Exploring informal learning in Spain: An analysis based on the adult education survey

Carla Quesada-Pallarés*, Miren Fernández-de-Álava

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review


    At the heart of adult education there is informal learning; the one acquired through professional practice and propelled by challenges that appear in daily activities (Fernández-de-Álava, 2014; Marsick & Watkins, 1990; Marsick, Fernández-de-Álava, & Watkins, 2015). In this chapter we develop a theoretical framework for understanding informal learning and we provide an overview of Spanish adult population (aged 18 to 64 years old) involvement learning activities. We considered a secondary data source collected through the Adult Education Survey (AES), administered in 2011. We managed a randomly selected sample of 17,829 respondents using the computerassisted personal interview (CAPI). Data were analysed using SPSS v17 Inc. performing various statistics: descriptive and inferential tests performed according to items analysed -29 items regarding participation in non-formal learning activities, and 7 items regarding informal learning-. Results show that there is more participation in informal learning activities, even though there are no significant differences between the population who participates in non-formal learning activities and the population who participates in informal learning activities. Spanish adults are involved in non-formal learning activities driven by workplace skills acquisition. For Spanish adults this means frequently improving its professional perspectives or work performance, and learning new knowledge or specific skills. Personal interests motivate the involvement in informal learning activities. Specifically, Spanish adults are more interested in arts and liberal arts, followed by sciences, mathematics, and information technology. They resort to informal learning mechanisms such as computer, family relationships, friends, and conversation with colleagues. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

    Original languageAmerican English
    Title of host publicationInformal Learning
    Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives, Challenges and Opportunities
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781536122541
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


    • Adult education survey
    • Informal learning
    • Information technology
    • Workplace learning


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