Research Paper on Adult Learning

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1167 Words
Date:  2022-06-05


Adult education characterizes the process through which adults participate in systematic as well as self-sustained activities so as to attain new forms of knowledge, values, attitudes as well as skills. In an organizational setting, understanding the adult learning theories is imperative because it aids organizational leaders to conceive, develop as well as execute the employees' learning process. Subsequently, this is imperative because it promotes the overall productivity of personnel in an organization. Today, organizations should adopt the concept of learning styles and individual personalities combined with adult learning in the development of their employees' organizational training as well as development programs.

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Theories of Adult Learning Principles

There are six main classifications of the adult learning principles. The first classification includes the instrumental learning theories, which focus on the students' or learner's experience (Klein & Mowrer, 2014). Additionally, there are three models under the instrumental learning theory. These include behavioral learning theories, which is focused on influencing the stimuli around a learner's environment that could influence their behavior (Palis & Quiros, 2014). Instrumental learning theory is also inclusive of cognitive learning, which is a model of adult learning that focuses on training the mental as well as psychological processes of learners as a way of influencing their behavior (Palis & Quiros, 2014).

Experiential learning is the last model of the instrumental learning theory and it is focused on training individuals based on their individual experience (Palis & Quiros, 2014). Moreover, the humanistic theories are the second major classification in the principles of adult learning. Furthermore, the humanistic theories focus on the learners' personal ability for self-direction, self-actualization as well as internal motivation (Palis & Quiros, 2014). Also, there are two models that are classified under the humanistic theories, which include andragogy and self-directed learning. Andragogy is focused on the adults' motivation as well as the disposition to the attainment of knowledge (Palis & Quiros, 2014).

On the other hand, self-directed learning is focused on empowering the students to plan, conduct as well as assess their individual learning. The third model of adult learning principle include the transformative learning theory and it provides an exploration of how a learner can use critical reflection to challenge his/her belief and assumptions (Palis & Quiros, 2014). The social theories of learning are the fourth model of the adult learning principle and it considers learning as well as thinking as individual social activities relevant to learning. Contrary, the motivational models form the fifth theory of adult learning principle and they emphasize on internal motivation and reflection as essential tools of learning. The last model is a reflective model and if formulates that a reflection by a learner triggers behavior change in learning.

Pedagogy vs. Andragogy

The pedagogy is a child-focused approach to teaching whereas andragogy is a teaching approach focused on adults. In other words, pedagogy characterizes the art as well as the science of aiding kids to learn while andragogy is the art and science of aiding adults to learn (Ahluwalia, et al., 2012). Moreover, the difference between pedagogy and andragogy can be portrayed based on four primary considerations. These include learning behavior, orientation to learning, motivation to learning and readiness to learn. In respect to learning behavior, adult-students are measured to be self-directed whereas children learning is not self-directed and they normally depend on teachers for the learning process (Gijbels, Donche, Richardson, & Vermunt, 2013).

Based on orientation to learning, adult learners seek to learn information that is beneficial to their personal lives and working environment. Contrary, children learning is subject-centered meaning that the subject to be taught determines the contents of learning to be presented and taught. Also, in terms of motivation to learning, adult learning is influenced by intrinsic motivators like self-esteem, curiosity, self-confidence, self-development, and desire to quality life among others. On the other hand, children learners are influenced to learn by extrinsic factors like getting good grades and avoiding the consequences of life among others (Duchesne & McMaugh, 2015). Lastly, under readiness to learn, adult learning can be influenced by a sudden change in the learners' lives while children learning is driven by the need to attain the next level of mastery or skill in learning.

How Organizations Can Apply the Concept of Learning Styles and Personalities

An organization can employ the learning styles and personalities of different personnel in the institution to promote the organization's continued performance. Additionally, the use of personality assessment tools like the Jung's Theory of Personality can be utilized by organization trainers in evaluating the characteristics of different staff members in the institution. Subsequently, this helps an organization's human resource manager in fostering positive relationships between staff members, which ultimately promotes the overall success of the organization. Moreover, such knowledge of concepts of learning styles and personalities can be combined with adult learning in organizational training and development programs. Moreover, this is by using different adult training strategies for differing personnel with the primary objective of producing highly effective and competent workforce.

Options That Organizations Have In Applying Adult Learning to a Comprehensive Training and Development Program

There are numerous options that an organization can employ in implementing adult education to the organization's training and development program. First, the organizations can use technology-based learning by using tools like web-based training programs. Also, organization educators can also perform on-the-job training, use group discussion and tutorials method, perform training lectures and role-playing and also use films and videos to train the targeted adults in the organizations. Ultimately, the other methods that can be employed in the adults training in the organization include the use planned reading, educational computerized training simulators and use of coaching or mentoring method.


In conclusion, today, organizations should adopt the concept of learning styles and individual personalities combined with adult learning in the development of their employees' organizational training as well as development programs. Moreover, the six main classifications of the adult theory principles include the instrumental learning theories, humanistic theories, transformative learning theory, social theories of learning, adult learning principle, motivational models and reflective model. Moreover, pedagogy is a child-focused approach to teaching whereas andragogy is a teaching approach focused on adults. Ultimately, some of the tools that an organization might use in applying adult learning to a comprehensive training and development program include on-the-job training, use group discussion and tutorials method, and films and videos. Others include educational computerized training simulators as well as the use of coaching or mentoring method.


Ahluwalia, P., Atkinson, S., Bishop, P., Christie, P., Hattam, R., & Matthews, J. (2012). Reconciliation and Pedagogy. New York: Routledge.

Duchesne, S., & McMaugh, A. (2015). Educational Psychology for Learning and Teaching. Melbourne: Cengage.

Gijbels, D., Donche, V., Richardson, J. E., & Vermunt, J. D. (2013). Learning Patterns in Higher Education: Dimensions and research perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Klein, S. B., & Mowrer, R. R. (2014). Contemporary Learning Theories: Volume II: Instrumental Conditioning Theory and the Impact of Biological Constraints on Learning. London: Psychology Press.

Palis, A. G., & Quiros, P. A. (2014). Adult Learning Principles and Presentation Pearls. Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology, 21(2), 114-122. doi:10.4103/0974-9233.129748

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