Situational barriers

Situational barriers refer to barriers that are unique to the person and their own situation, such as family or time commitments (Cross, 1981) or lack of financial support (Hardin, 2008). There is often an overlap in relation to situational and dispositional barriers since both categories refer to the individual. Cross (1981) suggests that the delineation between the two rests with the internal versus external divide. Situational, therefore, refers to the personal yet external factors experienced by the person that pose an obstacle to their participation in education. In most countries, lack of time, mostly as a result of family responsibilities, is the greatest overall barrier for those who wish to participate in education

(Rubenson and Desjardins, 2009). It is unsurprising that women experience more situational barriers than men (Johnstone and Rivera, 1965; Flynn et al., 2011) due to family responsibilities and time constraints. Situational barriers can also be linked to social class, with those from the middle class more likely to participate in adult learning. Those from the working class who participate will usually possess middle-class characteristics such as higher levels of initial schooling and active participation in community7 life (McGivney, 1993). Adults with low socioeconomic status experience more situational barriers (Johnstone and Rivera, 1965; Flynn et al., 2011). Those from the working class can view education as something to fill the space until real life — their working life — starts (Paldanius, 2007). While such beliefs are also attitudinal and therefore could be classified as dispositional barriers, they also relate to a person s place in life — such as working class or in prison — and are therefore also situational. Belonging to a culture that encourages education is extremely important to educational outcomes (Flynn et al., 2011). A common barrier to all forms of education including literacy, late secondary, third level and job-related training is not belonging to a culture where these forms of education are considered important. When people from such backgrounds consider pursuing adult education, they also consider the risk of isolating themselves from their families, peers and other support systems (Flynn et al., 2011). The reverse is also true, with those from the middle class more likely to participate in adult learning (McGivney, 1993). Flynn et al. (2011) found that marginalised learners experience higher situational and dispositional barriers than others and that this was caused by previous experiences and cultures relating to their background. The culture within the family of origin will have been crucial to a person’s ongoing relationship with education (Flynn et al., 2011). The mindset of the previous generation of the working class was that school was unnecessary' for future employment - contributing financially was important, not formal education (Flynn et al., 2011). The emotional toll of poverty also creates barriers, fostering shame in feeling different or less than despite their best efforts to change their life circumstances. Poverty, social class, racial differences and a perceived lack of ability often resulted in feelings of isolation, inferiority', hostility' and poor personal relationships (Flynn et al., 2011). Where students felt they were viewed as not intelligent enough by teachers or seen as a troublemaker if they acted out, this led to frustration, lack of confidence and a reluctance to be in school and resulted in early' school leaving and a reluctance to return to education later in life (Flynn et al., 2011).

In the prison context, situational factors may include an internalised narrative that education is not worth the trouble or will not be of any benefit after release (Manger et al., 2018). An important factor in relation to nonparticipation in vocational training is a preference for other activities in limited out-of-cell time (Brosens et al., 2015). Repeat offenders and those with longer sentences tend to access vocational education, with those who do not participate indicating that their sentence is too short or they' do not need the training

(Brosens et al., 2015). Those serving short sentences (O’Keeffe et al., 2007; Alos et al., 2015) or in the early stages of imprisonment (Brosens et al., 2015) are most likely to perceive situational barriers to vocational training, rather than institutional or dispositional. Such barriers can be a result of being new to the prison environment, being on remand, uncertainty around their release date or uncertainty as to the prison where they will serve their sentence (Callan and Gardner, 2005; Brosens et al., 2015). Finally, those serving their first sentence are more likely to want to do other things such as going to work or spending time with visitors (Brosens et al., 2015). These are not necessarily bad choices since going to work will also have a positive impact on the prisoner, as will maintaining family bonds through visits.

Situational considerations can also act as turning points with education for marginalised learners. Events such as having children and wanting to be a good role model lead to a reassessment of the value of education and its role in changing future outcomes (Flynn et al., 2011). Flynn et al. (2011) also found that there were turning points and hope in the narratives of those they interviewed. They found that at various life stages, events occurred that changed expectations of education.

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