Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, Supplement, 69-72
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2012.37B017
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Research Into the Improvement of College Students' Life-Long
Learning Ability
Xinxin Wang, Qingxi Hu
College of Humanities, Arts and Social Science, China University of Petroleum-Beijing, Beijing, China
Received 2012
The world has been always changing fast in such a wild pace that we will soon be left behind without
continuous learning and developing which means it is absolutely necessary to be life-long learner for us in
21st century. The construction of life-long education system and society with learning atmosphere is a vi-
tal goal for the future development and reform on education in 20 years in China. The aim of this study is,
while analyzing the necessity of the students' life-long learning (LLL) ability, to put forward some feasi-
ble and concrete measures which can improve the life-long learning ability of college students.
Keywords: Lifelong Learning; College Students Education; Education Reform
Life-long education, a "Copernican revolution" in the field of
education, is the modern education trend which influences the
development and reform of the world e ducati on extensively and
profoundly. It is an inevitable requirement for contemporary
science and technology, economics, culture and highly social
development. Once it has been put forward, "Lifelong educa-
tion" with a new educational concept and abundant education
connotation overturned people axiology on traditional educa-
tion. The school education in the 21st century has to adapt to
these changes and challenges mentioned above to meet the
professional change in the process of social reform and the
economic development. The university should pay attention to
the cultivation of the students' life-long learning ability which
teaches students how to study, think, innovate, survive promis-
ing, so that the learners can keep learning in their later life.
The construction of the lifelong education system is a ration-
al demand of the development of times. The dazzling changes
in science and technology today gave rise to a rapid increase in
the amount of information and caused some site-specific infor-
mation to lose their up-to-datedness in a fairly short time. In-
formation is a life style, a form of thought and life in an infor-
mation society. In such a period, the production and use of
valid information is important. And the individual who is able
to learn is one characteristic of the information society. Learn-
ing is becoming a kind of decisive factors that promotes the
development of society and economics, boosts the progress of
human civilization and the comprehensive development of
people. With the rapid development of knowledge revolution,
the total amount of knowledge is increasing sharply with geo-
metric and the updated speed of knowledge accelerated dra-
matically. One-time learning, traditional concept that goes all
the day, study, employment and life pattern have been behind,
and LLL is becoming the basic need for subsistence and devel-
According to some researches, school education received
accounts for only about 10% of a man’s necessary knowledge,
of which the remaining 90% will be received while working.
For this reason, one of the new paradigms accepted both in
higher educational institutions and -in general- in the entire
educational system today is ‘lifelong learning’. As a high-level
training institution, higher schools have the responsibility to
strengthen and develop the students’ LLL ability which is a
central part advancing the higher education quality. While the
lifelong education and LLL are becoming a social trend, the
improvement of college students' ability, especially LLL ability,
will help students to work and live better. LLL helps people to
achieve other goals, such as taking an active part in civic life,
leading a more sustainable lifestyle, and improving their health
and wellbeing.
Definition of LLL
Generally speaking LLL means that learning should take
place at all stages of life cycle (from the cradle to the grave)
and, in more recent versions that it should be life-wide; that is
embedded in all life contexts from school to workplace, the
home and the community. With the development of the idea
and practice of lifelong education, there are some definitions
for LLL stated in the following:
Lifelong learning is a process in which individuals retain
their development of knowledge, skills, and interest in
their lives and opportunities of learning(Richardson, 1978)
which deepens the theory of lifelong education from the
standpoint of the educates. The main aim of LLL is to
reinforce and improve the life quality of individuals by
enabling them to bring their own potential to the utmost
LLL is thought as involving all tactics that are put in place
to created opportunities for people to learn throughout life.
It should be a process of conscious continuous learning
that goes throughout one’s life and directed towards offer-
ing both the individual needs and that of the relevant
community, that will not only develop individuals to be-
come responsible to themselves and their communities, but
understand and involve actively at all levels of their socie-
ties (Abukari, A., 2004).
X. X. WANG, Q. X. HU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Learning in which a person engages throughout his or her
life. It includes but is not limited to learning that occurs in
schools and formal educational programs (Idahoe, 2009).
Therefore Lifelong learning is the process of learning
which occurs throughout all one’s life. In this case, LLL
refers to formal and informal learning.
Features of LLL
European Commission sums up the lifelong learning ability
as” the eight key abilities” in the communiqué of Moderniza-
tion of the education and training: for Europe's prosperity and
social harmony , saying that ”the eight key abilities are core
skills, knowledge and attitude that must be mastered by each
European while making a hit in the knowledge society and
knowledge economics.” These abilities are listed as follows:
Ability to communicate with native language;
Ability to communicate with foreign language;
Primary abil ity in mathematics, scien ce and technol ogy;
Information technology ability;
Ability to study;
Interpersonal and cross-cultural communication ability,
citizen accomplishment;
Work spirit;
Cultural expression.
