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Adult Learning

Intelligence and Adult Development Assumptions of Andragogy Kinds of Learning and Settings for Learning Transformative Learning Motives and Barriers for Learning Principles for Effective Adult Learning

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Retrieved from: http://www.fsu.edu/~adult-ed/jenny/learning.html

"Perspectives on adult learning have changed dramatically over the decades. Adult learning has been viewed as a process of being freed from the oppression of being illiterate, a means of gaining knowledge and skills, a way to satisfy learner needs, and a process of critical self-reflection that can lead to transformation. The phenomenon of adult learning is complex and difficult to capture in any one definition." From: Cranton, P. (1994). Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 3.

Intelligence and Adult Development What is Intelligence? There are many definitions and theories of intelligence and how it can or should be measured, "Intelligence has been most often studies from the psychometric tradition which assumes that it is a measurable construct" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 170). But there are other views as well; information processing, contextual perspectives, and practical intelliegence. There are many questions to ask ourselves about intelligence: Does intelligence exist? Can intelligence be measured? If so, how? And what do we gain by measuring it? Does intelligence consist of a single factor or several factors? Are there different kinds of intelligence? Are we born with a certain "level" of intelligence or do we develop this (or lose this) as we mature? What role does culture play in intelligence--how could it affect how we measure intelligence?

Below are brief explanations of several well-known theories of intelligence. Caffarella, R. & Merriam, S. (1999). Learning in Adulthood 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Some Theories of Intelligence Cattell: Intelligence consists of two primary factors (fluid and crystallized intelligence) each with different origins. Fluid intelligence is, "...the ability to perceive complex relations and engage in short-term memory, concept formation, reasoning, and abstraction" (p. 175). Crystallized intelligence is influenced more heavily by education and experience. There is no single test that measures both fluid and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is generally thought to peak in adolescence and crystallized intelligence is beleived to increase or remain stable during most of adulthood. There have, however, been studies done to see if fluid intelligence can be restored or improved as people age (p. 175). Gardner: Intelligence has been too narrowly defined--we tend to measure only logical and linguistic abilities, ignoring other areas of competence. Gardner believes that intelligence is not a single construct--there are multiple intelligences and he has identified eight kinds: Verbal/Linguistic, Musical, Logical/Mathematical, Spatial/Visual, Bodily/Kinesthetic,

Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist Gardner's theory offers some explanation as to why people can perform certain tasks very well, but perform less well or poorly on others.His theory has also sparked much debate in the fields of education and psychology on how intelligence is measured (pp.177-8). Sternberg: Intelligence is composed of three subtheories: 1) a componential subtheory describing the internal mental mechanisms and processes involved in intelligence, 2) an experiential subtheory focusing on how a person's experience with a set of tasks or situations may affect his/her handling of those tasks; and 3) a contextual subtheory emphasizing the role of the external environment in determining what constitutes intelligent behavior in a situation. The first part of this theory is seen as universal and the other two have universal and relativistic components (p. 179) Merriam and Caffarella write: "All three intelligences are interrelated and therefore are needed in adult life. Sternberg stresses that it is not enough just to have these three abilities; rather, people are successfully intelligent when they are able to choose how and when to use these abilities effectively" (p. 180). Goleman: Goleman believes that we have two ways of knowing: The rational and the emotional. Both of these ways of knowing are intertwined, but emotional intelligence is a greater determiner of success in life. There are five domains of emotional intelligence: "knowing one's emotions, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationshps" (p. 181). Merriam and Caffarella (1999) note that Goleman is not the only theorist who sees the importance of emotional intelligence--both Gardner and Sternberg's theories deal in some ways with this idea. Intelligence and Aging Does our intelligence keep increasing as we age? Merriam and Caffarella have this to say: "Whether adults lose their intellectual abilities as they age is still open to question for a number of reasons, including a lack of consistent research methodologies and tools. The most common response is to this important issue is that adult intelligence appears relatively stable, at least until the sixth or seventh decade. If a decline in functioning does exist, it appears to apply primarily to the maximum versus average levels of functioning. In reflecting on the issue of aging and intelligence, remember that myths promote powerful images, whether the myth is grounded in fact or fiction. It has been difficult for educators and researchers alike to give up the stereotype that young equals sharp and older means dull." (1991, p. 158) Learning Processes and Aging Physical and cognitive changes that take place as we age are important to note because they can have an affect on our learning: Older learners have slower reaction times than younger learners. We need more time to learn new things as we age, however, when adults can control the pace of learning, they can often effectively compensate for their lack of speed and learn new things successfully.(1981) Vision generally declines from the age of 18 to 40. After 40 there is a sharp decline for the next 15 years, but after age 55 the decline in vision occurs at a slower rate. (1981) Around age 70 our hearing begins to decline sharply and we begin experiencing problems with pitch, volume, and rate of response. Loss of hearing can be compensated for through the use of hearing aids, but often older learners may be embarrassed by their hearing loss and feel less confident. This decline in confidence can become a greater hindrance to learning than the physical disability. (1981) Few changes have been found in both sensory and short-term memory as we age, but long term memory declines. Older adults have a harder time acquiring and retrieving information and they experience difficulties in organizing new material and in processing it. Older adults are not as able as younger learners in tests of recall, but the differences between older and younger learners in tests of recognition are small or nonexistent. (1991) When contextual learning approaches are used, less decline is found in the memory process as we age.(1991) The greatest problems with memory for older learners occur with meaningless learning, complex learning, and the learning of new things that require reassessment of old learning. (1991)

