Lifelong education which is a precursor of lifelong learning (LLL) grew out of the notion that education is a continuous aspect of life. The concept of lifelong learning is widely used in different contexts. The meaning of LLL depends on the understanding of its ‘subject’ being the context of students’ approach
to their learning. The attitude toward self-perfection seems to be a personal trait of character. However, in the engineering degree programmes the concept of LLL has been brought to the fore more succinctly by the accreditation requirements. Great majority, if not all of the accreditation boards require engineering students to possess an ability to engage in LLL.
The purpose of the research is to determine the attitudes of academic staff towards lifelong learning in the education of engineering students at the undergraduate level. However, the paper also discusses the educational concept of LLL and also presents the results of a survey to assess the understanding of LLL by engineering lecturers. The analysis is done in the background of the general stance of engineering lecturers towards professional skills required by the accreditation agencies. It covers also the strategies employed to promote LLL and the assessment methods whether LLL skills have been acquired.
A structured, anonymous questionnaire was used as an instrument for gathering data from respondents. The respondents were engineering lecturers of different specializations and working at different universities. The questionnaire consisted of 16 items that covered such areas as personal details, views on professional skills in engineering education, definition, attitude and application of the lifelong learning in respondent’s teaching.
According to the survey, the most common understanding of lifelong learning was that it was the way for an employee to stay competitive in the labour market. Most recognized LLL as an important element of the professional preparation of engineers; however there were still quite a number who classified it as ‘not important’. Academic staff taking part in the survey was not sure about their knowledge and understanding of lifelong learning.
The paper opines that as technology advances in modern knowledge-based economies, industry and other employers will more and more require engineers who are multi-skilled, adaptable and who can operate flexible systems. Therefore professional engineers who are committed to lifelong learning will be in greater demand. In that context the role of lecturers in understanding and imbibing LLL competency cannot be overemphasised. However, in general lecturers are not sure about their knowledge of LLL and are to some extent reluctant to implement lifelong learning in their teaching.
lifelong learning, self-directed learning, graduate attributes