Mature Learners’ Participation in Higher Education and Flexible Learning Pathways: Lessons Learned from an Exploratory Experimental Research

  • Rogério Duarte
  • Ana Luísa de Oliveira Pires
  • Ângela Lacerda Nobre


Higher education institutions play an important role in promoting equity and access conditions to mature learners. Such role includes the ethical commitment to facilitate learning processes, removing barriers to mature learners’ entry and persistence in higher education. This paper describes the implementation of flexible learning pathways in a technology and industrial management graduate course designed for mature learners. Findings confirm that mature learners welcome flexible learning pathways and choose the pathways that better suit their needs. Despite initial academic background differences, success rates are adequate and similar for different learning pathways, showing that mature learners are capable of bridging the gaps in their academic development. Findings also show that doubts related to the impact of some learning pathways on students’ academic integration are unfounded. Considering the positive results, it is concluded that flexible learning pathways, together with the widening of entry routes to higher education, promote equity and access conditions to mature learners.


Higher education Mature learners Equity Flexible learning Learning pathways 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rogério Duarte
    • 1
  • Ana Luísa de Oliveira Pires
    • 1
  • Ângela Lacerda Nobre
    • 1
  1. 1.Escola Superior de Tecnologia de SetúbalInstituto Politécnico de SetúbalSetúbalPortugal

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