Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology

Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology

Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology

Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology

Synopsis

Adult education occurs whenever individuals engage in sustained, systematic learning in order to affect changes in their attitudes, knowledge, skills, or belief systems. Learning, instruction, and developmental processes are the primary foci of educational psychology research and theorizing, but educational psychologists' work in these domains has centered primarily on the childhood and adolescent school years. More recently, however, a number of educational psychologists have studied learning and development in adulthood. The results of these efforts have resulted in what is now called adult educational psychology.

The purpose of this volume is to introduce this new subfield within educational psychology. Section 1 focuses on the interplay between learning and development in adulthood, how various forms of instruction lead to different learning outcomes for adults, description of the diverse social contexts in which adult learning takes place, and the development of metacognitive knowledge across the life span. Section 2 describes both research and theory pertaining to adult intellectual functioning, thinking, and problem-solving skills within various contexts. Section 3 describes research in a variety of adult learning domains; discusses the cognitive and behavioral dimensions of reading in adulthood and the applications of reading in real-life circumstances; examines an educational intervention developed to promote forgiveness; and relates the outcomes of an intervention designed to educate parents about their children's mathematics learning. Section 4 summarizes the themes and issues running throughout this, the first book that has sought to span the gulf between adult education, adult development, and educational psychology.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to introduce a new subfield within educational psychology. We observed that there was little cross-pollination of ideas between educational psychology and adult education, despite the fact that both disciplines have much to gain from such an exchange of ideas. Whenever we talk with students and colleagues in adult education about their work and ours, we realize that there are many opportunities for collaborative efforts that can expand disciplinary boundaries, address the shortcomings and -- sometimes -- short-sightedness characterizing work in adult education and educational psychology, and will ultimately serve to advance both fields.

Adult education occurs -- to paraphrase several leading adult educators -- whenever individuals engage in sustained, systematic learning in order to affect changes in their attitudes, knowledge, skills, or belief systems. Learning, instruction, and developmental processes are primary foci of educational psychology research and theorizing, but educational psychologists' work in these domains has centered primarily on the childhood and adolescent school years. More recently, however, a number of educational psychologists have studied learning and development in adulthood. The results of these efforts resulted in what we describe as adult educational psychology. It is our belief that this work has tremendous potential to contribute to adult education. Moreover, theoretical developments, and research resulting from these theoretical advances in adult educational psychology, will be and should be informed by adult education.

This book is a heuristic tool for researchers, teachers, and graduate students in the fields of educational psychology, adult education, and adult development and stimulates new research in adult learning, development, and education. Because the study of life-span development has established a foothold in psychology, more educational psychologists are thinking about connections between learning and development in childhood and in the adult years. Unfortunately, as we suggested, the world of educational psychologists does not often incorporate knowledge from adult development or adult education; research and practice in adult education and adult development rarely draws on the knowledge base in educational psychology.

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