Social Change And Adult Learners Education Essay

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Jarvis expanded theory of \transformation of the person through learning prepositions an argument for the andragogical model and the way in which adults learn. Given the quality and extent of experiences an adult gains throughout life-span these experiences are fashioned and formed by public roles and tasks, and according to Knowles (1984) will be used as a source of learning. A desire for knowledge or to engage the learning process, often identified as eagerness to learn, is stimulated by experiencing motivating shifts in one developmental task to another or by an important life episode, creating an adjustment in behavior that leads to improvement in some characteristic of our personal being. Laher (2007) indicates that such movement on the individuals development, leads to a alteration from a subject-centered academic orientation to a problem-centered academic orientation to learning, due mainly in response to changing life occurrences.

This paper will evaluate 1) the role that social change plays from an a anadragogical approach with adult learners, 2) the responsibility of higher education institutions in facilitating adult education, and 3) briefly discuss a comparison between the role of pedagogy and andragogy approaches.

Social Change And Adult Learners

In terms of social change and the adult learner several factors are to be carefully considered. These would require being sensitive to social reaction of adult learners and attending to obstacles in the learning development process for these learners. Attempts to reach out to disadvantaged learners, fostering critical reflection associated with the process and making certain that experiential learning occurs, is all in preparation for social engagement and community advancement on behalf of the adult learner. Each of these efforts would serve to contribute to the value of college education among adult learners. Mason (2003) notes that one assumption that should be considered is the readiness of learners to be self-directed, self-motivated, and personally resourceful.

Those learners experiencing disadvantage or who lack social recognition, or experience inequality as to access to educational opportunities may result in feelings of insecurity or uncertainty when approaching self-directed academics thus resulting in feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem, borne out by the extent of their disadvantage and the main motivation for learning. Therefore, Merriam, et al. (2007) and her colleagues suggest that empowering learners to act involves a number of tasks. Facilitating an environment for adult learners so that they could create a relationships of equality is key in developing skills needed to contribute to meaningful participation in adult curriculum programming at the university level. Having a role in collegiate democracy such as problem-definition, identification of adult student needs, problem-solving, and decision-making structures and the development of critical reflection allows adult students to become more invested in the educational process and increases personal investment (pp. 23-27)

Engagement at this level and the opportunities it provides will increase a sense of academic cohesion, groups of adult learners working to carry out social change actions and individual learners moving into opportunities for engagement that address this populations academic needs will help facilitate learning environments that provide academic experiences upon which adult students can obtain valuable successes, build confidence and reach academic goals.

Experiential learning or education also helps adult learners identify their skills

and strengths in order to devise progression options, and to become "agents of their own

learning" (Connolly, 2002, p. 7). Such learning then is not only the responsibility of the individual learner, but must have a conduit by which learning is facilitated. The following section of this paper will address the responsibility of the higher education institutions role in adult education and the individual learner.

Responsibility of Higher Education Institutions

This section of the paper proposes the importance of institutions of higher education role in both providing and facilitating adult education with suitable set of courses and approach to develop the adult learning skill. Higher education institutions ambition should be to customized course curriculum to suit adult learners and make available opportunity to integrate accessible information with new material by designing curricula that pragmatically relates to the learner's developmental stage.

Adults learners are enrolling in collegiate opportunities later in their life span and this enrollment number is growing due to rapid displacement, advancements in shifts in the job market, technological demands, and movement of employment overseas. Merriam, et al. (2007) and her colleagues indicate that "two best predicators of adult participation in a state's higher education system were availability of undergraduate education (number of seats available, public and private) and educational attainment of the state's adult population (percentage of adults with high school or higher)" (p.69). In responses to such shifts in life circumstances either on a intended or unintentional modification in their lives, responses in quest of education to maintain employment or to adjust careers, has necessitated a return to college for many older adults. It is the responsibility of higher education institutions to modify teaching tactics, curriculum, goals, and objectives to support learning accomplishments in adult learners.

To endorse external social change and to provide optimum learning environments for older adult learners requires adjusting strategies in curricula and delivery of the curriculum. Therefore, the next section of this paper will address the important character of the adult learner and the beginning of the andragogical theory.

Pedagogy Verses Andragogy

This section of the paper will briefly review insights with regard to the relationship between

the pedagogy and andragogy principles and the adult learner. The leading form of teaching in America is pedagogy, or didactic, conventional, or teacher-directed method. A different method in terms of instructing adult learners is andragogy. The purpose of this section is to provide the reader with background information regarding both instructional forms.

Pedagogical Assumptions. The pedagogical paradigm of teaching was initially developed from Greek, implying the "art and science" of teaching children. In the pedagogical technique, the teacher has accountability for the process of learning, what is learned, the way in which it will be learned, and the course content to be discovered. Knowles (1984) indicates that the Pedagogy model, seats students in a passive role requiring compliance to the teacher directed information. One of the major arguments against pedagogy is the conjecture that students only need to obtain the knowledge that he teacher deems is necessary for them to obtain.

