Adult Learning

Adult Learning

Introduction

Adult learning refers to the process which adults engage in education activities in effort to acquire new knowledge forms. It goes beyond traditional schooling. Most adults believe that it is learning may be a means of meeting their needs.

 Adult Learning

The first article is written by Julie Conlan, Sarah Grabowski, and Katie Smith for the Department of Education Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia. It is a general review of adult learning.  According to the article, conflicting perspectives on the relationship between adult learning and childhood education exist. However, styles of learning for both parties are similar. The difference comes in on how the styles are used depending on the environment for learning.

Andragogy refers to the discipline that is involved in giving adults a chance to learn.  Five factors are involved in the process of adult learning.  The factors describe the adult as someone who is capable of directing their learning since they have independent self-concept (Conlan, 2003).  Also, the adult has acquired a set of skills through life experiences that can help them in learning. The learner has needs which are relative to altering social roles. The learner is believed to be problem-centered and would, therefore, be very interested in a means that lead to the immediate application of knowledge acquired. Lastly, internal factors are key motivators for learning.

First, adults go through computer training sessions as part of the introduction to their classes. They are given an overview of what their learning entails and the importance of the operations they will undertake. They receive instructions which are task-oriented as well as assignments related to the real world to test the skills they possess.  The instructor then looks into the background of the learners on a wide range. Individual levels and goals are then given attention. The instructor then plays the role of assisting and correcting the learners when they make mistakes.

An advantage of adult learning is that it gives the learner a chance to take control of their learning process. Another advantage is that the method of learning can be applied in several educational situations. A disadvantage of Andragogy is that although the process is applied to most adult learning situations, Andragogy implementation is not necessarily limited to adult learning. Another disadvantage is that classification for Andragogy is hard. Several assumptions are related to classifying the discipline. For instance, it is classified as a technological theory while others say that it is a means of adult education.

Factors that affect adult learning include the learner’s life experiences, work experiences, previous adult learning life experiences, and the time in between interactions of learning and aging factors.

Most of the learning process occurs in corporate environments which involve several training processes.  Trainers and facilitators should acquire a set of skills meant to meet the needs of the environment they are teaching (Conlan, 2003).  They should have toolkits that assist in knowing how to handle adult learners.

Adult learning is based on several theories. First is the action learning theory. Here, participants are expected to work in small groups. They are supposed to work on a specific project and come up with what the activity has taught them. A benefit of the theory is that members of the group gain knowledge on how real-world problems are solved. Another advantage is that contributions given by different members of the group bring out strong points as opposed to when a single member is working on a project. A disadvantage is that there is difficulty in achieving a balance between learning from the project and accomplishing the project.

The second theory is experimental learning. Here the learner is supposed to make use of their experiences and strengths to be able to construct knowledge. An advantage is that learners acquire knowledge by doing and the life experiences enhance the work presented. A disadvantage is that learners are not exposed to new life experiences.

Project-based learning is a theory where participants are expected to solve an issue by working in small groups. They are supposed to choose the strategies and activities they will use to solve the problem. An advantage is that the learning presents an opportunity for students to learn from the real world. A disadvantage is that the activities may be time-consuming.

Self-directed learning is an informal process of learning where an individual is expected to take charge of their learning. They should achieve this by knowing what their needs are, coming up with goals, resources, strategy implementation and finally evaluation of results.  An advantage of the theory is that it can be easily incorporated into the daily activities. A disadvantage is that students may end up being unproductive since the whole process requires independence.

A Dozen Things You Need to Know about Adult Learning

The second article is for tomorrow’s professor’s postings. It is retrieved from the book ‘teaching adults’ by Ralph G Brocket and Jossey-Bass.  The name of the article writer is Rick Reis. The article is on a thousand things you need to know about adult learning. For teaching to be effective, it is important to have vital information about the learner.

First, it is important to know that most adults are actively involved in the process of learning. They ensure that they undertake at least one course annually. In most cases, those who have acquired education earlier may wish to advance the level. Secondly, it is important to note that adults can learn despite the age. This means that as much as adults may experience a decline in their cognitive skills, their life experience and wisdom can be effective tools that assist in their learning process.

The decision a tutor makes while in an adult class depends on what they intend to achieve by the end of the lesson (Ralph, 2016). For instance, where a lot of information intends to be conveyed in the shortest time possible, lectures would be appropriate. Also, a large part of adult learning is self-directed. The learner is responsible for ensuring that the program is effective.

An adult may choose to learn as a result of influence by a specific crisis or stage of developmental transition. It may be that they have lost a job, become parents or any other situation that may cause a person to look for an opportunity.  It is also important for the tutor to realize the reason why an adult has decided to go back to school.  The tutor should come up with strategies meant to help motivate their learners. Knowing how best to bring out the potential of learners facilitates effectiveness and ability to achieve goals.

It is important for tutors to understand the most effective learning style. This is because each style has advantages and disadvantages. Learning styles enhance understanding of learners. It is important o have an environment that is favorable for the tutor and learner. This is because when cooperation exists, quality learning is achieved (Ralph, 2016). Finally, it is important to understand that the purpose of adult education is to help the person be able to think independently. The tutor should, therefore, ensure that the skills they apply facilitate this.

Impact of Adult learning on Organizations

Most of the organizations which understand the concept of adult learning experience the benefits that the process brings along. Individuals who go through adult learning improve their job performance.  They can apply skill they acquired during the learning process to the work they are entitled to perform. For instance, in a case where an employee applies the action learning theory, they make use of the acquired skill to solve a problem at work.

An individual who has gone through adult learning is also capable of being more engaged in the work environment as opposed to when they had not gone through the learning process. They are highly motivated and confident while carrying out their daily activities.  This is because an effective adult learning process instills motivation.

Adult learning helps organizations retain job promotion opportunities for individuals who have gone through the process. Organizations do not have to outsource employees since employees with appropriate skill set are available. This becomes cheaper for the organization since they do not have to spend on training new employees for a certain position.  Also, organizations already know the kind of person they are engaging in the promotion and trust is not likely to come up as an issue.

Comparison of articles

Both articles relate in that they explain the several factors that influence a learner to go back to school. They range from work experiences, previous adult learning life experiences, and the time in between interactions of learning and aging factors. The second article explains that a crisis or stage of developmental transition may influence the need for learning.   For instance, the learner may have lost a job, lost a life partner or may be going through a breakup or they may have realized that they have developed a certain condition.

Both articles explain the importance of having tutors who understand their learners. It is a base for creating a good learning environment. The first article explains that going through the background of the adult learner should be a good place to start. The tutor should then understand individual needs of the learners to know how each should be handled. This is because several learners come to learn with intentions that differ from each other. The second article states that there are learners who engage in activities that may prevent them from attending all sessions. For instance, a learner who attends work from 8 to 5 pm is likely to miss a session set for 4 pm. An understanding tutor will always adjust timings if possible, to accommodate the learner.

Both articles explain that adult learning is self-directed and a personal choice a learner makes. This means that no one forced them and they know why they need to go through the process.  Tutors should, therefore, ensure that they are a source of encouragement and support to the learners. This will motivate learners’ sense of self-direction and achievement.

Lastly, both articles relate in that they explain the importance of coming up with teaching styles depending on content.  There are situations where lectures may be necessary. Other situations call for role-playing sessions, and it is important for a tutor to incorporate all styles to actively involve the learner and break the monotony.

References

Ralph, G,.Bass, J .,(2016) Teaching Adults: A Practical Guide for New Teachers,  Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company. One Montgomery Street, Suite 1200. San Francisco. Retrieved from https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/1529

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K..(2003). Adult Learning.In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved, from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

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