Guest post: What is nano-learning?

This post is provided by guest blogger, N. Heidi Hess, current student in the MS Training and Development program

Earlier this year I was introduced to the idea of nano-learning. One of the biggest challenges we face in learning is simply time. How do we find time or even make time for learning? How do we sell stakeholders on investing time into training? Nano-learning may offer some solutions.

While most training modules start at about fifteen minutes in length, nano-learning refers to shortening training to about two minutes. An expert in adult learning, Malcolm Knowles explained “the perfect teachable moment as the intersection of a small question with a great small answer” (Masie, 2006). In these moments, we are ready to learn and be receptive to that learning. These moments need not be buried in hours of tedious highly technical training, but very simple, short, and direct to the point training that can be delivered electronically when the learners are ready to receive it. Training of this sort might be in the form of a power point, an infographic, a white paper, a printable job aid, a youtube video, or an interactive activity. Two minutes may not be enough time, but it seems quite reasonable to ask retail employees to spend five minutes reviewing a quick course to help improve performance. Ideally, employees would even be able to learn on a computer on the sales floor between customers so that the training may immediately be put into use.

While any minimalists reading this may be celebrating, the rest of us may be struggling. How can we possibly fit complex information into short bursts? If we look at training in a modular format and focus on one learning objective per module, the idea becomes more achievable. We can still train complex topics by focusing in on one idea at a time. A more complex topic will just require more modules versus a less complex topic that may require something as simple as an infographic. Look for the greatest small answer you can find.

Reference:

Masie, E. (2006, January). Nano-learning: Miniaturization of design. Chief Learning Officer, 5(1), 17.

Adult Learners

Excerpts from my keynote speech delivered at the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society for adult students at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL.  May 6, 2016

I am honored to be here to talk to you about one of my favorite topics – adult learning.

I have been teaching adults in one form or another for most of my career. I formally moved into what we refer to as “adult education” or the teaching of “nontraditional” students over a decade ago, and I never looked back. For me, teaching adults has become a passion, and I have found a home in furthering the agenda of adult education as a field.

You, on the other hand, might not think of yourself as an adult educator.  But in the next few minutes, I hope you’ll see why the principles of adult education have impacted you and can be used in your everyday life. No matter what field you currently work in or plan to enter, you will be working with adults, and inspiring and engaging adults can be a fun opportunity.

You may wonder why our field has an honors society for adult students.  It may seem confusing that we sometimes separate students into two groups – the “traditional” and the “non-traditional.”  After all, adults are students too, and they have many of the same struggles as a “traditional” student.

“Traditional” students stay up late to finish papers and projects. Adult students have probably done that a few times.

“Traditional” students stress over tests. I swear – no one likes to take tests.

“Traditional” students worry about meeting the expectations of their teachers. I think adults worry about this one even more so.

The difference of course is, “traditional” students don’t usually have children pulling at their attention, or bills to pay, or 40 hours of work to fit into their schedule. So, adult students – whether we call them “nontraditional” or “continuing students” or “degree completers” or some other educational lingo – they are different. You know this. You’re living it.

The theory of adult education – yes there is such a thing – outlines why these differences are significant.

  • Adult learners have life experiences and therefore approach learning with these experiences in tow. Makes sense. The experiences you have had to date help you relate to material in a different way than an 18 year old right out of high school.
  • Adult learners often have jobs and/or home responsibilities. This may seem obvious, but consider how your jobs and responsibilities affect your ability to work towards your degree. Education is often not at the top of an adult’s very long list of things to do.
  • Adult learners have needs. They get headaches. They have body aches. They get tired after long days. And the list goes on.

Hence, we in higher education have figured out that separating the “traditional” and “nontraditional” students is probably a good idea. It’s not that the two groups cannot learn from each other, but the adult’s approach may be unique.

And this honor society recognizes you for your unique accomplishments as adult students.

This leads me back to those aches and pains of being an adult student because it is within these aches that I find my work to be the most gratifying.

I think these aches and pains from life are how we find meaning.

In the 1970’s Malcolm Knowles coined a term to help us understand the meaning of adult education. Andragogy is the art of science of adult learning.

He noted five assumptions about how adults approach education.  You’ll likely connect with some of these assumptions.

