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Informal learning activities of older trainers at work. Background and Research questions. Demographic development Population ageing Growing demand for qualified workers Participation in formal training decreases with increasing age Demand for lifelong learning Research questions

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background and research questions
Background and Research questions

Demographic development

    • Population ageing
    • Growing demand for qualified workers
    • Participation in formal training decreases with increasing age
    • Demand for lifelong learning

Research questions

  • What learning activities are carried out by older trainers?

(2) What are the differences in the answers concerning learning activities of older and younger trainers?

older trainers
  • Chronological age (Kooij et al., 2008)
  • Health, motivation, work experience
  • People in their second half of working life (OECD, 2006)
  • till 39, younger trainers
  • between 40 and 44 medium group
  • over 45, older trainers
theoretical background informal learning
Theoretical Background: Informal learning
  • Four components of informal learning (Mulder, Harteis &Gruber, 2009)
  • Intention, deliberative or reactive
  • Type, cognitive or physical
  • Setting, individual or social learning
  • Context of learning
  • Learning activities are carried out to solve a cognitive conflict (Piaget, 1965), cognitive processes or observable behavior.
definition of informal learning at work
Definition of informal learning (atwork)

Informal learningis a process, thatcanbedeliberate, reactiveorimplicit, thatleadstocompetencies (and not to formal qualifications). Ithappensindividuallyorsocially, outside organizedlearningsettings. Itisinfluencedby individual characteristicsandcharacteristicsofthecontext (jobandorganization).


Semi-structured interviews

  • Context:

Questions concerning their workplace

2. Learning activities:

“Please imagine that a client shows up after he joined your training/ workshop/ course. He criticizes the content and structure of the course”

“How would you act?”

“Why did you act that way?”

  • Individual factors:

Questions concerning career, future development, age

  • 22 trainer
  • Younger (N=10) and older (N=12) trainers
  • In-company (N=11) and freelanced (N=11) trainers
  • 12 of them female, 10 male

Data collection

- Transcription of the recorded interviews

- Length: between 19.01 and 93.37 minutes

- Qualitative content analysis

- Category system as basis


1.Reported answer: “…well one can say that you get more perspectives then and that one can compare the perspectives afterwards and what is important of course to come to a common opinion within the group”.

2. Paraphrase: “asking colleagues to get to a socially shared opinion”.

3. Cluster: “Asking colleagues and supervisors”.

learning activities of older trainers
Learning activitiesofoldertrainers


  • 23 different learning activities were reported
  • 7 different cognitive and 16 different physical learning activities
  • not mentioned: cognitive, reactive, social activity
  • hardly mentioned: cognitive, reactive, individual activities
  • Focus of answers directly on critical situation and possible solutions
differences in the answers of older and younger trainers
Differences in the answers of older and younger trainers

Older trainers

Talking to the criticizing person, directly initiate a solution

Younger trainers:

Discussing with others (colleagues or supervisors)

Quotes (younger trainer):

“Therefore I meet with my supervisor, in order to get feedback from her. She told me, that I would be able to manage the upcoming tasks. So she supported me that way”

“After that one would discuss the situation in the team, so one could see how colleagues think about it.”

reasons for reported activities

Older trainers

  • Former experiences with similar situations
  • Authority
  • Knowledge about their own abilities


“Now, I can assess a situation quite well. I know what to do to be successful.”

“Ähm, I have to be the authority at my workplace.”

Younger trainers

  • Need to communicate and share their decisions with colleagues and supervisors
  • Feel insecure
  • Rely on experience of authorities


“Usually it is a little bit of insecurity. This will be clarified by my supervisor.”

“Then I rely on the opinion of my supervisor to see what`s possible.”

implications and further research
  • Differences in reportedactivitiesand different reasonsforactivities: Support oflearningatworkshouldbe different
  • Importantfactorsforoldertrainers: experience, self-efficacy
  • Resultsofthisstudyasbasisfordevelopmentofquestionnaireandtogeneratehypotheses

Thank you for listening!



- cognitive (58) and physical activities (181)

  • reactive (77) and deliberative activities (162)
  • individual (152) and social (87) activities

Cognitive activities “

reflecting about possible solutions” (21), reflecting about critical situations or problems” (12) and “reflecting about information or prior knowledge” (7)

Physical activities

“direct discussion with the criticizing person” (40), “discussion with colleagues and supervisors” (40) and “research on the critical situation” (18).