Learning Theories/Adult Learning Theories

Overview

Malcolm Knowles might well be considered the founding father of adult learning. He contrasted the “concept of andragogy, meaning “the art and science of helping adults learn,”…with pedagogy, the art and science of helping children learn” (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999, p. 272). Knowles’ original studies and writings arose from the assumption that there are significant, identifiable differences between adult learners and learners under the age of eighteen. Primarily, the differences, according to Knowles, relate to an adult learner being more self-directing, having a repertoire of experience, and being internally motivated to learn subject matter that can be applied immediately – learning that is especially “closely related to the developmental tasks of his or her social role” (p. 272).

Andragogy

Knowles (1968) popularized this European concept over thirty years ago. Andragogy, (andr – ‘man’), contrasted with pedagogy, means “the art and science of helping adults learn” (Knowles, 1980, p. 43). Knowles labeled andragogy as an emerging technology which facilitates the development and implementation of learning activities for adults. This emerging technology is based on five andragogical assumptions of the adult learner:

  1. Self-Concept: As a person matures, he or she moves from dependency to self-directness.
  2. Experience: Adults draw upon their experiences to aid their learning.
  3. Readiness: The learning readiness of adults is closely related to the assumption of new social roles.
  4. Orientation: As a person learns new knowledge, he or she wants to apply it immediately in problem solving.
  5. Motivation (Later added): As a person matures, he or she receives their motivation to learn from internal factors.

These five assumptions dovetail with the thoughts and theories of others. Merriam and Caffarella (1999) point to three keys to transformational learning: experience, critical reflection and development. The aspect of experience (the second assumption to andragogy) seems like an important consideration in creating an effective learning opportunity for adults. The learning opportunity needs to be relevant and applicable to a person’s set of experiences. Argote, McEvily, and Reagans (2003) point to experience as an important factor in one’s ability to create, retain and transfer knowledge.

Critical reflection is the second key to transformational learning and part of andragogy’s self-directed learning. Reflection/think time is yet another essential principle to creating an effective learning experience for adults. Garvin (1993) shares the importance of fostering an environment that is conducive to learning including time for reflection and analysis. Adult learners need time to contemplate the ramifications of the learning experience to their experience and responsibilities.

The third key to transformational learning is development (corresponding to the third assumption of andragogy). Merriam and Caffarella state that “the ability to think critically, which is mandatory to effecting a transformation, is itself developmental” (p. 330). If development is the outcome of transformational learning, then an effective adult learning opportunity needs to be created that will take personal development into consideration

Andragogy assumes the following about the design of learning:

  1. Adults have the need to know why they are learning something.
  2. Adults learn through doing.
  3. Adults are problem-solvers.
  4. Adults learn best when the subject is of immediate use.

According to Knowles ( 1984, Appendix D) an example used to apply the principles to personal computer training:

  1. Explain why certain skills are taught (functions, commands).
  2. Task oriented instead of memorizing. Tasks should be common tasks.
  3. Take diversity into play. Acknowledge different learning levels and experience.
  4. Allow adults to learn on their own and from their mistakes. ( M.Knowles)

Some would contend that Knowles only introduced a theory of teaching rather than a theory of adult learning. In commenting on this thought, Merriam and Caffarella (1999) referring to Hartree suggest, “that it is not clear whether Knowles had presented a theory of learning or a theory of teaching, whether adult learning was different from child learning, and whether there was a theory at all-perhaps these were just principles of good practice” (p. 273). It is further contended that Knowles did not establish a proven theory, rather he introduced a “set of well-grounded principles of good practice” (Brookfirle, 1986, p. 98).

“Within companies, instructional methods are designed for improving adult learners’ knowledge and skills. It is important to distinguish the unique attributes of adult learners so as to be better able to incorporate the principles of adult learning in the design of instruction” (Yi, 2005, p. 34). Within this context, adult learning is aimed at not only improving individual knowledge and skill, but ultimately it is the goal to improve the organizational performance by transfer of learning directly to work applications. Yi suggest three methods to foster learning in adult organizations: Problem-Based Learning which seeks to increase problem-solving and critical thinking skills; Cooperative Learning, which builds communication and interpersonal skills; and Situated Learning, which targets specific technical skills that can be directly related to the field of work (Yi, 2005). Each of these methods support the assumptions about how adults learn; specifically they are more self-directed, have a need for direct application to their work, and are able to contribute more to collaborative learning through their experience.

Experiential learning

Experiential Learning Theory emphasizes the role that true experiences play in the learning process. It is this emphasis that distinguishes itself from other learning theories. Cognitive learning theories emphasize cognition over affect and behavioral learning theories deny any role for subjective experience in the learning process.