  • The first is that adult students use their self-concept or self-direction to learn. You are here because something inside you pushed you to come back to school. You likely needed a lot of resources and the teachers and the support of your family, but it is your self-direction that helps you learn.
  • Another of Knowles assumptions is that an adult’s motivation to learn is internal, and the adult student must find this motivation to learn. I am sure you each have your own motivation for being in school and being here tonight.
  • Knowles other assumptions indicate that adults bring their experiences to learning, they bring a readiness to learn, and finally, they must be able to apply their knowledge.

In your own journey towards your degree and towards this honor you receive today, I am sure you have learned a lot about yourself and your personal approach to learning. This is what adults do naturally. It is the reason why so many adults – like yourself – who do find their way back to education find that it is different from when they were younger.

They amaze themselves that they can do it, and that it’s not as hard as they once thought it would be. They juggle all the responsibilities and “fit it in.”

I often tell prospective students that it’s like diving into a pool. You just have to jump, and make sure you start moving your arms and legs.
Adult students amaze and awe me. They push themselves almost greater than I push them. They use that self-direction and internal motivation to make it work. I sometimes find myself telling students, it is okay to get a B. It is okay to miss an assignment. We have life that gets in the way. But most of my students – probably like you – won’t let those obstacles and barriers get in the way.  They strive for excellence  – as I know you do.

One of my students recently wrote me a note that said:

“For me, this is truly a big accomplishment. If you would have asked me twenty years ago if I could do this, I would have never believed it.”

This adult student, and each of you today, have found a pathway to achieve your goal and to do it with honors!  You have worked through your aches and pains to arrive here and we celebrate you.

Be proud of yourself. You have proven you can do it. Keep going and never give up.

And my final charge to you is this:

Go out and teach others that they can do it too.

You have recognized your aches and pains – whatever they are –

and you have turned them into the bug of lifelong learning.

Reference

Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2011). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development, 7th ed. New York: Routledge. [Kindle paperwhite].

Case Based Learning in Radiology Education

This post is provided by guest blogger, Nicole Fischer, CNMT, graduate student University of St. Francis, MS Training and Development program

There are many pathways that learners can take to fulfill knowledge gaps related to personal interests as well as professional endeavors. While much value is still placed on traditional face to face lectures, the implementation of innovative teaching strategies such as case based learning (CBL) has been implemented in medical curricula worldwide and shown great promise (Braeckman, Kint, Bekaert, Cobbaut & Janssens, 2014; Dolmans & Schmidt, 1996; Onyon, 2012).

Background

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers a number of Radiology certifications, however not all require a learner to participate in an accredited, structured learning program. According to their website, certification and registration of an individual is recognized after a set of standards have been achieved, typically through the demonstration of clinical competence and educational expertise as determined through a specific certification examination related to an area of study.

Typically, individuals interested in performing MR imaging first earn certification in Radiography through the ARRT. History has shown that these technologists then participate in on-the-job training to learn specific imaging procedures as well as face to face lectures with staff physicists to gain the didactic knowledge needed to pass the ARRT MRI Certification Examination. Therefore the purpose of this literature review is to review the use of CBL in health professions education programs and evaluate the perceived effectiveness with regards to the demonstration of clinical competence.

According to a review by Thistlewaite, Davies, Ekocha, Kidd, Macdougall, Matthews, Purkis & Clay (2012), CBL in health professional education was described as a form of inquiry based learning geared towards preparing learners for clinical practice. Furthermore, the authors discussed the importance of using authentic clinical cases to promote the application of learned theories to real life situations in an effort to assist with the integration of learning into practice.

Active Learning

            Active learning approaches have been shown to positively impact student performance (Braeckman et al., 2014; Thistlewaite et al., 2012). Learners must be challenged to acquire knowledge by means greater than attending face to face lectures in which they sit as a receptacle collecting information presented. Likewise, teaching strategies must be designed with learners in mind and focus on the need for learners to develop skills of inquiry, problem solving, critical thinking and clinical reasoning (Vittrup & Davey, 2010) as these skills are vital for all medical professionals including physicians, nurses and allied health staff.

Utilizing technology as a means to present learners with a clinical problem and provide time to consider the possible causes, effect and solutions, while utilizing a mentor’s guidance highlights ways in which CBL is effective and promotes learning (Thistlewaite et al., 2012). Likewise, opportunities for learning are enhanced when they challenge the basis of knowledge already established by the learner and encourage reflection of prior experiences (Vittrup & Davey 2010).

