The Higher Order Learning Domain of the Adult Learner

The Higher Order Learning Domain of the Adult Learner

Lawrence A. Tomei (Robert Morris University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-824-6.ch005
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Teaching the adult learner has dramatically changed over the years mostly in response to research and investigations that have come to define the term “andragogy.” Although he was not the first to use the term, Malcolm Knowles popularized the term andragogy that first appeared in the writing of Alexander Kapp. Since then, many citations have compared and contrasted andragogy with pedagogy in an attempt to distinguish what makes the teaching of adults different than teaching children. Much of the research focuses on several crucial assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners. Adults are considered autonomous and self-directed learners. Active involvement by adult learners in the instructional process calls for them to serve as their own principal facilitators for learning. Instructors are advised to solicit participant perspectives about the topics presented and the strategies to be employed in teaching concepts; assessments that will ultimately evaluate their progress and performance and the responsibility for learning that will dictate the conduct of lesson delivery. Group participation and leadership are keys to successful learning.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Teaching the adult learner has dramatically changed over the years mostly in response to research and investigations that have come to define the term “andragogy.” Although he was not the first to use the term, Malcolm Knowles popularized the term andragogy that first appeared in the writing of Alexander Kapp. Since then, many citations have compared and contrasted andragogy with pedagogy in an attempt to distinguish what makes the teaching of adults different than teaching children. Much of the research focuses on several crucial assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners.

Adults are considered autonomous and self-directed learners. Active involvement by adult learners in the instructional process calls for them to serve as their own principal facilitators for learning. Instructors are advised to solicit participant perspectives about the topics presented and the strategies to be employed in teaching concepts; assessments that will ultimately evaluate their progress and performance and the responsibility for learning that will dictate the conduct of lesson delivery. Group participation and leadership are keys to successful learning. Teachers evolve into roles as guides to the knowledge under investigation rather than the dispenser of facts, data and information. Finally, adults must have foreknowledge of how the class will help them reach their personal goals.

Adults are often characterized by the quantity and quality of experiences and knowledge that they have amassed throughout their lives as a result of work-related accomplishments, family responsibilities, and previous education. Instruction is more successful when connected to this base of knowledge-experience. Relating theories and concepts from text books and lectures to real-world experiences and actual circumstances goes a long way towards promoting adult comprehension.

Adults are considerably more focused than children. When an adult enrolls in a course, they usually have a goal in mind. They usually know what they want to attain when taking a class. They look for an educational program that is organized with clearly defined learning objectives. Instructors, for their part, are compelled to show their charges how this particular class as well as specific readings, projects, and assessments, will help them secure their goals.

Adults must see a reason for learning. Instructors reveal the relevancy of learning objectives before the instruction begins. Theories and concepts must be related to familiar experiences. Participants should be afforded the opportunity to choose projects that point toward their own interests.

Adults are realistic and practical, choosing to focus on aspects of a lesson that will serve them in their work or personal situations sooner rather than later. Unlike children, adults often show little interest in knowledge with no apparent application. Instructors must explicitly reveal how lesson content applies to their job or other consequential life situations.

Adults must be respected as both individuals and learners. Acknowledging the wealth of their experiences, skills, knowledge, and practice contributes to treatment as equals in the classroom.

The literature is replete with recommendations for teaching the adult learner. For example, the use of problem-solving exercises such as case studies, simulations, and accurate scenarios based on real-world events helps make the instruction relevant to the adult’s affinity toward realistic learning opportunities. Instruction should be about authentic tasks and not about memorizing content (although some memorization is still appropriate depending on the discipline). Instructors need to put their self-esteem aside and be accepting of ideas not their own. Lessons should be planned to contain occasions where the instructor relinquishes control of the learning situation to the student and does so without threat of intimidation either from the instructor or from peers. Open-ended questions are an excellent vehicle for surfacing the array of personal experiences of the adult learner.

The Higher Order Learning (HOL) domain encourages the instructor to tie the demands of adult learner, the guiding role of the instructor, the contributions of lifelong experiences, the more complex purposes for learning, and the long-term permanence of education into a single cohesive teaching strategy. It is here that andragogy and pedagogy part ways as instruction is applied more directly to adults as learners, experts, and scholars.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset