By Patricia O’Neal, Master’s Candidate, TRDV 499
I attended college for the first time as an adult. After being out of high school for almost 20 years, I finally decided that it was time to earn a college degree. Now, needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive about attending college and subsequently earning a degree. I was scared and felt out of place when I walked into the classroom as the majority of the other students were much younger than me. As the semester went on, I soon discovered that I viewed situations and arrived at conclusions in a slightly different manner than my classmates.
That was back in 2004 and I have since learned that what I was experiencing at that time had a name—andragogy. Andragogy is a theory that was developed by Malcolm Knowles in the 1970s. Knowles believed that adults learn differently than children, and, as a result, should receive different treatment in the classroom. As reported by ASTD (2006), there are five principles that affect the way that adults learn according to Knowles:
- Adult learners have a need for self-direction and learn best when they have some control over what they learn.
- Linking learners’ prior experience to learning is an important way to create powerful learning.
- Learners’ readiness to learn is linked to their perception of its importance in filling their roles.
- Adult learners seek knowledge they can use immediately to solve a problem or complete a task.
- Adult learners are motivated to learn by internal incentives and curiosity (as cited in Beich, 2008, pg. 24).
Self-direction and experience are at the very core of learning for adults. Adults take the initiative and are responsible for what they learn and when they learn it. I am now in my final semester of graduate school and I can personally attest to the principles listed above. I learn best when I am able to determine and manage my own learning activities. After reading this blog post, I ask that the next time that you encounter an adult in a learning environment, please remember that adult learning is not just a theory, its reality.
As an adult, how important is it to you to be involved in the way that you learn?