Principles of Adult Learning

1. Adult learning is enhanced when the learning CLIMATE fosters self-esteem and interdependence:

This climate is one in which:

2. Adult learning is enhanced when people's EXPECTATIONS are that the LEARNING OUTCOME will have meaning for them and their lives.

Conditions fostering this principle:

3. Adult learning is enhanced when people have an active role in DECISION-MAKING, and PLANNING for the learning experience, when AUTHORITY is shared.

Conditions fostering this principle:

4. Adult learning is enhanced when a 'SYNERGISTIC' view of KNOWLEDGE AND LEARNING is held.

Conditions fostering this principle:

5. Adult learning is enhanced when people are given opportunities to 'WORK WITH' THE IDEAS AND THE EXPERIENCES they have in learning situations.

Conditions fostering this principle:

6. Adult learning is enhanced when learners EVALUATE their own learning outcomes, learning skills, and need for more learning.

Adult Learning Principles

These courses have been designed on the general adult learning principles that focus on a structure that encourages individual and group leadership and sharing. The following adult learning principles have been taken into account:

1. Adults being in any learning situation with a developed and organized self concept and self esteem. In other words, they have a certain knowledge about how they operate in the world and how they feel about themselves. Learning will be facilitated if the educators publicly value their feelings and ideas about themselves.

2. Past experiences of life, work and educational experiences act both positively and negatively in learning. These experiences affect how adults perceive, select and organize incoming information, and then apply it - in short, how they learn.

3. Since past experiences are a part of a person's self concept and self esteem, an adult is more likely to become involved and stay involved in a learning experience if the teacher recognizes and uses these experiences as a part of the program.

4. Adults are helped to learn when their past experiences are applied directly to current experiences.

5. When learners value the role of learner and perceive themselves as competent and continual learners, learning will be improved.

6. Since adults usually have learning needs which are directly related to their lives and our work, they tend to define a productive learning experience as one in which they can talk about the new knowledge and/or directly apply it in order to complete tasks and solve problems. Sometimes that application takes some time to be successful, often for reasons beyond the immediate control of the teacher. If the learner has access to consistent and relevant support and the chance for repeated practice and evaluative comment, then the learning will be more effective and efficient.

7. If adults are acquiring new skills, they need to have expert and fast feedback as they practise these skills.

8. Adults learn best if they are not under undue stress.

9. Adults have their own preferred and habitual ways of thinking and learning. These ways operate productively in some learning environments and unproductively in others.

10. Adults have two fundamental drives: one is to mastery and autonomy, and the other is to belong or affiliate with significant individuals and groups. Learning activities should accommodate these drives to action as far as possible.

11. Teaching and learning are both enhanced when teachers and learners share in choosing directions, providing input, designing and implementing activities and assess outcomes. This collaborative activity means that the teacher's role becomes that of facilitator.


Eleanor Adam, Joanne Quinn



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