So LLL ability, not only gives an eye to man's whole life, but
also covers all the aspects of the human development, is such a
ability that enable learners active, positive, creative, and com-
prehensive. To put it in other words, the individuals should be
equipped with the basic information and skills for the sake of
better understand and process information, and should be able
to render the learning process more productive for themselves.
Without these skills, either the possibility of learning decreases;
or one can learn less with more effort.
In this respect, some of the features of LLL can be summa-
rized as follows:
Subjectivity: LLL emphasizing conscious learning activi-
ties of individual and autonomy learning is that learners,
the center of lifelong learning, choose the time, place, and
style for learning according to their own needs and take
the learners' demand as the orientation.
Continuity: LLL includes a process from ‘cradle to grave’
without constraining it to specific time periods, organiza-
tions or institutions.
Multiple integration: LLL runs through not only the whole
of one's life longitudinally, but also all the aspects of
learning, connects the school study, family study, social
learning and other occasions of the study together, which
is also multiple integration of stereo.
Purpose: Lifelong learning emphasizes the individual role
in the process of life-long learning. In other words, con-
scious learning arranged by individual intentionally is
more valuable. A lifelong learner has a continuous aspira-
tion for learning and the responsibility for his/her own
Creativity: Lifelong learning requests learners to adjust
their own learning goals, study contents, learning strate-
gies, learning methods, to ensure the pertinence of learning
and improve the learning effects. Key notions related to
LLL are as follows: individuals’ ownership of the need for
and the content of learning, related to the way for thinking
rather than what to think about.
Schools and Lifelong Learning
The traditional education is that higher education is the cul-
mination of education, which can provide benefit to the people
of the knowledge that will be used in their entire life which
means traditional higher education lays stress on "knowledge
teaching", a kind of "professional education" or "discipline
education". Lifelong education widens the field of vision for
people from the traditional school education and expands the
extension of education greatly. The school education is not the
end, but the beginning of lifelong due to the saying “studying
from the cradle to the grave”, The report announced in "higher
education of the developing countries "by World Bank in 2000
points out that higher education is the fundamental basis educa-
tion in the modern world, which is no longer a luxury but a
Colleges and universities are the fatal part and core force to
construct the lifelong education system and create the learning
society as the "producers, wholesalers and retailers" of know-
ledge, which carries a big weight in producing, accumulating,
spreading and applying knowledge. However, just as Christo-
pher `K, Poole and Arthur` J. Cropley said, we tend to think
that carrying out the best solution of lifelong education will be
realized by designing the special plan for adult education and
providing time to achieve learning opportunities, while ignor-
ing the fact that the main body of students in institution of
higher education are still traditional full-time college students
entering into the institutions of higher learning directly from the
middle school. It is the main mission for the higher school to
prepare themselves for bigger tasks prior to life-long learning
which is not only a significance to people's modes of learning,
but also their learning contents. Facing to turbulent waves of
lifelong education and the learning society, colleges and uni-
versities must vary as the traditional teaching notion changes
referring the instruction of knowledge as their responsibilities,
and put forth efforts to foster student's LLL ability. Iman, the
UNESCO assistant officer, points out that the concept of learn-
ing to study means that the educated people will know where
they can quickly and accurately find what they really don’t
know. It is estimated that 80% of the time is used to impart
knowledge and the remaining 20% of the time is used to ac-
quire the learning methods and research techniques. This situa-
tion will definitely be changed in the future in education system
at all levels, especially in higher education stage. The rapid
spread of information will necessitate individuals who are able
to know how and where to obtain information, and who are
selective in their choice rather than all-knowing individuals, in
other words, there will be a need for individuals who are able to
learn learning (Numanoglu, 1999).
Model of instruction should give priority to learners. In a li-
felong learning oriented school, some of the basic factors are
putting the student and his/her needs into the centre, a
self-directed learning through learning how to learn, and life
cycle (Bryce &Withers, 2003). Higher schools should change
their main direction from education of imparting knowledge to
developing learners' learning ability which means learn to study,
learn to behave, learn to live and learn to develop. In order to
X. X. WANG, Q. X. HU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
achieve this, a skill-based curriculum and supportive educa-
tional programs should be prepared as well. So colleges and
universities should shift traditional teaching methods which
centers around the teachers, classrooms and teaching materials
to advocate participatory teaching. They should also inspire
students to think for themselves, pay special attention to devel-
op the students' innovation spirits, develop their ability to ac-
quire and apply knowledge and information, develop the ability
of independent thinking ability and the innovation ability in the
teaching activities, so that they can get the necessary know-
ledge and skills to be used while they participate in the change
economic development and the social life. In addition, colleges
and universities should not only carry out various kinds of
extracurricular activities that make the best of positive roles of
all kinds of professional clubs, folk groups and other informal
organization, but also improve the students' self management
ability, organization skills and explored consciousness on their
own initiative . In short, in the most general sense, schools
should be organized in such way as to provide students with
social skills, learning skills and life skills, and the skill of how
to seize opportunities.