Taken from: Merriam, S. & Caffarella, R. (1991). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 159-180. Cross, P. (1981). Adults as Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 152-185.

Merriam and Caffarella (1999) make three points about how new information on intelligence in adulthood is valuable for educators: "The first is the framing of more holistic conceptions of adult intelligence that are grounded in the real lives of adults of all colors, races, and ethnic backgrounds" (p.188). We now look not only at the individual's mind, but also at how the individual and the context interact to mold intellect. We are beginning to have a better understanding of how internal and external factors can improve intellectual abilities, "This is especially important as life expectancy has increased dramatically, especially in developed nations" (pp. 188-189). Because we know that adult intelligence is much more than a score on an IQ test, adult educators can have a tremendous impact on helping their learners, especially older learners, continue to maintain and even increase their intellectual abilities, "We need to think through carefully what intellectual abilities and skills are the most useful for adults, both young and old, and could be amenable to educational interventions" (p. 189). Adult Development When we talk about how children learn, we often focus on the developmental stages that children go through as they mature. Adults likewise go through developmental stages which can be grouped chronologically or sociologically (i.e. grouped according to socially defined roles of adults). There is a difference between life-cycle phases and developmental stages. Life-cycle phases are phases which people pass through from birth to death-these phases are not part of a continuous flow toward growth and maturity. Developmental stages are more concerned with personality or ego development. While phases and stages may inform one another, they are not the same thing. Cross, P. (1981). Adults as Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 152-185. Another excellent source for info on adult development is Chapter 3 of Daloz's Effective Teaching and Mentoring (1986). Daloz presents three "maps" of how adults develop: o Levinson One of the famous "phase theorists," Levinson's map divides men's lives (yeah, I know, I'll address that point a bit later) into four main eras: Childhood/Adolescence, Early Adulthood, Middle Adulthood, and Late Adulthood. He pays special attention to transitional times between the eras and focuses on the patterns of building, breaking, and rebuilding of men's lives as they age. His map can be imagined as an ascending stairway, and Levinson is quite specific about age groups (i.e. at 20, men enter the adult world, at 35 they settle down, etc.) Kegan Kegan's theory can be imagined as an upward spiraling helix, "Beginning stages (Kegan prefers to call them balances, a term that better catches the dynamic nature of development) are characterized by impulsiveness and self-centeredness; these yield to a more 'other-centered' stance, in which interpersonal relationships and mutuality are paramount; this in turn gives way to the birth of a new and more separate self, from which finally evolves an "interindividual balance" in which the tension between "self" and "other" reaches a new synthesis. From this position one is able both to maintain a clear sense of self and yet to merge with others, dissolving and reforming one's separateness when appropriate" (p. 65). Daloz goes on to point out that Kegan sees adult development as "a series of transformations of how we see ourselves in relation to others" (p.66). Perry Imagine Perry's model as a continuum with nine positions. The positions move from dualistic thinking to greater contextual relativism, "...we will function predominantly in one range or another,and although a contextual thinker may on occasion operate dualistically, a dualistic thinker will not think contextually...Perry's positions are hierarchical and essentially invariant: each rests on the one before it, and there are no shortcuts. At the same time, however, people may move through two positions in a brief burst, or remain for long periods at a single position. Occasionally, they even retreat to an earlier stance" (p.81). Keep in mind, however, that many developmental theorists, like Levinson, based their ideas on men's development--and as usual, we're talking about white, middle-class men...so what about the rest of us?