Motivation

            A number of studies have demonstrated increased confidence and motivation to learn as a result of participation in CBL (Hege, Ropp, Adler, Radon, Masch, Lyon & Fischer, 2007; Maleck, Fischer, Kammer, Zeiler, Mangel, Schenk & Pfeifer, 2001). The use of CBL can be useful for learners of all abilities as a means to identify gaps that exist in knowledge and may spark the desire to acquire more knowledge when gaps are recognized (Williams, 2005). As learners become more familiar with the structure and expectations of CBL, evidence suggests that health professions students enjoy the experience and believe they learn better as a result of participation (Thistlewaite et al., 2012).

Hege et al., discussed a number of aspects that should be considered when developing cases for learning which include usability of software, accessibility of cases or content and the relevance of the content or cases to the learner. This theory can be demonstrated in a study performed by Maleck et al. (2001) who reported on a case based teaching study using Radiology images in which interactivity was highly utilized and valued by the learners to whom it was offered. This format of teaching image interpretation demonstrated clear advantages when compared to utilizing multiple choice questions to assess image interpretation. It is believed that these findings are reflective of the nature and necessity to identify imaging findings in radiology (Maleck et al., 2001).

In addition, CBL when offered in an electronic format, has the potential to provide learning opportunities to users when it is convenient. Learners can access the content or cases and participate in self-directed, self-paced learning (Mishra, Snow-Lisy, Ross, Goldfarb, Goldman & Campbell, 2013).

Perceived Effectiveness

As has been discussed previously in this review, the effectiveness of CBL is contingent on the ability of the learner to link theory to practice through real-life situations. In a rather substantial study, Thistlewaite et al. (2012), evaluated 104 papers comparing the number and type of students involved, research methods used and the level of evaluation according to Kirkpatrick’s hierarchy (Kirkpatrick, 1967). The results of this study show that there is an emphasis on evaluating students according to levels one and two of Kirkpatrick’s hierarchy, student reactions and changes in attitude and knowledge as a result of participating in CBL. Their research did not however evaluate the effectiveness of CBL to influence changes in behavior, such as the demonstration of clinical competence.

A study performed by Ramaekers, Van Keulen, Van Beukelen, Kremer & Pilot (2012), evaluated the perceived effectiveness of a CBL program with regards to student competence in solving clinical problems. As a result of participation, learners in this program demonstrated increased competence in solving clinical problems as well as the ability to solve more complex cases than their counterparts within the same amount of time and with a similar level of interaction. While this research is only evaluating the competence of learners to problem solve in clinical situations, this demonstrated ability could carry over to the evaluation of clinical competence in the performance of radiology imaging studies as well.

Conclusion

CBL can serve as a springboard for critical thinking and promote in depth thinking to engage the application of knowledge gained as a result of participation in learning activities. The benefits of CBL will not only benefit individual learners, but rather, the medical institutions for which learners practice in and the patients in which these specific learners care for. The teams that learners are a part of within individual workgroups as well as interprofessionally may experience increased collaboration and teamwork. Finally, the health care system as a whole may benefit from the integration of CBL as physicians, nurses and allied health staff will have a greater understanding for procedures, processes and the manner in which patient care is delivered using today’s complex, multidisciplinary care teams.

References

Braechman, L., Kint, L. T., Bekaert, M., Cobbaut, L. & Janssens, H. (2014) Comparison of two case-based learning conditions with real patients in teaching occupational medicine. Medical Teacher, 36, 340-346.

Dolmans, D. & Schmidt, H. (1996). The advantages of problem-based curricula. Postgrad Medical Journal, 72, 535-538.

Hege, I., Ropp, V., Adler, M., Radon, K., Masch, G., Lyon, H. & Fischer M. (2007). Experiences with different integration strategies of case-based e-learning. Medical Teacher29, 791-797.

Kirkpatrick D. (1967). Evaluation of training. In: Training and development handbook. R. Craig & L. Bittel (Eds.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill. pp 131–167.

Maleck, M., Fischer, M. R., Kammer, B., Zeiler, C., Mangel, E., Schenk, F. & Pfeifer, KJ. (2001). Do computers teach better? A media comparison study for case-based teaching in radiology. RadioGraphics 21, 1025-1032.

Mishra, K., Snow-Lisy, D. C., Ross, J., Goldfarb, D. A., Goldman H. & Campbell, S. C. (2013). Evaluation of a case-based urology learning program. Urology, 82 (6), 1207-1210.

Onyon, C. (2012). Problem-based learning: A review of the educational and psychological theory. The Clinical Teacher, 9, 22-26.