Pedagogical strategies have been used as a system of techniques among both youth and adults and appears to have been born philosophy that "one size fits all". Knowles (1984) would argue that such an approach is unacceptable and inadequate for the adult learner, suggesting as adults mature, they become they are stifled by such teacher directed instruction, due to independence, self-direction and personal responsibility for their own learning. Adult learners are stimulated to pursue academic experiences by a genuine yearning to work out pressing issues in their lives. Increasingly, adults have the need to be self-directing and as they age, they out grow the pedagogical approach to learning and require greater control over the learning process. Knowles (1984) explains that adults change as they age, and the pedagogical model does not account for the development of adults and their learning process, Knowles indicates that this leads to tension, resentment, and resistance.

According to Ozuah (2005), pedagogical approach underscore five major positions: 1) lack of experience, 2) dependency (in terms of self concept), 3) external motivation, 4) content oriented learning, and 5) readiness to learn (Conaway, 2003 p. 22-24). Argument can be made that young people do not have the experience nor have they obtain sufficient developmental tasks to make meaningful contributions to their educational experiences. Children look to adults for objective assistance, especially is this so when speaking of academic guidance. Young person's depend on teachers for instruction and are motivated to accomplish education targets set by school districts, boards, and teachers alike. Berk (2004) insinuates that youth are concrete operational thinkers and operate in the "here and now" and are not able to apply present learning events to future life experiences. Given that assumption noted in the previous paragraphs are true, Imel (1989) suggest that Knowles Andragogy principles strongly contrasted with that of pedagogy and believed by making a through comparison between methodologies, differences between the two approaches would become self-evident for adults and children.

Andragogy Assumptions. Andragogy as a practice of ideas, model, and methodology to adult learning was pioneer to adult facilitators in the United States by Malcolm Knowles. Knowles a professor of adult education at Boston University, launched the term "andragogy" which he defined as the "art and science of helping adults learn" in 1968. In 1980 he recommended the following:

". . . andragogy is simply another model of assumptions about adult learners to be used alongside the pedagogical model, 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 (about learners) in a given situation falling in between the two ends" (Knowles, 1980, p. 43 ).

The andragogical model as envision by Knowles is based on four hypothesis about adult learners:

Their self-concept moves from dependency to independency or self-directedness.

They accumulate a reservoir of experiences that can be used as a basis on which to build learning.

Their readiness to learn becomes increasingly associated with the developmental tasks of social roles.

Their time and curricular perspectives change from postponed to immediacy of application and from subject-centeredness to performance-centeredness (1980, pp. 44-45).

The development of andragogy as a form of education has advanced the teaching of adults. Andragogy serves as a set of assumptions where in some countries it is seen as adult pedagogy, the term auto didactic is used in some countries and in others it is refer to as andragogical science (Knoll, 1981, p. 92). Beyond the shores of North America there in fact is two dominant perspectives: ". . . one by which the theoretical framework of adult education is found in pedagogy or its branch, adult pedagogy . . . and the other by which the theoretical framework of adult education is found in andragogy . . . as a relatively independent science that includes a whole system of andragogic disciplines" (Savicevic, 1981, p. 88).

Knowles (1975) makes it clear that a distention should be made contrasting the child learner from that of the adult learner. Knowles notes that adult learners evolve in the area of self-directed learning reasoning that individuals who take initiative in their own educational activities seem to learn more information at deeper levels than do those who are passive participants in their academic pursuits. An additional explanation is that self-directed learning appears "more in tune with our natural process of psychological development" (1975, p. 14). In conjunction with these factors, Knowles continues to hypothesis that maturation is the natural ability to take increasing responsibility for life. Additionally, educational institutions have evolved and offer many non-traditional academic opportunities that required students to accept major responsibility for their own academic learning.


This paper has provided a review regarding the research on approaches to adult learning in theory and practice. Additionally, consideration was given to role social change has played in adult learning programming and community outreach opportunities for this population. Noted were both success in reaching disadvantaged learners and those under-represented. The review of literature also confirms community education works particularly well for those adult learners who have experienced educational successes in high school and who have access to college courses and affordable course work.

Malcolm Knowles is credited with bringing extensive awareness to adult education. Practical application of andragogical methods to teaching can have a powerful impact on the adult learners and their college experience. Knowles' assumptions regarding andragogy was based on the learning difference between adults and children. He noted that with adulthood, a person perception of the self becomes less dependent and more self directed and in the process of life experiences the individual gains valuable information upon which to draw that aids the learning readiness. Lee (1998) informs the reader that Knowles postulates that adults search for learning opportunities to fulfill social roles or knowledge to apply to daily problems. Lastly, learning is a process that becomes less subject-oriented and more problem-centered for the adult learner (Lee, 1998). In 1984, Knowles added a fifth assumption that suggested that adults are internally motivated rather than externally motivated, and in 1990 a sixth: the need to know why something must be learned prior to learning it and its justification for being learned (Fall, 1998).

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