Application of Theories and Philosophy to Practice
Theory & Method of Educating Adults
ED - Section 2
Dr. Leone Snyder
September 13, 2014
5925 Attala Road #2133
French Camp, MS 39745
A local university in central Mississippi has an “Inspire” program designed to cater and encourage adult learners to pursue programs of study for career advancements and/or career change. Population for this program are usually nontraditional students that are adult learners over the age of 24 and many have family and work responsibilities. Some students also have other life circumstances that can interfere with successful completion of educational objectives. Many of the adult learners work full time and do not live on campus.
Andragogy is a study of how adults learn best and emphasizes and values the process of learning. Collaboration and problem-based approaches to learning is used rather than didactic approaches in andragogy. Andragogy also emphasizes more equality between the educator and the student. Malcolm Knowles, an American practitioner and theorist of adult education, identified six principles of adult learning: 1. Adults are self-directed and internally motivated
2. Adults bring knowledge and life experiences to learning experiences 3. Adults are goal oriented
4. Adults are relevancy oriented
5. Adults are practical
6. Adults like to be respected
Considering the principles of adult learning identified by Knowles, I would Initiate change in some areas of the “Inspire” program to align and better attempt to meet the needs of the adult learner’s in the program. The changes would activate would reflect principles of adult learning and also help me better attempt to meet the needs of the learners in the “Inspire” program. Realizing adults are self-directed and internally motivated, I would encourage learners to voice their ideas. When adult learners feel others are forcing or imposing ideas, actions, and information on them. Following are more things educators could do to aid adult learner’s internal motivation and need to self-direct their own learning: Establish graded learning program that moves to less structure and more responsibility of the learner and less direct supervision Optimize approachability by developing rapport with the learner and encourage exploration of concepts and asking of questions Carefully and actively listen to any question the learner asks and show interest in learner’s opinions and thoughts Prior to supplying learner’s with too many facts, lead them toward inquiry Provide more specific and constructive feedback, both positive and negative Review goals and acknowledge completion of goals
As an educators I would assume a role of facilitator in a learner’s path or movement toward more self-directed learning and realize my responsibility to foster the learner’s motivation to learn internally. (Adult Learning, n.d.)
Since adults bring knowledge and life experiences to learning experiences, I would give learners opportunities to use their experience gained from life experience and existing foundation of knowledge to apply to new learning experiences. I would find out about learners interests and past experiences related to not only them personally, but related to their study and work. With this knowledge, I would assist learners in drawing on those experiences when problem-solving, applying and reflecting through reasoning processes.
Since adults are goal oriented, I would intentionally seek ways to increase learner’s awareness of the need for the skill or knowledge presented. This will help facilitate a learner’s readiness for problem-based learning. I would provide learning experiences that are meaningful and clearly linked to the learner’s personally. I would ask questions to elicit and motivate inquiry, reflection and further research.
References: Adult Learning Theory and Principles (n.d.). Retrieved from
Knowles, M. S., Holton, E. F., III, & Swanson, R. A. (2011). The adult learner (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier.
Marterna, L. (2007). Jump start the adult learner: How to engage and motivate adults using brain-compatible strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA; Corwin Press.
Tough, A. (1970). The Adult’s Learning Projects. Toronto, Canada: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
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