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Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning
1999-2004 PI: J. Bynner; Co-PIs: Andy Green and T. Sculler Research Officers: Feinstein, L., Vorhaus, J., Gutman, L., Lupton, R., Duckworth, K., Schuller, T., , Sabates, R., Sorhaindo , A., Stevens , P., Heath, N., Hobbs, G., Manfield , T., Salter, E., Akerman, R., Hammond, C., Anderson, T. & Brown, J. 1999-2004 PI: J. Bynner; co-PI Andy Green and T. Sculler The Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning (WBL) was created in 1999 by the Department for Education and Skills to investigate the benefits gained from learning across the life course. WBL's research explored the multi-level, social benefits of learning in terms of the well-being and quality of life of individuals, their families and communities across local, national and international areas. WBL continued at the Institute of Education until it was wound up at the end of 2010. The research examined the effects of learning on outcomes other than the immediately economic outcomes such as wages that have dominated policy thinking. WBL explored the effects of learning in terms of individual well-being, family dynamics and community cohesion. The unit also focused more effectively on the links between these different types of effect and undertook more synthetic work, considering the policy implications of the quantitative and qualitative work undertaken in the early years of the unit. The research undertaken by the centre was multi-disciplinary, employing the full range of social science research methods, often analysing longitudinal data and combining quantitative and qualitative approaches. These were used iteratively, each supporting and testing the other. The use of mixed methodological approaches was integral to WBL's commitment to fully exploring the pathways and processes by which learning influences the individual, the family and wider communities. WBL’s research aimed to inform policy, to deepen understanding of the complex ways in which learning provides benefits, and to provide robust evidence about the scale of these effects and the returns they represent. WBL had an active communications strategy. As well as using the traditional methods of academic seminars, conferences and papers, the centre maintained an Advisory Forum made up of fellow researchers, policy makers and practitioners to ensure that the research was communicated to stakeholder groups, and informed by their needs and concerns. In this way, WBL sought to ensure that ongoing research was both valuable and valued.
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