(One point, however, in 1996, Levinson replicated his study using women, see The Season's of a Woman's Life. Information about this is also mentioned in the 2nd ed. of Learning in Adulthood.)Certainly, the above models can be used to examine the adult development of many kinds of people, but more recently, scholars have begun to look at how socio-economic factors, gender, and ethnicity can impact development. Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule (1986) used an all-female sample for their work Women's Ways of Knowing Labouvie-Vief has studied how context can influence development, instead of using age as a marker, she suggests looking at major life events. These are just two examples, for a very informative survey of adult development research, see Merriam and Caffarella's chapter 7 in Learning in Adulthood (1999). Wait! Before you dash off to the next section, think about some of these questions offered by Susan Imel, "When thinking about serving older adults, some questions for adult, career, and vocational educators that emerge from these trends include the following: What type of learning activities can be developed to address the changing work and family responsibilities of older adults? Is it feasible to link age-integrated programming with existing programs? How can educational institutions support informal, self-directed learning of older adults? Educational programs for older adults?

From: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education Trends and Issues Alerts, "A New Look at Older Adults," 1997.

Assumptions of Andragogy "Andragogy is simply another model of assumptions about learners to be used alongside the pedagogical model of assumptions, thereby providing two alternative models for testing out the assumptions as to their 'fit' with particular situations. Furthermore, the models are probably most useful when seen not as dichotomous but rather as two ends of a spectrum, with a realistic assumption in a given situation falling in between the two ends." From: Knowles, M. (1980). The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From nd Pedagogy to Andragogy 2 ed. New York: Association Press. Knowles' Andragogical Assumptions Concept of the Learner During the process of maturation, a person moves from dependency toward increasing self-directedness, but at different rates for different people and in different dimensions of life. Teachers have a responsibility to encourage and nurture this movement. Adults have a deep psychological need to be generally self-directing, but they may be dependent in certain temporary situations. As people grow and develop they accumulate an increasing reservoir of experience that becomes and increasingly rich resource for learning-for themselves and for others. Furthermore, people attach more meaning to learnings they gain from experience than those they acquire passively. Accordingly, the primary techniques in education are experiential ones--laboratory experiments, discussion, problem-solving cases, field experiences, etc. People become ready to learn something when they experience a need to learn it in order to cope more satisfyingly with real-life tasks and problems. The educator has a responsibility to create conditions and

Role of the Learner's Experience

Readiness to Learn

provide tools and procedures for helping learners discover their "needs to know." Learning programs should be organized around lifeapplication categories and sequenced according to the learners' readiness to learn. Orientation to Learning Learners see education as a process of developing increased competence to achieve their full potential in life. They want to be able to apply whatever knowledge and skill they gain today to living more effectively tomorrow. Accordingly, learning experiences should be organized around competency-development categories. People are performance-centered in their orientation to learning.

