Preparing for Instruction 1- Characteristics of Adult Learners


I’ve decided to comment on the research and assumptions compiled by Malcom Knowles (1980 and 1984) regarding adult learning. The article below outlines the 5 assumptions Knowles made about adult learners and how these assumptions differ from childhood learning.

Adult learners are self-directed, experienced, are ready to learn, are problem-centered needing immediate application and are internally motivated. This differs from children who tend to depend upon instruction, lack experience, are told they need to learn, require subject-centered instruction with postponed application and are externally motivated.

Because children tend to learn under these assumptions, traditional educational methods work well. This typically involves instructors teaching information that must be learned, providing children with a reservoir of information for use later in life. But for adults, Knowles describes 4 principles that are better received by adult learners (coined Andragogy). Based on these principles, I tend to continue using instruction techniques that are relevant to practice and are applied practically and immediately. Styles I tend to explore in the future involve more self-directed activities. This may include facilitating students through problem solving exercises or creating scenario-based tasks to induce critically thinking.


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