Application of Adult Learning Theory in Distance Learning

Application of Adult Learning Theory in Distance Learning

Mary Rose Grant (Saint Louis University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch401


Adult learning theory suggests that adults need to perceive the relevance and purpose of learning in order to learn most effectively. Grounded in the notion that adults frame their own learning objectives, are self-directed and active participants in their learning, require constructive feedback and want opportunities to practice new skills, online and virtual learning environments are well suited for adult learners and are directly based on adult learning principles. Virtual environments provide opportunities for adults to construct learning based on what they already know and apply what they are learning in the instructional setting. An online instructor is an adult learning expert. Using adult and constructivist learning theories and current knowledge about web-based andragogy, this chapter will focus on the characteristics and learning preferences of adult-learners in virtual learning environments and recommend instructional design and teaching strategies to encourage behaviors that influence student engagement, retention and learning.

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