Adult learning theory and self-directed learning
- Adult Learning Theory.
- Self-Directed Learning?An Overview.
- Underlying Assumptions and Impact on Instruction.
- Effectiveness of the Theory in Practical Application.
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. [...]
[...] Hoban, Lawson and Mazmanian (2005) make the argument that the overall readiness of the adult to engage in self-directed learning must be taken into consideration before this paradigm is employed. Despite the issues of application that have been noted with respect to self- directed learning, empirical research that has examined this paradigm seems to suggest that, overall, self-directed learning strategies can be quite useful for improving outcomes in adult education. When applied, self- directed learning outcomes are similar to those achieved in the context of traditional leaning methods (Graham, Seabrook and Woodfield, 1999). [...]