Teaching beliefs of non-formal consumer educators: a perspective of teaching in home improvement retail stores in the United States


Edward W. Taylor, Associate Professor in Adult Education, Penn State University-Harrisburg, School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, W351 Olmsted Building, 777 W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057-4898, USA. E-mail: ewt1@psu.edu


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the teaching beliefs of instructors who provide consumer education clinics (e.g. tile laying, faux painting, faucet replacement) in home improvement retail stores. Research in adult and higher education and the K-12 field demonstrate that beliefs about teaching and learning and their relationship to practice are quite significant. Only recently have teaching beliefs begun to receive attention in the field of consumer education. Using participatory observations and in-depth interviews a complex picture was revealed about non-formal consumer education representative of a customer-centred approach, an emphasis on transmission model of education, a fostering of fun and informal communication, minimal learner expectations and an epistemology rooted in personal experience. The implications are important for training future adult educators who practise in non-formal consumer education settings.