is the key to continuous employment.
- Adult students
- European project PRILHE (Promoting Reflective Independent Learning in Higher Education)
- Learning process
- Lifelong learning
- Technological Schools