Learning is an essential process that creates awareness among humans and makes them sensitive and adaptive to their environment. Learning takes place throughout the life of a person and may occur voluntarily or involuntarily resulting in acquiring social skills, behavioral change, and the individual's general disposition (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). Traditional perspective and adult learning theories have been developed in a way that different aspects presented work together to enhance development and growth among adults. This essay examines the application of the traditional learning theories in conjunction with the adult learning theories regarding their contribution to the adult cognitive development and growth.
Application of Traditional and Adult Learning Theories from the Perspective of Adult Development and Growth
Social cognitive learning theory depicts human learning as a result of what occurs in the environment within which people exist. Learners tend to develop skills, attitudes, strategies, knowledge, beliefs, and rules if they observe how others behave. They, therefore, take what is right and leave what is perceived wrong. In the concept of adult learning, problem-based learning is centered on the social cognitive development where adult learners tend to create solutions out of the knowledge, skills, and strategies they learn from the environment (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). Similarly, andragogy and self-directed learning depicted among the adult learners involves the adults developing an urge to learn after observing the environment and realizing that they have all it takes from the environment to get the best they want. Behaviorism has also been depicted in traditional learning where learners interact with the social environment that has a lot of influence on their behaviors (McGinty, Radin, & Kaminski, 2013). An example is given of language adoption that that expresses adopting the common language within the environment and the expectations of life prompting particular behaviors. Similarly, this is reflected in the transformative adult learning where they engage in obtaining new ideas about various aspects of the environment. They put these new ideas into practice allowing them to find multiple solutions to challenges they face in adulthood.
Another traditional theory is the constructivism that expresses the acquisition of knowledge and learning as a result of life experiences. Through reflection, people get a picture of the occurrence of some events in life that make them develop the urge to find out more about the events thus leading to learning (Merriam, & Bierema, 2014). Constructivism is strongly related to the experiential adult learning theory that similarly identifies the experiences of a person that prompt them to learn. An example is given of an experimental knowledge acquired in the laboratory where learners rely on the participation and observation of the experiments to learn.
Considerations should also be given to humanistic theory in a way that the learners have an opportunity to do what they can within their power. In a way, humanistic theory was employed in traditional learning based on the fact that learners have different abilities (Siegler, Bosworth, & Elias, 2003). The ability of an individual is not limited. Hence they can do beyond the behaviors they adopt. The same should be adopted in adult learning when applying experiential theory using the resources available to do more than what they have inherited. In the cognitivist theory group, consideration is given to understanding how the mind of a person works. Whether one is involved in the adopted behaviors or unique ones, it is important that the working of the brain is understood to define the individual well.
Analyzing Adult Cognitive Development through Application to Adult Learning
The application of the adult learning theories exhibits all the aspects that enhance adult cognitive development through knowledge and skills acquisition. For instance, under andragogy, adult learning is seen as a shift away from depending on external triggers to act, but rather one is self-driven. The change in dependence on how a person learns indicated in the cognitive change in the way he or she perceives all the happening around them (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2012). All along, an individual had initially been depending on the external conditions which have been determining their learning. However, under the adult theory of cognitive change drives a person from the inside rather than continue to depend on external factors. The old memories and past experiences start to build into perspective and individual start to have an inner understanding. The cognitive development converts resources into use in solving the past and current challenges someone is facing. People tend to make differences between situations and tell whether they are improving from the initial position or deteriorating depending on the solutions provided by the environment. In the process, the attitudes, the urge, and the desire to find a solution from self-observance contribute to new knowledge, skills, and the way of thinking in what is seen as cognitive development.
In self-directed adult learning, the independence within the environment is what triggers an individual to consider learning, find the solution and to utilize the available resources. It is the mental maturity that sends the signal to a person informing them that it is time that they take action. Initially, such thoughts never came into the mind of a person but as the person matures, the way one thinks and perceives issues changes in what can be seen as cognitive development (Siegler, IBosworth, & Elias, 2003). As an adult person, one finds it necessary that they have a different view of the issues and develop solutions on their own using the available resources. In transformative adult learning, the change the individual experiences trigger the happening of the new things around the person that prompts the individual to make an effort to discover these new ideas. It is the cognitive development that allows an individual to realize the presence of new ideas and want to use the ideas towards developing a new solution in what is seen as a transformation (Zull, 2006). Thus, transformative learning theory significantly influences the mental position of a person on a new idea and the urge to utilize it towards making life better for them and others.
In experiential theory, leaning is founded on the experiences whether regarding past or present. An adult person can follow up on what needs to be given a solution. If the experience is in the past, it can then be said that the mental perception has changed about the occurrences and now cognitive change has facilitated a person to take action towards a solution (Cozolino & Sprokay, 2006). The experiential theory is slightly similar to problem-based learning in that both occur as a result of the need to solve a past, present or future problem due to its impact on an individual. The ability to utilize the available resources to find a solution to a problem is well driven by the change in which a person views the surrounding.
Thus, regarding the adult learning theories, there is the need to understand that the approaches vary and suit different situations. In any particular environmental condition, an adult person finds oneself in, the level of the cognitive development will allow such an individual to develop a more suitable learning theory. Each of the adult learning theories exhibits relevant features to a situation and the need of the person hence allowing easier decision making. For instance, when a person is having a bad experience, he/she may apply problem-based learning to discover the problem and find a solution. Similarly, such a person may apply experiential learning and relate the current situation to a past event and find a possible solution.
Accommodations for Aging Learners Designed to Maximize Intelligence
The physical learning environment provides all it takes for the adult depending on the age to learn and benefit fully from learning. Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2012) when embracing andragogy, they called upon those in charge of educating adults to create a cooperative atmosphere while teaching. Additionally, instructors should seek to understand the goals, skills, and interests of the learners to provide suitable resources to gain their self-success (Knowles, Holton & Swanson, 2012). However, educators need not just to assume that adults have all that it takes to make their self-aspirations go through but instead, instructors should remain supportive and offer guidelines on how the adults should go about their best learning process. The continuous support should be increased and closely monitored for more aged adults who undergo learning since much of the required knowledge and skills might have gotten out of hand. Another example is given of disregarding culture in the adult learning theories which most of them seem modern. However, depending on the age of the adult learners, elements of culture should be provided such as the symbols to represent people known in the society to make it easy for the learners to link the ancient and current occurrences.
Traditionally, teaching and learning entail two parties in the action where they exchange the information from one to the other. It is the same concept in the adult learning which requires learners to apply the information they receive constructively to find solutions. Thus, the principles of effective communication should apply, which include competent writing to suit the intended purpose. Unlike traditional learning where all writings should be clear for the instructor to follow, writing in adult learning should only be able to convey the message and serve the purpose. The needed ideas should be captured and should reflect the actual thinking of an individual. Also, communication should be based on the right context of the message the sender is conveying and try to address the substantive issues. Thus, it should focus on an identified achievement depending on the context of the message.
Cozolino, L., & Sprokay, S. (2006). Neuroscience and adult learning. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 2006(110), 11-19.
Knowles, M. S., Holton III, E. F., & Swanson, R. A. (2012). The adult learner. Routledge.
McGinty, J., Radin, J., & Kaminski, K. (2013). Brainfriendly teaching supports learning transfer. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 2013(137), 49-59.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Siegler, I. C., Bosworth, H. B., & Elias, M. F. (2003). "The Brain and Cognitive Functioning," Adult development and aging. Handbook of psychology, pages 168-189.
Zull, J. E. (2006). Key aspects of how the brain learns. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 2006(110), 3-9.
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