Academic journal article Adult Learning

Characteristics of Adults as Learners Are Not Culturally Defined

Academic journal article Adult Learning

Characteristics of Adults as Learners Are Not Culturally Defined

Article excerpt

I can remember at the beginning of my graduate school experience, what I would like to consider only a few years ago, I was introduced to the writings of Malcom Knowles. At that time his "Modern Practice of Adult Education" was only a few years old and viewed as the "got to have" book for all prospective adult educators. One of the kernels of wisdom in this book that struck me as particularly relevant was his "Nine Characteristics of Adults as Learners." They made a great deal of sense to me because they were sound learning principles and because they related to who I was at the time as a learner. In addition, the professor in my major told me that they should be important to me. In any case, I refer to them often in my dealings with any adult learner regardless of level, subject or situation. To refresh your memory, the nine characteristics are:

1. Adults need to control their learning.

2. Adults need to feel that learning has immediate utility, i.e., that the application of ideas has to be delayed.

3. Adults need to feel that learning focuses on issues that directly concern them.

4. Adults need to test their learning as they go along, rather than receive background theory and general information.

5. Adults need to anticipate how they will use their learning.

6. Adults need to expect performance improvement to result from their learning.

7. Adult learning is greatest when it maximizes available resources. …

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