Ramaekers, S., Van Keulen, H., Van Beukelen, P., Kremer, W. & Pilot, A. (2012). Effectiveness of a programme design for the development of competence in solving clinical problems. Medical Teacher, 345, e309-e316.

Thistlewaite, J. E., Davies, D., Ekocha, S., Kidd, J. M., Macdougall, C., Matthews, P., Purkis, J. & Clay, D. (2012). The effectiveness of case-based learning in health professional education. A BEME systematic review: BEME guide No. 23. Medical Teacher, 34, e421-e444.

Vittrup, AC. & Davey, A. (2010). Problem based learning – ‘Bringing everything together’ – A strategy for graduate nurse programs. Nurse Education in Practice, 10 (2), 88-95.

Williams, B. (2005). Case based learning – a review of the literature: Is there scope for this education paradigm in prehospital education? Emergency Medicine Journal 22, 577-581.

Online Teaching Tools for the Adult Learner

Check out my session from the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) 2015 national annual conference held this year in St. Louis, MO. Thank you to all who attended the session!

Abstract

Adult learners have unique needs, and the e-learning or online environment presents additional challenges.  Adult students seek return on their investment of time and money for education.  How do we meet these realities?  This workshop presents the unique learning needs of the adult student through the lens of adult learning theory. It addresses using adults’ experiences in a highly applied and meaningful way with e-learning tools to fulfill adult learner’s goals and desired outcomes.

Online Teaching Tools for the Adult Learner (emaze.com presentation)

Are You An Authentic Leader?

This post is co-written by Bonnie J. Covelli and Iyana Mason.

Are You An Authentic Leader?

Businessman and author Bill George popularized the theory, authentic leadership, by reflecting on his success in the business world spanning 30 years with his publications, Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value and True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, published in 2003 and 2007 respectively. According to George (2003), the five dimensions of authentic leadership include passion, values, relationships, self-discipline, and heart. Authentic leaders embody the following characteristics: 1) understanding their purpose, 2) practicing solid values, 3) leading with heart, 4) establishing connected relationships, and 5) demonstrating self-discipline (George, 2010). Rather than completing these characteristics in a sequential process, authentic leaders develop these qualities over the course of their lifetime because authentic leaders are not born that way (George, 2010).

George (2010) believed that authentic leaders lead with their hearts and learn from their own and other people’s experiences but strive to be authentic with their values and convictions. A central tenet of George’s authentic leadership model is the importance of the leader’s life story in his or her development. A study of more than 125 leaders of various ages, racial/ethnic, religious, etc. backgrounds to learn how people develop their leadership abilities conducted by George, Sims, McLean and Mayer (2007) found that there were no universal traits, styles, or skills of successful, authentic leaders. Rather, in this study, the authors found that for respondents, being authentic made them more effective as leaders. Furthermore, George asserts that the authenticity of the leader, rather than his or her style, is most important (George, 2010).

As you reflect on your own leadership characteristics, can you point to a spirit of authenticity?

References:

George, B. (2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. [Kindle paperwhite version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

George, B. (2010). Authentic Leadership. In J. T. McMahon (Ed.), Leadership Classics (pp. 574-583). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A., & Mayer, D. (2007). Discovering your authentic leadership. Harvard Business Review, 129-138.

Guest Post: Prior Learning Assessment – Earning Credit for Your Experience

The University of St. Francis has been a leader in providing prior learning credit to students, particularly adult students. The Prior Learning Assessment Program offers a way for earning credit granted for verifiable college–level learning acquired through life or work experiences that can be documented in a portfolio and is equivalent to a college course (experiential learning, training, employment, and certifications). For example, students who have earned the CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning & Performance) designation from ATD (Association for Talent Development) (formerly ASTD) can earn 3 semester hours of credits towards their MS in Training and Development at St. Francis.  This helps students move through the program quicker and provides credit for knowledge they have already achieved.

The following post about prior learning assessment is provided by guest blogger, Pat McClintock, Coordinator of Adult Student Advising and Prior Learning, University of St. Francis

Can prior learning assessment (PLA), recognition of prior learning (RPL), or prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) play a role in your educational and professional endeavors?

Yes, PLA, as it is most commonly known, can play a huge role in attaining credit toward a bachelor’s degree as well as some graduate work. As a trainer, you may have certifications or work experience that could translate into college credit. Or, you may have students who are currently working toward a degree that may have certifications or examinations that may be eligible for college credit.