A table comparing pedagogy and andragogy can be found on pp.43-44 of the above-mentioned book.

Kinds of Learning and Settings for Learning When we discuss adult learning, we need to clarify whether we're talking about the learning itself, the design and facilitation of the learning, or where the learning is taking place. As you can imagine, there are scores of charts and lists out there describing every possible kind of learning and various educational settings. Below, you'll find a sampling of a few of these ideas (it's much easier to digest that way!). Kinds of Learning Cranton does a very nice job of quickly running through kinds of knowledge and kinds of learning and it goes somethin' like this: Habermas' Three Domains of Knowledge Technical Knowledge: includes information about cause and effect relationships in the environment and behavioristic learning theories. Practical Knowledge: Concerned with understanding what others mean; includes understanding social norms, values, political concepts, and making ourselves understood--humanistic learning theories are partly involved in this. Emancipatory Knowledge: gained through critical self-reflection and can be seen as a component of the constuctivist paradigm. Mezirow's theory of transformative learning is concerned with this kind of knowledge. (p. 9) Mezirow's Three Domains of Learning Instrumental: gaining of technical knowledge Communicative: gaining of practical knowledge Emancipatory: gaining of emancipatory knowledge (p. 9).

Cranton's Three Perspectives of Adult Learning Note: While reading this, ask yourself if Cranton is assuming that there's an external agent involved in facilitating the learning? What about self-directed learning?

Subject-Oriented Learning: The goal is to acquire content (e.g. facts, problem solving strategies, practical or technical skills); it is positivistic and most often meets the expectations of the learner and is, therefore, comfortable. The expert makes the decisions, not the learner. Consumer-Oriented Learning: Takes place when an individual expresses a need to learn, looks to the educator for fulfillment of those needs, and then proceeds to learn under the guidance of the educator. The learner makes each decision about learning--for this reason, this kind of learning falls under constructivism. Emancipatory Learning: A process of freeing ourselves from forces that limit our options and our control over our lives, forces that have been taken for granted or seen as beyond our control. This kind of learning is constructivist in nature and can be transformative. At times this learning occurs independently of the educator; at other times it is fostered deliberately. Unlike the other two kinds of learning, emancipatory learning is often a difficult and painful process. (pp.1020). All of the above taken from: Cranton, C. (1994). Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 3-21. Situated Cognition Situated cognition sees context as central in understanding how adults know something. It is, "based on the idea that what we know and the meanings we attach to what we know are socially constructed. Thus, learning and knowing are intimately linked to real-life situations" (p.156). This is not a new idea, but, as Merriam and Brockett note, adult educators are becoming more committed to respecting the role of context in learning by looking beyond individual psychology and by creating real-life contexts for learning. (The Profession and Practice of Adult Education, 1997). Settings for Learning When you read about providers of adult education, you usually only see the kinds of learning that are attached to specific educational institutions, but learning can happen in many kinds of settings. Several educators have attempted to come up with frameworks to include learning in nontraditional settings. There is some overlap here between the settings and the kinds of learning that takes place in them. And, as you've seen in kinds of learning, the framework ranges from having external direction to self-direction. (Both are educational, but one tends to emphasize instruction, the other learning.) From: Apps, J (1989). "Providers of Adult and Continuing Education: A Framework." In Merriam, S. and Cunningham, P. (Eds.) Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 275-286. Coombs' Framework Formal Learning: Schools and universities Nonformal Learning: Organized outside the formal system Informal Learning: From everyday interactions

Coombs introduced informal learning as a legitimate source of adult learning--as equally important as learning provided in formal, full-time study settings. (p. 277) Type of Education Formal Education Definition Sequences of learning that are socially organized, goal-directed and certified by a diploma or degree having currency in the public educational system. Sequences of learning that are socially organized and goal-directed but are not Examples High school education, diplomagranting vocational education, higher education degrees

Nonformal Education

CPR training, on-the-job training at work, Elderhostel, Line dancing

certified by formal education credentials. Informal Education Serendipitous or self-directed individual learning resulting from daily experience

class Learning to change a clutch by observation, learning how to care for one's children

