Malcom Knowles described adult learning as “a process of self-directed inquiry”. He conceptualised the characteristics of adult learners in 5 ways:
A. Self-concept – as a person matures, their self-concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being. Therefore adults are self-governed and have their own beliefs and values.
B. Adult learner experience – as a person matures, they accumulate a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning. In saying this, adult learners want to be able to draw upon their past experiences to aid with their learning.
C. Readiness to learn – as a person matures, their readiness to learn becomes increasingly oriented to the developmental tasks of their social roles. This is linked to the need for adults to know why they would learn something and ensure their priorities align with the educational undertaking they embark on.
D. Orientation to learning – as a person matures, their time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application. Consequently the orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one problem centeredness. Adult learning focuses on realistic problems so the learners understand the reason for the learning. Adult learners are not particularly content-oriented.
E. Motivation to learn – as a person matures, the motivation to learn is internal which can help develop a new skill or acquire a particular type of knowledge.
Refer to the descriptions in the andragogical model above, then match them with the tips on how to encourage adult learning below - for example:
Point A matches with Tip 3.
- Discussion, discussion and more discussion. Make time and space for it.
- Find the Minecraft that will drive your learners to seek more. Remember why you’re passionate about your subject and encourage this passion in others.
- When you are communicating with your learners, think why as well as what.
- Keep your learning environment informal, allowing your learners to exercise choice and control in shaping their own learning environments.
- Ensure that the learning objectives are clearly stated and understood by all learners before they begin their learning.
Please post your thoughts below.