For many years, higher education institutions have used this process to help adult learners to receive college credit for college-level learning from work and life experience. According to the results of an American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO, 2014) survey, more than two-thirds of responding institutions reported that they accept one type of prior learning credit and most accept more than one.

PLA is assessed in many forms: DSST and CLEP course challenge and oral examinations; standardized tests; credits earned through the American Council of Education’s Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences (ACE Guide, n.d.); and submission of a portfolio that correlates with coursework in a degree program.

Consider checking out the ACE National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training: http://www2.acenet.edu/credit/?fuseaction=browse.main . It contains ACE credit recommendations for formal courses or examinations offered by various organizations, from businesses and unions to the government and military. If you are a trainer for a specific course or exam, you can request a credit review at: https://www2.acenet.edu/salesforcecreditwebinquiry/

References:

American Council on Education. (ACE). (n.d.). National Guide. Retrieved from: http://www2.acenet.edu/credit/?fuseaction=browse.main

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). (Dec. 2014). 60 Second Survey Results: Credit for Prior Learning Practices. Retrieved from: http://www.aacrao.org/docs/default-source/PDF-                        Files/aacrao_dec_2014_60_second_survey_credit_for_prior_learning_practices.p   df?sfvrsn=4

University of St. Francis.  (2015).  Credit for work experience. Retrieved from: http://www.stfrancis.edu/admissions/adultdc/credit-for-work-experience/#.VMlXjnbwvqc

University of St. Francis. (2015). MS Training and Development. Retrieved from: https://www.stfrancis.edu/academics/master-of-science-training-development/

Guest Post: What is nano-learning?

This post is provided by guest blogger, N. Heidi Hess, current student in the MS Training and Development program

Earlier this year I was introduced to the idea of nano-learning. One of the biggest challenges we face in learning is simply time. How do we find time or even make time for learning? How do we sell stakeholders on investing time into training? Nano-learning may offer some solutions.

While most training modules start at about fifteen minutes in length, nano-learning refers to shortening training to about two minutes. An expert in adult learning, Malcolm Knowles explained “the perfect teachable moment as the intersection of a small question with a great small answer” (Masie, 2006). In these moments, we are ready to learn and be receptive to that learning. These moments need not be buried in hours of tedious highly technical training, but very simple, short, and direct to the point training that can be delivered electronically when the learners are ready to receive it. Training of this sort might be in the form of a power point, an infographic, a white paper, a printable job aid, a youtube video, or an interactive activity. Two minutes may not be enough time, but it seems quite reasonable to ask retail employees to spend five minutes reviewing a quick course to help improve performance. Ideally, employees would even be able to learn on a computer on the sales floor between customers so that the training may immediately be put into use.

While any minimalists reading this may be celebrating, the rest of us may be struggling. How can we possibly fit complex information into short bursts? If we look at training in a modular format and focus on one learning objective per module, the idea becomes more achievable. We can still train complex topics by focusing in on one idea at a time. A more complex topic will just require more modules versus a less complex topic that may require something as simple as an infographic. Look for the greatest small answer you can find.

Reference:

Masie, E. (2006, January). Nano-learning: Miniaturization of design. Chief Learning Officer, 5(1), 17.

Eduard C. Lindeman: a Father of Adult Education

Is adult education the formal classes hosted by institutions of higher education and for-profit training centers? Or is it the other side where informal training experiences help advance knowledge and cognitive understanding in a particular subject matter?

Eduard C. Lindeman was an early contributor to the study of adult learning and his reflections and teachings continue to provide a foundation for scholarly discourse within the field of adult education.

Lindeman (1926) seems to support both avenues of adult education in his broad definition. He states:

“If we are to make the most effective use of whatever quantity of intelligence is available, we shall need to grant the right of each personality to rise to its own level. This means that increased inventiveness will be required to discover the kind of education which will most effectively meet the needs of varying capacities. Formal educational discipline cannot be accepted as the criterion for ability to learn” (Lindeman, 1926, pg. 18).

Lindeman (1926) was right when he said that intelligence is an individualistic concept. And to achieve each persons’ actualization of intelligence, both formal and informal educational techniques are needed. For instance, the leader of a Girl Scout troop, with no formal education, can achieve a high level of status, power, knowledge, and intelligence through informal training techniques targeted towards areas related to fostering achievement and leadership in youth. This example supports Lindeman’s concept that formal education is not the only criterion to showcase the adults’ ability to learn.