Attach importance to apply to the new technology of science
and technology. Specifically, in order to develop learning skills,
the use of educational software and modern information and
communication technologies at schools, and the use of national
and international nets should be encouraged (Bryce, Frigo,
McKenzie, Withers, 2000). Modern information technology has
found an increasingly wide utilization in the field of education,
especially with the development of education network, which
have broken through the space and time limitation of school
education and provided unprecedented materials and technical
conditions so that everybody can study in everywhere ever and
again flexibly. On the one hand, colleges and universities must
carry out the information and technology education to improve
the students' information literacy. On the other hand, they
should develop network technique and distance education while
taking full advantage of modern information technology means
including computer technology, network technology and mul-
timedia technology.
The main term in the realization of LLL activity is informa-
tion literacy, as information society consists of individuals who
learn all their lives. Those who learn all their lives long are able
to employ the information easily that is needed for solving a
problem or making a decision. Information literacy which is a
skill of obtaining, using, and conveying information is the basis
of lifelong learning. In order to put the principals of LLL ability
into practice, we need to encourage individual and social de-
velopment, and also master a computer-based world (Knapper
and Cropley, 2000). To sum up, for a lifelong learning, social
environments should be created in which individuals are given
the opportunities to develop themselves both personally and
socially, and individuals should be rendered competent in
computer literacy as dictated by the needs of information so-
Make the most of abundant resources of the school library.
School libraries which possess many special points of superior-
ity such as abundant literature materials, flexible learning styles,
warm and thoughtful navigation service of information and
convenient places to study and so on, have proved to be impor-
tant places of LLL. The colleges and universities should adhere
to the principle of the supremacy for readers and cater for
learners in real earnest. First of all, the libraries should train the
student of their scientific reading methods. In the next place,
the libraries should provide some professional instructional
bibliographies timely and effectively for the students to help
them to solve the problems in the process of studying and life.
Finally, the school libraries should do more efforts in the culti-
vation of the readers’ accomplishments of information, such as
giving a lecture about retrieval information to students regularly,
designing and making a good library homepage of this school,
recommending excellent websites about education to the stu-
dents and so on.
LLL results from integration of formal, non-formal, and in-
formal learning to create ability for continuous lifelong devel-
opment of quality of life. In the past, education meant formal
educational institutions that served people within a certain time
period; on the contrary, in the information age the existence of
educational/teaching environment without regard to time and
place prevails. Formal learning includes but is not limited to
participation for, post high school education provided by col-
leges and universities; community, military or occupationally
sponsored programs; professional counseling and proprietary
schools. Informal learning includes, but is not limited to, seek-
ing advice from an expert, experienced peer or adult; using a
library or other resource centre and setting up a self-directed
learning project -leading toward valuing LLL (Pongratz, 1996).
At present, continuing education are found in many universi-
ties which has become the important component of the common
university in China while becoming to be the main force carry-
ing out continuing education. However, taking one with another,
common universities, are still not playing a full role due to
problems such as weak initiative, single mode of running a
school, narrow avenue of running a school, overall little effects
and so on, which means it is still a long time to meet the needs
of launching a learning society. Thus, common universities
should be charged with more responsibilities of education for
adults after graduating from universities. Colleges and universi-
ties should reform the personnel training mode, promote to set
up the educational mechanism of combining learning with re-
search and production, strengthen the communication between
education and non-academic education and expand social
learning opportunities. The ability to cater for the development
of the economics and the society has to be enhanced for univer-
sities enabling themselves to be important carriers of lifelong
learning. Ultimately colleges and universities should open up
new curriculums and teaching materials which reflect the new
knowledge and technology combine the teaching contents with
the reality of production and life together quickly.
In the 21st century, we all need to be lifelong learners. Our
world is changing around us in such a frantic pace that if we do
not continue to grow and develop; we will soon be left behind.
We need to keep our skills sharp and up to date so that we have
an edge in all we do (Eggelmeyer, S. 2010).In conclusion,
higher education is undertaking the important function to dif-
fuse civilization, train talents, innovate science and technology
and cater for the society which take on the lofty and divine
mission in the construction of life-long education system.
Higher education must emancipate the mind, change the idea to
cultivate high quality talents who possess solid foundation,
innovative thinking and practice ability.
X. X. WANG, Q. X. HU
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
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