Peterson's Framework Deliberate Education and Learning Unintentional Learning

Peterson puts adult education into the context of the rest of education; he recognizes the power of the self-directed learner who chooses a wide variety of approaches to learning; and he points out the importance of unintentional learning at home, work, from friends or the mass media, etc. (p.277) Merriam and Caffarella (1999) discuss settings for learning and include, for nonformal settings, community-based learning and indigenous learning. Community-based learning can take many different forms--citizens of a town gathering to overcome an issue in their community, cooperative extension programs, literacy and job skills programs, "A common thread to all of these programs is their focus on social action and change for the betterment of some part of the community" (p.30) Indigenous learning, "...refers to processes and structures people within particular societies have used to learn about their culture throughout their history" (Brennan, 1997 cited in Merriam and Caffarella, 1999, p. 31). This kind of learning is often connected to oral traditions and indigenous arts and can be used in other nonformal learning programs to enhance learning. Self-Directed Learning "Learning on one's own, being self-directed in one's learning is itself a context in which learning takes place. The key to placing a learning experience within this context is that the learner has the primary responsibility for planning, carrying out, and evaluating his or her own learning. Participation in self-directed learning seems almost universal--in fact, an estimated 90 percent of the population is involved with at least one self-directed learning activity a yearAdults engaging in selfdirected learning do not necessarily follow a definite set of steps or linear format. In essence, self-directed learning occurs both by design and chance--depending on the interests, experiences, and actions of individual learners and the circumstances in which they find themselvesSelf-directed learning does not necessarily mean learning in isolation-assistance is often sought from friends, experts, and acquaintances in both the planning and execution of the learning activity." From: Merriam, S. & Caffarella, R. (1991). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 54-55. A word to teachers: Self-directed learners are not necessarily students who work alone and need no guidance from an instructor. As a teacher or trainer, you may have learners who wish to be more self-directed than they are capable of being. Brookfield points out that our function as facilitators is to challenge our learners to examine their ways of thinking and doing--regardless of their level of self-direction. "To say one is meeting felt learner needs sounds humanistic, learner-centered, and admirably democratic, yet to do so without allowing one's own ideas, experience, insights, and knowledge as an educator to contribute to the educational process makes the facilitator a service manager, not a full participating contributor. It also condemns learners to staying within their own paradigms of thinking, feeling, and behaving." From: Brookfield. S. Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 21. Candy's Four Dimensions of SDL 1. Personal Autonomy (SDL as a person attribute) 2. Self-Management (SDL as the willingness and capacity to conduct one's own education) 3. Learner Control ( SDL as a mode of organizing instruction in formal settings) 4. Autodidaxy (SDL as the individual noninstitutional pursuit of learning opportunities in the "natural society setting")

Cranton uses Candy's dimensions as a framework for some of her writing on this subject; See Cranton. P. (1996). Professional Development as Transformative Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 50-74. How can I use this in my practice? Read Gerald Grow's article, "Teaching Learners to be Self-Directed." The on-line version has cartoons, too! Below is the abstract from the article to whet your appetite. From: Adult Education Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3, Spring 1991, pp. 125-149, Abstract: Based on the Situational Leadership model of Hersey and Blanchard, the Staged Self-Directed Learning Model proposes that learners advance through stages of increasing self-direction and that teachers can help or hinder that development. Good teaching matches the learner's stage of self-direction and helps the learner advance toward greater self-direction. Specific methods are proposed for teaching students at each stage, although many different teaching styles are good when appropriately applied. Several pedagogical difficulties are explained as mismatches between teacher style and learner stage, especially the mismatch between a student needing direction and a non-directive teacher. The model is applied to a course, a single class, and the overall curriculum.

