Adult learning has become one of the popular issues, with concerns being raised on how to teach the adults who possess different experiences. On-the-job training also involves individuals from the age of 25, who can be classified as adult learners, and who possess different characteristics from the traditional students. The following is a critical analysis of two journal articles addressing adult education, its challenges and possible solutions.
According to Kenner and Weineman (2011), educators require special strategies when dealing with adult students, since unlike the traditional students, adult learners possess different learning styles, beliefs and experiences, which can either hinder their academic success, or serve as critical basis for their success. Retrenched workers during the 2008 recession, retired military personnel and adults, who were late with their GED, are some of the main groups contributing to an increased number of adult students (Katopes, 2009). Some of the differences between traditional and non-traditional students are in the financial independence, employment status, dependants and mode of enrolment into the learning facilities. In addition, adult learners tend to be self-directed, experienced, task motivated and ready to learn (Knowles, 1974). However, they can also be rigid to changes depending on their experiences, and hence tend to take longer to learn, compared to traditional students. Adult learning theories include tacit theory, informal and formal theory. Using tacit and informal theories, adults acquire metacognitive theories and can therefore relate theoretical knowledge to their practical skills (Knowles, 1984). In addition, formal theory tends to breakdown complex theoretical frameworks for easier understanding by the adult learners.
According to Merriam (2008), adult learning is a multidimensional practice, which is drawn from various social, historical and cultural contexts. The practice addresses the needs of an individual learner, how information is acquired and how the information empowers the learner to become independent and successful. Adult learning in the twenty first century has shifted focus from an individual learner’s perspective to a learner in a specific environment (Tiedt & Tiedt, 2001). The shift has generated a different approach to adult education by recognising the context within which the learner acquires the knowledge and associating with the specific context in order to understand the learner’s perspective (Guzzetti, Snyder, Glass, & Games, 1993). While learning was previously perceived as a cognitive process, the twentieth century approach has identified that learning involves cognitive and contextual frameworks, hence explaining the connections between the brain and learner’s physical experience (Daloz, 1999). The physical experience and affective dimension of learning combines with the intellect to form significant meaning to learning and explain the multidimensional nature of adult learning (Schraw, & Moshman, 1995). In order to make adult learning effective, it is important to encourage reflection, dialogue and repertoire of instruction for creative and artistic styles of inquiry (Brookfield, 1995).
Both articles have elaborated on the strategies that ought to be followed by development educators in order to make adult learning effective. By realising the gaps existing between a traditional and a non-traditional learner, educators get an opportunity of developing useful strategies that favour adult learning. Although the first article does not address the multidimensional nature of adult learning, it recognises the strengths and weakness among adult learners and proposes possible solutions that enhance adult education.
Adult learners require new and specialised strategies in order to ensure that their weaknesses are minimised. As illustrated in both articles, adult learners possess different experiences, which can be utilised for their benefits. In addition, they require practical connections to the theoretical concepts in order to find meaning in their education.
Adult learning is becoming a popular practice in the country, mainly due to socio-economic challenges. Many individuals are finding education as the only way of securing better jobs and acquiring financial security. However, due to poor academic performance at the high school level, many individuals are finding it appropriate to take GED tests in order to join colleges or universities. However, the delay created before pursuing higher education contributes to bigger challenges for the adult learners.
The article demonstrates the weaknesses and strengths of adult learners upon joining universities or colleges. The authors have tried to relate with a practical case through Alexis, who represents thousands of adult learners joining colleges and universities after the age of 25. The article has generated different theories to support the author’s perceptions on adult learning and to illustrate the effectiveness of using new strategies for adult students. I believe the article is well illustrated, widely researched and detailed.
The author compares how adult education has recently changed by introducing various perspectives of learners in the current and previous century. The article is well illustrated with examples and comments from past researches on the same topic. As demonstrated in the article, adult learning is bound to change in coming years, due to changes in education strategies and approaches. I believe the article is relevant with the topic and can be used to conduct other similar studies.
Both articles are well researched, detailed and illustrated. They demonstrate the dimensions of adult learning, and expectations from learners and educators. The articles show the expected changes and the strategies that should be adopted to ensure adult learners benefit from their education.
Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
Guzzetti, B. J., Snyder, T. E., Glass, G. V., & Games, W. S. (1993). Promoting conceptual change in science: A comparative meta-analysis of instructional interventions from reading education and science education. Reading Research Quarterly, 28(2), 116-159.
Katopes, R (2009). Veterans returning to college are not victims, they are assets. Community College Week, 21(15), 4-5.
Kenner. C, & Weineman, J. (2011). Adult learning theory: applications to non-traditional college students. Journal of College Reading and Learning. 41(2), 87.
Knowles, M. S. (1974). Human resources development I OD. Public Administration Review, 34(2), 115-123.
Knowles, M. S. (1984). Andragogy in action. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass Publishers.
Merriam, S. B. (2008). Adult Learning Theory for the Twenty-First Century. New York, NY: Wiley Periodicals.
Schraw, G., & Moshman, D. (1995). Metacognitive theories. Educational Psychology Review, 7(4), 351-371.
Tiedt, P. & Tiedt, I. (2001). Multicultural Teaching: A Handbook of Activities, Information, and Resources. New York, NY: Pearson Education.