Learner characteristics: Adult learner

"Life is busy, adults are busy". They are actively engaged in the process of life. To take time of this busy process, adults may ask: how will this benefit me?

According to Wikipedia an adult learner is "An adult learner or, more commonly, a mature student, is a person who is older and is involved in forms of learning. Adult learners fall in a specific criteria of being experienced, and do not always have a high school diploma. Many of the adult learners go back to school to finish a degree, or earn a new one."

The learner aims at bringing
  • Changes in what people know
  • Changes in what can do
  • Changes in what people think
  • Changes in what people actually do.

Adult education is based in a philosophy called "andragogy" that is art and science of helping adults.
Adulthood is mostly defined on the basis of age or cognitive maturity.

In India, adulthood is defined between 15 to 35 years, UNESCO and organization for economics cooperation and development defines it between 24 to 65 years.

Important characteristics of Adult learner:-

Image source:https://steemit.com/steemiteducation/frieda/characteristics-of-the-educator-and-accompanist
Autonomy. Adults typically prefer a sense of control and self-direction. They like options and choice in their learning environment. Even adults who feel anxiety from self-direction may learn to appreciate this approach if given proper initial support.

Goal-oriented. Many adults have specific goals they are trying to achieve. They prefer to partake in learning activities that help them reach their goals.

Practical. Adults in the workplace prefer practical knowledge and experiences that will make work easier or provide important skills. In other words, adults need personal relevance in learning activities.

Competence and mastery. Adults like to gain competence in workplace skills as it boosts confidence and improves self-esteem.

Learning by experience. Many adults prefer to learn by doing rather than listening to lectures.
Wealth of Knowledge. In the journey from childhood to adulthood, people accumulate a unique store of knowledge and experiences. They bring this depth and breadth of knowledge to the learning situation.

Purposeful. Workplace training is often part of an initiative that involves change. Adults want to know the purpose of training and the motivation underlying an organization’s training initiative.
Emotional Barriers. Through experience, adults may fear a subject, have anxiety about a subject or feel anger about forced changes in job responsibilities or policies. These emotions can interfere with the learning process.

Results-oriented. Adults are results-oriented. They have specific expectations for what they will get out of learning activities and will often drop out of voluntary learning if their expectations aren’t met.

Outside responsibilities. Most adult learners have numerous responsibilities and commitments to family, friends, community and work. Carving out time for learning affects adult learners.

Potential physical limitations. Depending on their age and physical condition, adult learners may acquire psychomotor skills more slowly than younger students and have more difficulties reading small fonts and seeing small images on the computer screen.

Big Picture. Adults require the big picture view of what they’re learning. They need to know how the small parts fit into the larger landscape.

Responsible for Self. Adult learners often take responsibility for their own success or failure at learning.

Need for Community. Many self-directed adult learners prefer a learning community with whom they can interact and discuss questions and issues.



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