Transformative Learning Transformative learning is basically the kind of learning we do as we make meaning of our lives. It's become a very popular topic in adult education because it doesn't just involve classroom learning--it involves learning about our lives. This is important because as adults, the meaning making process can change everything about how we look at work, family, and the world. If you read the literature of adult education, you'll find a lot of theoretical writing on this subject and quite a few studies. One of the best known experts in this area is a scholar named Jack Mezirow, who started studying this area in the 1970s. Mezirow came up with a set of phases that people go through when they experience transformation and those steps are: experiencing a disorienting dilemma self-examination critical assessment of assumptions recognizing that others have gone through a similar process exploring options formulating a plan of action reintegration

Now, as you can see here, transformation is something that is usually triggered by a problem, and very often transformative experiences are painful to go through. After identifying their problem or challenge, people seem to enter a phase where they reflect critically on this--this is typically a problem that you've never experienced before, so it takes a lot of thinking and talking to others to work through. During the thinking phase, people may find that they can no longer keep their old ways of thinking and being--they are compelled to change. Finally, there is an action phase where people decide to do something. This could mean that you have to break off certain relationships that don't fit your beliefs anymore; it could mean that you decide to make a career change--action can take many forms. Also, the process itself may take a long time. You could reflect on something for years before you are ready to accept new beliefs and act on them. So clearly, transformative learning is not "little" learning, and this is one of the problems that people have with this whole theory. For example, what if you go back to school and get a degree--have you transformed yourself? This is a tough question and the answer won't be the same for everybody. What Mezirow says is that learning "can consist of a change in one of our beliefs or attitudes" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 320); this is what he calls a "meaning scheme." But this isn't transformational learning in Mezirow's opinion. It's only when we change our entire perspective on something ( our meaning perspective) that we really transform. So for example, if you said, "Well, I met someone from

another country and now I think totally differently about that culture," for Mezirow this wouldn't really be considered a moment of transformative learning. Mezirow would say that you'd have to engage in all the phases of transformation first--but this encounter with this person could lead you to start questioning your assumptions about a lot of things and that could, in turn, eventually lead to transformation. A Quick Word About Critical Reflection Mezirow distinguishes among three kinds of reflection--and reflection is key in the transformation process: Content Reflection: Individuals may reflect on the content or description of a problem. This is similar to Dewey's ideas on problem solving (p.81). Process Reflection: Involves thinking about the strategies used to solve the problem rather than the content of the problem itself--this is quite a rational and orderly kind of reflection that does not incorporate intuition. Premise Reflection: Leads us to question the relevance of the problem itself--the assumptions, beliefs, or values underlying the problem are questioned. This process is distinct from problem-solving and can lead to transformative learning (p. 82). If the process of reflection leads to an awareness of an invalid, undeveloped, or distorted meaning scheme or perspective; if that scheme or perspective is then revised; and if the individual acts on the revised belief, the development has been transformative (p. 113). From: Cranton, P. (1996). Professional Development as Transformative Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 75-117.

And People Really Buy This Stuff? As you might have guessed, many people have criticized Mezirow's ideas. Some of them feel that the idea of phases (see the bulleted list above) is rather artificial--isn't it possible to transform instantly? Couldn't it also be possible to transform without critical reflection? Some people also critique Mezirow's theory for dealing too much with individuals; they believe that transformation involves society and that the individual can never be isolated from society. Other scholars also feel that transformative learning has to be put into a context to be really understood as transformation. Basically, what's important to understand is that this issue is still not settled, and although Mezirow is considered by many to be the guru of transformative learning, even he doesn't represent everyone's ideas about this. As instructors, what should this area of learning mean to us? Several adult education experts, Mezirow (of course), Brookfield, and Freire have also written on this area and they see this kind of learning as central to the goals of adult education. Again, context plays a role here, and you might disagree with this notion completely. But basically, the idea is that by "challenging our abilities to communicate, understand, and learn" (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 322), we become able to free ourselves from our own distorted ideas of the world--this, according to some, is what adult education is all about. A Word on Ethics and Transformative Learning As an educator or trainer, you have to develop your own philosophy about all of this. You might not feel that this is the goal of adult education. However, you also need to be aware of the kinds of learning that you are promoting in your classroom. Sometimes we set up activities or assignments that get people started on critically reflecting on something-what if you asked your learners to discuss why they weren't unionized after they told you about how unhappy they were with their employer? Things like this can get people thinking, and while this certainly isn't a bad thing, it can be inappropriately disruptive--remember transformative learning can be a painful process. Of course, our learners are all adults, they have to make their own decisions and it is almost impossible for us, as educators, to know how to censure everything that could cause our learners to think!

