Over the course of the last several decades, researchers have made notable progress in understanding the process of human development and learning. While the principle focus of investigation has, in many cases, been with respect to child development and learning, what has been learned in this context has been utilized to better understand adult development. As such, it is not surprising to find that in recent years, theories of adult learning have been developed and used for further research into human development across the life span. With the realization that adult learning theory is notably different from theories which attempt to describe learning in childhood and adolescence, there is a clear impetus to understand how adult learning theory contributes to the larger context of understanding adult development. To this end, this investigation considers a broad review of what has been written about adult learning theory.
[...] Further, Miflin (2004) argues that when it comes to the development and application of self-directed adult learning programs, educators must be critically aware of the maturity level of individual students. According to Miflin, self-directed learning theory as a central paradigm of adult learning makes assumptions about the overall level of maturity of the adult leaner. Miflin notes that, in many cases, assumptions made about the adult leaner may not be accurate To illustrate this point, Miflin notes the following extremes of adult development: the eldest child who, orphaned at age fifteen, becomes responsible for her younger brothers and sisters, or, at the other extreme, the twenty-five-year-old student who, still living at home, is protected from life's vicissitudes by his or her doting parents” (p. [...]
[...] Self-directed learning theory drew considerable attention because it was one of the first theories to adequately define and describe the process of adult learning. While it is evident that self-directed learning has been expanded and developed in recent years, it is also clear that self-directed learning theory remains a fundamental and substantial part of research on adult learning in the classroom. Self-Directed Learning—An Overview As noted above the concept of self-directed learning was pioneered by Malcolm Knowles in the late 1960s. [...]
[...] In short, adult learners that do not use self-directed ideologies to motivate behavior and the acquisition of knowledge become forced to adopt this learning style in the adult education classroom. What is perhaps most interesting about the process of self-directed learning in the context of adult education is that it is notably different than the process of self-directed learning with children. Hmelo-Silver (2004) in her examination of self-directed learning initiatives used in elementary and middle school classrooms argues that the goal of this process is to move students toward self-directed learning. [...]
[...] While self-directed learning has application for children and adolescents, it has been recognized as critical for the development of the adult learner. Thus, it is not surprising to find exhaustive literature on the development of self-directed learning programs for adult learners. Garrison (1997) in his investigation of self-directed learning argues that this process is predicated upon a collaborative constructivist perspective on the process of learning. As defined by Garrison, the collaborative constructivist approach is collaborative perspective has the individual taking responsibility for constructing meaning while including the participation of others in confirming worthwhile knowledge. [...]
[...] Rather, the self-directed learning theory supports a natural tendency of the adult to function and learn more independently. While the self-directed learning theory provides a clear means for differentiating adult education from child or adolescent education, researchers have noted that there can be some problems with the application of self-directed learning theories. Among the most notable criticism uncovered in this investigation is the fact that adult learners that meet the chronological definition of adult may not have the educational, psychological or emotional maturity to ensure that self-directed learning methods are effective. [...]
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