Learner Identity and Lifelong Learning: A Mixed-Method Study


  •   Monique Landberg

  •   Torsten Porsch


Learning is on the one side happing every day. On the other side, adult participation in (formal and non-formal) learning is low, especially in Germany and for certain subgroups (e.g., with low educational attainment). It is well known that with the acquisition of knowledge over a lifetime many positive findings are associated. Hence, we propose that measuring learner identity might be a helpful construct for predicting and influencing lifelong learning. However, measurement options for learner identity are sparse. Hence, the present paper tries to adapt and validate a scale to measure learner identity. For that, we first adapted the Dimensions of Identity Development Scale questionnaire (Luyckx et al., 2008). Second, internal construct validity and external construct validity were established. For the latter, as in other studies, self-esteem, depressive symptoms (Luyckx et al., 2008) and openness (Crocetti et al., 2008) were used. Curiosity and epistemological beliefs were assessed as well, because according to the division of cognitive labor, we must gain knowledge from different sources to deal with life’s complexity (Bromme, 2005). Third, Marcia’s identity status (1964) was identified using a clustering approach. The mean age of the 124 participants was 21.90 years (SD = 3.23). Most participants were female (80.6%), and the majority were studying for a teaching post at the bachelor’s level (68.5%). Finally, one student per identity status was interviewed (n = 4) using a topic guide based on Marcia’s (1964) identity status interview. In this way, an explanatory mixed-method design was applied (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Both, the quantitative and the qualitative approach seem fruitful to assess learner identity. Analysis indicated that learner identity is different from epistemological beliefs. Learner identity is highly relevant to how learning situations are approached and how strong the commitment to learning activities and goals is. 

Keywords: Epistemological Beliefs, Learner Identity, Lifelong Learning, Mixed-Method Research


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How to Cite
Landberg, M., & Porsch, T. (2022). Learner Identity and Lifelong Learning: A Mixed-Method Study. European Journal of Education and Pedagogy, 3(3), 59–68. https://doi.org/10.24018/ejedu.2022.3.3.305