The point is, that there are times when we are in the position to trigger some critical reflection and we have to be careful how we go about doing this. At the same time, we can't force people to critically reflect on anything and we certainly cannot "schedule in" transformative learning experiences. In other words, we need to engage in some critical reflection of our own when it comes to our own teaching and training practices: Why do we teach or train the way we do? What are our goals for our learners and for ourselves as professionals? Is critical reflection something needs to be fostered in the context in which we teach or train?

For most of the info above and more on this subject see: Merriam, S. & Caffarella, R. (1999). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide, 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Motives and Barriers for Learning Why do we participate in learning? You can probably come up with a long list of reasons on your own, but as a lowly student, your opinion doesn't count! Here's what some of the BIG GUYS have come up with: Houle: Houle divides adult learners into three separate learning orientations. Goal Oriented learners use education as a means of achieving some other goal Activity Oriented learners participate for the sake of the activity itself and the social interaction it provides. Learning Oriented learners seek knowledge for its own sake.

Houle admits that these are not "pure" types; the orientations can overlap. Boshier, Morstain and Smart: Houle wasn't good enough for these guys--they had to go out and come up with an even longer list of why adults participate in learning (there's a lot of "list comparison" that goes on in educational research, isn't there?). They came up with six factors for participation: Social Relationships: make friends and meet others. External Expectations: complying with the wishes of someone else with authority. Social Welfare: desire to serve others and/or community. Professional Advancement: desire for job enhancement or professional advancement. Escape/Stimulation: to alleviate boredom and/or to escape home or work routine. Cognitive Interest: learning for the sake of learning itself.

Note: Think critically about this! Cross notes that Houle is classifying groups of people and Boshier, Morstain and Smart are identifying clusters of reasons. Houle's looking at characteristic orientations that motivate learners and Boshier, Morstain and Smart show multiple reasons existing within the same individual. The above from: Merriam, S. & Caffarella, R. (1991). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 83-86. Why don't we participate in learning? Many have done studies on non-participation. The following researchers have worked out ways of grouping specific barriers into categories Johnstone and Rivera: Found two categories; External or situation barriers and Internal or dispositional barriers.

Cross: Three categories; Situational barriers (depending person's situation at a given time), Institutional barriers (all practices and procedures that discourage adults from participation--like filling out those application forms for graduate school), Dispositional barriers (person's attitude about self and learning). Darkenwald and Merriam: Add another category to Cross' list; Informational barriers (person is not aware of educational activities available). Above taken from: Merriam, S. & Caffarella, R. (1991). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 86-90.

