Inft Adult Learning Theory

Non Traditional college students make up a large percent of the total population. There are a few categories that they fall into. The first category is workers. Non-traditional students might have either lost their job or are doing training to move up the ladder from their current position. The second category is military veterans. After years in the service, their professional education took a back seat. All they know is military service. For them, it will be really hard to acclimate into civilian life.

The third category is adults that just received their GED and are now pursuing a life in higher education. It is important to provide for the adult learners so that they can thrive. M. S. Knowles said that there are four principles that characterize adult learners. They are self directed, take responsibility for their own actions, and resist having information arbitrarily imposed on them. They have an extensive depth of experience, which serves as a critical component in the foundation of their self identity.  They are ready to learn.

As most adult learners return to college voluntarily, they are likely to actively engage in the learning process. 4. They are task motivated. Adult students returning to college attend for a specific goal and the primary component of their motivational drive tends to be internal” (Knowles, 1984) According to Schraw and Moshman there are three “Metacognitive Frameworks” that help people build their own learning theories. These would include Tacit, Informal, and Formal. Some of the metacognitive skills are built over time, such is the case with tacit and informal theory.

These are made from educators and very repetitive jobs that do not require critical thinking. One of the biggest problems with adult learners is their gap in education. The adult has learned practical education instead of learning academic knowledge. Practical knowledge can be used in everyday tasks like at work. Academic knowledge is not. There are ways to help the individual bridge the gap and make connections between the two. For example, an introductory writing class might show differences in practical and academic. The adult learners will also need a detailed syllabus. A set of instructions are very important.

Adult learners are very goal oriented and need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Educators need to use strategies to invite the adult learner to want to learn. Using these strategies make it easier to adapt to a cognitive and critical thinking mindset. Article 2 Adult learning Theory for the Twenty-First Century Educators want to help facilitate learning. They must learn more about their students in order to do this through “embodied learning, spirituality, and narrative”. (Merriam, pg 93) Adult learning is a very complex problem and cannot be boiled down to something simple.

It is forever changing. There have been many advances since Mezirows idea of transformational learning. (Merriam, pg 94) A bigger value has been placed on exactly where the education is taking place like work, home, and school. There are numerous factors that can affect each place like size, lighting, and background activities. There has been an increased attention to learning context. There finally has been an acknowledgment that learning is a “multidimensional Phenomenon”. (Merriam, pg 95) It used to be that learning was taking in facts and converting it to knowledge.

Now it is said that learning involves the body, mind, spirit, and emotions. The mind (brain) changes when it is in learning mode. There is a mind body connection. There is also a connection between life experiences and mental capacity. Reflection I have read both articles completely. For the most part, I feel that they adequately describe the adult learner. There are many options that one could use to apply this to their own lives. Personally, the article Adult Learning Theory: Applications to Non-Traditional College Students really hit home. I fall into almost all of their categories.

I have a full time job and even though I haven’t lost my job yet, I feel that a college education can help me further my career. From the working standpoint, repetitiveness of my daily tasks does not contribute to a higher standard of learning. I also fall into the category for veterans. I was in the Air force for 7 years. I can relate to military veterans. Most of them are deployed a long time and school is not an option. Most of them choose to wait till they get out to start school. I had to wait from 2003 till now to get started in school and the gap in education is killing me.

Liberty University has a fantastic grasp on what I need personally to succeed in school. The articles touch base on starting school with the right mind set and environment. With the gap in education that I have it was important to see the correlation between beginning (starter) classes and making the connection between practical knowledge and academic knowledge. This will really help me. A detailed syllabus helps me keep track of what’s due and when I need to turn it in. I took it a step further and made a calendar of assignments and turn in dates.

My wife has also been enlisted in keeping me on the right path and on time. One of the articles spoke about adults being goal oriented. This is absolutely right in my case, and is a product of my own design. I need to see an end to a means. There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel for me. The article gives the impression that goal orientation is a downside to learning and I do not agree. The second article honestly was a bad choice. There was not a lot of information on how I can improve on my adult learning. It was more of a generalization about another publication than actual facts.

Having said that, we will see if there is anything that I can use The article states that adult learning is very complex. I could not agree with them more. In an average day, I work 9 hours at my job, come home, start dinner, run errands, and spend quality time with my son. It is hard to find time for studying and course work. The thing that it is not just the time constraints that get me. My environment does not help in any way. It’s dimly lit and has a loud surrounding. This makes it a little hard to concentrate. If I had a bad day at work then I probably won’t be in the right mood to study.

Over all, both articles were helpful in understanding the dilemmas that an adult learner faces. Institutions of higher learning have a grasp on how to cater to these individuals. Although each person is different, instituting the best practices works well for adult learners.


  1. Kenner, C & Weinerman J, (Spring 2011). Adult Learning Theory: Applications to Non-Traditional College Students. (41. 2), pp. 87-96
  2. Merriam B, S. , (2008). Adult Learning Theory for the Twenty-First Century. . 2008 (Issue 119), pp. 93-98

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