Authentic information regarding the financial and social costs of adult learners in this province was needed for this research project. There was no current data collected on this topic or at least none that was accessible to researchers. The information had to be collected from adults currently enrolled in a formal learning program on PEI.
I created a survey to gather information about the costs when an adult on PEI returns to formal education. The survey was designed around the three research questions — the financial costs associated with coming back to school, the social costs they are experiencing, and if and how these costs affect their educational goals. Each of the two cost-related sections was further broken into two components – questions relating to the actual types and amounts of costs incurred and a second section regarding the types and amounts of supports each individual received. The last section, how their goals were affected by the combination of costs and supports experienced, contained only three questions with considerable room for participants’ comments.
As an instructor in the Adult and Community Education (ACE) program at Holland College, I approached the Program Coordinator (my supervisor) and the Executive Director of the ACE division for permission to speak with students presently enrolled. Once receiving permission to invite learners to participate in the research project, I considered the cross-section and overall number of learners that I hoped would participate. There are smaller, rural ACE programs established in Tignish, Palmer Road, O’Leary, Elmsdale, Morell, Montague and Souris and two larger, more urban centres in Summerside and Charlottetown. I decided to survey individuals at a variety of locations across Prince Edward Island.
With permission from the Faculty of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island and Adult and Community Education at Holland College, I personally administered the survey to learners enrolled in daytime programs at five locations across the province. In December, 2005 and January, 2006, I traveled to Adult Education classrooms in Elmsdale and Palmer Road (western PEI), Summerside (central PEI) and Charlottetown and Montague (eastern PEI). My goal was to receive a broad spectrum of responses that was reflective of both the Island’s population and the types of individuals enrolled in upgrading programs at the institution.