Adult learning is quite different from children learning and educators should take into consideration specificities of adult learning to conduct the learning process successfully. In fact, adults have a different level of the cognitive development and psychologically they are different from children. In addition, adults have different social and life experience that naturally affects the process of learning. In such a situation, educators should pay attention to needs of adult learners to develop the learning process effectively and to help adults to learn successfully. At the same time, often adult learners face more difficulties while learning compared to children because they have different interests and goals compared to children as well as their cognitive skills are different from that of children and they are less developed compared to cognitive skills of children (Stewart, 158). Therefore, educators should take into consideration specificities of adult learners and motivate them to learn that will make the learning process effective and interesting for adult learners.
In fact, aspects of adult learning characteristics are quite distinct from those of children. Adult learners have different needs and different characteristics compared to children (Hooks, 137). In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that adults are autonomous and self-respected. The autonomy of adults is very important in the process of learning because they tend to demonstrate their autonomy and, therefore, they may need a different approach from the part of educators because, unlike children, adults do not view educators as authorities, who have knowledge and skills that are superior to theirs. Instead, adults view educators as equal and they do not want to limit their autonomy in the course of the learning process, for instance, doing tasks, which are unpleasant for them. Therefore, educators should respect the autonomy of adults.
Furthermore, adults have accumulated a foundation of life experiences and knowledge. Naturally, they attempt to extrapolate their life experiences and knowledge on the learning process and educators should be able to keep adult learners within the framework of the learning process. For instance, often adults have deep-rooted beliefs and educators may face substantial difficulties while changing views and beliefs of adult learners, which may be wrong and contradict to the learning material (Anyon, 522). In addition, adults often rely on their experience instead of actual knowledge they acquire in the course of learning. As a result, they may face difficulties, while learning because their life experience dominates over the learning material.
Adults are goal-oriented and this is a very important characteristic that can help educators to motivate adult learners effectively. In fact, educators just need to set right goals and priorities in the learning process to keep adult learners motivated. Adult learners should be aware of what they are learning for and what to expect after their learning.
Adults are relevancy-oriented that means that they need to have a reason for learning. In fact, reasons for learning are very important for the motivation of adult learning (Russell, 241). If they see no point for learning, the learning process will be ineffective. Moreover, learners would oppose to learning and, if they learn in a group, unmotivated learners, who see no reason for learning, may discourage other learners to keep learning successfully.
At the same time, adults are practical that means that educators need to focus on the practical side of learning. In fact, educators should organize the learning process in such a way that theory should go hand in hand with practice (McCook, 274). If adult learners acquire new learning material or certain knowledge, they should know how to implement this knowledge in their life. Otherwise, the learning will be purposeless for them. They are not interested in learning abstract concepts or issues that are irrelevant to the real life and cannot find their practical implementation in their life.
Adults need to be shown respect because they are fully-developed personalities and they have certain ambitions and achievements. Naturally they want educators to respect them. Otherwise, the risk of conflicts arises because any manifestation of disrespect may provoke aggressive response and strong opposition from the part of adult learners.
In such a situation, the facilitator takes adult learning characteristics into consideration to increase the overall effectiveness of learning. As the facilitator works with adult learners, he attempts to meet learners’ needs. In fact, the facilitator focused on the current level of knowledge of adult learners about the subject discussed in the class and he set tasks related to the subject discussed in the class. Remarkably the task encouraged adult learners to find practical implementation to theoretical knowledge they have already acquired in the course of the learning. Basically, all the learners have managed to complete the task successfully and revealed the full potential of their knowledge, which they acquired in the course of their learning, especially, the learning material which they have learned recently. In such a way, adult learners have revealed how they can apply their knowledge in the real life that apparently motivated them to carry on learning.
Furthermore, the facilitator took into consideration the current level of knowledge and life experience of adult learners. For instance, the facilitator often asked his students to draw some examples relevant to the learning material from their life experience. This move of the facilitator has proved to be quite efficient because adult learners have managed to draw a lot of examples from different fields that helped them to acquire new learning material fast and understand theoretical issues through analysis of real life examples.
At the same time, the learning environment associated with the event was conductive to creating a positive atmosphere for learning. The facilitator attempted to create friendly ambiance and he did it successfully. Adult learners were relaxed and take an active part in discussions and worked hard in the course of the event. They were enthusiastic and interested in the subject of the event and in the learning process at large. Therefore, the motivation of learners was apparently high.
Nevertheless, I would introduce some changes in the event to make it more efficient and interesting for adult learners. Even though the event was effective and successful, I would still make some improvements to make learners more engaged in the learning process and to stimulate their further development. To put it more precisely, the learning process should involve different aspects, including the development of social relationships, external expectations, social welfare, personal advancement, stimulation and cognitive interest (Monroe, 195). In case of the discussed event, the learning process focused on the development of learners but the tasks set by the facilitator seemed to be too easy for learners because they completed tasks fast and they did not seem to face any serious difficulties while working on the tasks. In this regard, I would recommend using more complex tasks to increase the confidence of learners in their abilities and potential and to make the learning process more challengeable. In fact, challengeable tasks will motivate adult learners to keep learning. Obviously, if adult learners complete tasks easily, as they actually did during the event, they feel they are skillful enough to cope with any task without a lot of efforts (Yagelsh, 205). Therefore, they will be discouraged to learn further because they believe they can do everything on their own without the assistance of educators.
However, if they confront a challengeable task, they have to work hard to complete it. In such a situation, they will feel that they need to learn more to complete tasks easily. As they see challenges and overcome them they feel the need in learning and, at the same time, they feel confident in their ability to overcome challenges successfully that motivates them to keep learning even more.
Thus, adult learners have their own specific characteristics, which make them different from other learners. Educators should take into consideration specific characteristics of adults and meet their needs to make them learning successfully. In this regard, the motivation of adult learners is particularly important. However, to motivate adult learners, educators should set clear and achievable goals and give reasons for learning. Otherwise, adult learners may be unenthusiastic in the learning process that decreases the effectiveness of learning.
Anyon, J. “From the Social Class and Hidden Curriculum of Work.” Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Reading and Writing. Ed. G. Colombo et al. Boston: St. Martin’s, 1992, p.521-540.
Hooks, B. “Confronting Class in the Classroom.” In Teaching to Transgress. Routledge, 1994.
McCook, K. Introduction to Public Librarianship, New York: Neal-Schuman, 2011.
Monroe, M.E. Library Adult Education: The Biography of an Idea. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1963.
Russell, G. The Modern Education. New York: Random House, 2002.
Stewart, W.L. Conflicts in the Classroom. LA: Touchstone, 2003.
Yagelsh, R.P. Abby’s Lament: Does Literacy Matter? New York: Routledge, 2005.