Note: All of the above-mentioned studies look at participation from a psychological perspective, "If one looks at the social structure rather than individual needs and interests, one discovers some very different explanations as to why adults do or do not participate in adult learning activities" (1991, p. 94). Recent studies have taken a more critical look at non-participation. Merriam and Caffarella cite several newer studies in their 1999 edition of Learning in Adulthood, one example is a study by Hall and Donaldson (1997) who looked at women without high school educations. Early pregnancies, economic status, and the amount of education of the women's parents all played a role in choosing not to participate. Other factors included not having a support system and lack of time, information, and child care. Hall and Donaldson also noted "lack of voice," meaning how a woman feels about herself and how she can express herself (p.58). Most of us can come up with many reasons for not participating in educational activities, but as educators, we may be so used to participating in learning ourselves that it becomes difficult to "think outside the box" sometimes. Merriam and Brockett (1997) devote a whole chapter (the info below is from pp.187-200) to the issue of access to adult education and list four major conditions that limit access: Geographic Conditions: There is a great divide between urban, suburban, and rural settings. Rural areas tend to have fewer resources for education. In many industrialized countries, however, inner cities may be worse off than some rural areas. Migrant and homeless people are also at a great disadvantage for receiving access to education. Demographic Factors: Age and sex influence who participates and who doesn't. Young and middle-aged adults participate more than older adults--of course, younger adults often continue learning for their jobs. But older adults tend to have less education in general than younger people, and level of education is a good predictor of who will continue to participate in educational activities. The role of age could change significantly in the future, however, in countries such as the U.S., where life expectancy continues to rise. One's sex can also determine if and how much one will participate in education. Women tend to participate less than men and their participation is qualitatively different from men's. But, this also overlaps with geographic conditions-women in developed nations may participate as much as men. In less developed countries, women often receive very little opportunity to participate. Even in wealthier nations, men are still more likely to hold higher and better paid positions than women, and are thus more likely to receive further (and better) training. Socioeconomic Conditions and Education: Those who have relatively affluent backgrounds, tend to remain that way and also tend to participate more in education. Those from less wealthy families participate less partly because they have less money to do so, but also because they don't fit into the system of education (i.e. they don't speak the same language, share the same norms, etc.) which is built and maintained by wealthier people. Formal education is also the kind of education that "counts the most," but it also costs the most and has the most prerequisites--less well-off people may be engaging in a variety of learning activities, but these activities don't count since they don't earn the learners an "official" piece of paper. Cultural Determinants: Minority groups all over the world tend to participate less than majority groups. This can be due to majority groups explicitly prohibiting the participation of minority people. It can also be that belonging to certain nonmajority groups can impact one's attitudes towards education. As a member of a particular social group, you may not feel that you can trust certain forms of education and may feel uncomfortable participating in them. Additionally, immigrant populations tend not to participate in educational activities as much as native-born populations.

Vella's 12 Principles for Effective Adult Learning 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Needs Assessment: Participation of the learner in naming what is to be learned. Safety in the environment between teacher and learner for learning and development. A sound relationship between teacher and learner for learning and development. Careful attention to sequence of content and reinforcement. Praxis: Action with reflection or learning by doing. Respect for learners as subjects of their own learning. Cognitive, affective, and psychomotor aspects: ideas, feelings, actions. Immediacy of the learning. Clear roles and role development. Teamwork: Using small groups. Engagement of the learners in what they are learning. Accountability: How do they know they know?

From: Vella, J. (1994). Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 3-22.

How We Can Become More Intelligent Learners and Teachers Twelve Characteristics of Intelligent Behavior: Note: This is not a complete list! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Persistence: Persevering when the solution to a problem is not readily apparent. Decrease Impulsivity: Think before speaking or doing. Listen: Listen to others with empathy and understanding. Flexibility in Thinking: Consider other options--there's never one right way to do everything. Metacognition: Try to be aware of your own thinking. Check for Accuracy and Precision: Revise, revise, revise. Questioning and Problem Posing: Be critical in your questioning. Use Past Knowledge: Draw on what you know and apply it to new situations. Precise Language and Thought: Use more descriptive language to communicate more precisely. Use All the Senses: Utilize as many sensory pathways as possible--visual, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory. 11. Creativity: Use your ingenuity, originality, and insightful--we are all creative beings. 12. Be Curious: Work on your sense of wonderment and inquisitiveness--learn to enjoy problem solving and develop a sense of efficacy as a thinker. What We Can Do as Teachers to Promote Intelligent Behavior: Have faith that all learners can think Help learners see thinking as a goal Present challenging problem solving opportunities Create a safe, risk-taking environment Give learners time to learn Provide a rich responsive environment for learning Pay attention to learners' developmental readiness and sequence Be the kind of learner you would have them be

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