Later in his book, Lindeman makes several statements which move into an idealistic concept of education and how education supports society. For purposes of this short discussion, I will focus on the second: “How can education supply directive energy for collective enterprise? By transforming the battle of interests from warfare to creative conflict” (Lindeman, 1926).

Creative conflict in a diverse society is often contrary to human instinct. Creative conflict certainly occurs in ivory towers and Paris coffee shops, but for those of us who live in the real world, warfare, of varying types, often makes the decision. While this may be controversial, I think it is real. It would be a wonderful ideal if education can strive towards developing future leaders to embrace creative conflict; however, in reality, I think this will be a struggle.

Reference:
Lindeman, E. (1926). The meaning of adult education. (1989 edition). Norman, OK: Harvest House, Ltd.

10 Strategies to be Successful as an Online Student

10 Strategies to be Successful as an Online Student

“1. Avoid procrastination.

2. Plan & organize weekly coursework.

3. Set goals and manage time effectively.

4. Develop and engage good study habits, then practice them.

5. Keep up with assignments and post in a timely manner.

6. Allocate time in work schedule for rest, exercise, proper nutrition, and social interaction.

7. Participate in online discussions and check into courseroom based on course requirements.

8. Communicate with professors, as often as necessary.

9. Take keyboarding class (before beginning online class) if typing and computer skills are not proficient.

10. Take notes while reading and practice becoming a good note taker and developing outlines” (Barr and Miller, 2013).

Barr, B. A., & Miller, S. F. (2013). Higher Education: The Online Teaching and Learning Experience. Online Submission, Online Teaching and Learning.

6 keys to reaching and teaching adult students

6 keys to reaching and teaching adult students

Whenever I talk about training adults, there are really two questions that need to be answered before you can begin diving into the topic: Who are the students, and do you really need to teach adults differently?

Who are the students? The snarky answer is “adults” but the diversity within that umbrella term makes subdivision rather important. Sure, corporate trainers and healthcare trainers teach adults, but do they teach the same way just because they happen to both be teaching adults? These practitioners understand the differences among adults, and the instructional strategies required to inspire them. They understand the importance of connecting the learning to the adult’s life; they practice the art of presenting training material in a way that appeals to the physical and psychological needs of their student.  The needs of the adult student are not feared in these programs and workshops and training sessions.

Why then, do we need to research and present academic scholarship on training and development of adults?

Because adults, much like teenagers and grade-schoolers, are remarkably different and constantly changing. As a corporate trainer nearly two decades ago, I developed expertise in working with adults at various stages of their lives, but if I used the same strategies and materials I did then to teach adults now, I wouldn’t get anywhere with the students. The way teaching has evolved over the past twenty years has dramatically changed my style and choice of media in teaching.

Diversity among adult student groups could be discussed at length, and how this diversity affects the instructional environment would be as varied as the training setting, the training location, the training purpose, etc. Even the categorization of the age of an adult student is a floating reality. Is your 20 year old student an adult? What if the 20 year old has a spouse and a child? How does a 25 year student differ from a 65 year old student? I think we can all agree that there are differences.  The research and academic scholarship surrounding the adult learner helps us better understand these differences in order to better serve the needs of the student.

Andragogy, one such academic scholarship theory, was defined by Knowles in the mid-1960’s, as: “the art and science of helping adults learn” (Knowles, Holton and Swanson, 2011).  The theory helps align the unique needs of adult learners with the practice of facilitating learning.  The model presented by Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2011) outlines six adult learning principles that trainers or teachers should recognize and foster as they seek to meet the needs of the adult learner.

Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2011) six adult learning principles

(1)   Adult learners need to know the purpose of training and must understand why or how the learning affects them.

(2)   Adult learners tend to be self-directed, and the learning environment should create opportunities for self-directed exploration.

(3)   Adult learners bring with them and relate their learning to prior experience.

(4)   Adult learners must be ready to learn, and their personal environments often impact their readiness.

(5)   Adult learners often approach learning from the perspective of problem solving or hands-on application.

(6)   Adult learners are motivated to learn for different reasons but often it is related to internal or external rewards and benefits.

These principles transcend the environment and diversity of the student. Regardless of what life stage they are in or their demographics, these principles can guide educators and trainers to better engage their “adult” students.

Reference:

Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2011). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. (7th ed.). New York: Routledge. [Kindle paperwhite].