Scholars in the field of education have two contrasting views when it comes to the concept of experiential learning. The first view defines experiential learning as a sort of learning which enables students to apply newly acquired knowledge in a relevant setting. The relevant setting can be a sponsored institution of learning with trainers, instructors, teachers, or professors to guide the lesson. The other school of thought defines experiential learning as “education that occurs as a direct participation in the events of life” (Houle, 1980, p. 221). Thus, learning is not achieved in a formal setting, but in the practice of reflection of daily experiences. Kolb furthers the second definition of experiential learning by developing a model which details learning process through experiences. Kolb and Fry’s (1975) experiential learning model is a continuous spiral process which consists of four basic elements:

  1. Concrete experience
  2. Observation and reflection
  3. Forming abstract concepts
  4. Testing in new situations

Immediate or concrete experiences are the basis for observation and reflections. These reflections are assimilated and distilled into abstract concepts from which new implications for action can be drawn (Kolb & Fry).

According to Kolb and Fry (1975), the adult learner can enter the process at any one of the elements. The adult learner moves to the next step once he or she processes their experience in the previous step.

Anxiety and the Adult Learner

An interview with psychologist Edgar Schein, Coutu suggests that more often than not, organizations fail at transformational learning. They rarely fundamentally change the behaviors within the organization. Schein dismisses the notion that learning is fun, especially for adults. He equates adult learning within organizations with that of the brainwashing techniques he observed while studying prisoners of the Korean War (Coutu, 2002). Organizations must find a method to deal with the anxiety adults experience when they are forced to “unlearn” what they know and learn something new (Coutu, 2002, p. 6). Schein discusses two kinds of anxiety: learning anxiety and survival anxiety. It is in this manner that he draws the parallel to brainwashing; that is “learning will only happen when survival anxiety is greater than learning anxiety” (Coutu, 2002, p. 6). Each of these anxieties could be managed, for example learning can be constructed in a “safe” environment where the consequences of failure are minimal. Survival anxiety can obviously be increased by threatening job loss, a lack of security, or recognizing competitive elements of the market.

Case studies & workplace examples

The adult learning experience presented itself in all of its glory and contradictions through a curriculum review taking place in a school setting. The objective was to examine the current school curriculum and evaluate it for strengths and weaknesses. The purpose for this review was to both align the curriculum with current practice and augment the curriculum to enhance student learning. Interestingly, the teachers involved in this process seemed to exhibit all the qualities of adult learners mentioned previously: learning through projects, applying self-direction to the process, challenging the process for purpose, and some approached the process with much anxiety. Engaging in the process illustrated that adult learning is individual and there were as many approaches to adult learning as there were people involved in the process.

Article Sources and Contributors

Learning Theories/Adult Learning Theories Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?oldid=2060870 Contributors: Abigor, Fishpi, Hagindaz, Panic2k4, Rdunican, Recent Runes, Red4tribe, 29 anonymous edits

License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported http:/ / creativecommons. org/ licenses/ by-sa/ 3. 0/

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MRH3CoZFj2RFrAvDNHOFao11xd_tgyahca-QZbRwmww/copy

Spring Break Curriculum Training

Well, what can I say. I began the week thinking “why did I sign up up for these trainings?” Yes, I was excited but also exhausted from this last stretch of teaching.  After it was all said and done I am so thankful these trainings were offered. I can’t imagine myself showing up the week before the kiddos come back and saying to myself, “Yes, I got this. I can teach two brand new curriculums and use the online portions of these programs.” If you have not signed up for the trainings I strongly encourage you to do so.  

The trainings were fun and in depth on how and what we will be teaching.  In both trainings we learned how to use all of the materials, plan our day to day, how it aligns with the standards, differentiated teaching strategies and materials, center ideas galore and how to bring these kids to grade level and beyond.

Benchmark is our Brand new Language arts curriculum.  At first glance it can be a little frightening. There’s a ton of material and it’s really overwhelming looking at all of it. But after a two day training I’m eager to start using the materials and planning for next year.  Benchmark uses repeated exposure to skills and strategies, along with multiple opportunities to practice all standards. It has an equal balance of Whole Group (Model/Access Grade Level Complexity) and Small Group (Differentiated Practice/Application) Literacy Instruction. All units are aligned across the grade levels giving the school a central theme for learning. Benchmark includes Shared readings, Mentor Read Alouds, Decodable Readers, an online component for teachers and students, grammar and spelling, vocabulary, phonics, reading and writing, Big Books with complex texts, text close reads, center activities, and reader’s theater.  Every day students are exposed to at least three different text. You name it, this program probably has it. It’s a complete curriculum that spirals throughout the year so that if a student doesn’t fully understand a concept it will be visited several times throughout the year. And the best part of Benchmark for k-2 teachers: there is no more ripping out and stapling the decodable readers. They are printed, stapled, and sorted for the teachers. Also, weekly and unit assessments can be completed on paper but can also be taken online with immediate results for the teacher to collect that much needed data. Benchmark’s online portion is amazing!

The official growth assessments for the Language Arts test will be taken over by iReady. iReady is our new online assessment program for both Math and Language Arts giving us the traditional Map scores. It will be the online component that will do the data tracking portion very similar to map while also giving differentiated lessons to the students for the math program. This will be taking over ST Math. It will create a year long program specific to the student which will fill missing gaps and bring them up to grade level and beyond. If a student is more than a grade level or two behind it will either give them a one year path to proficiency or a stretch path that is a multi year plan to to bring students to proficiency. For an awesome website check out i-Ready Central. It’s basically the Pinterest of i-Ready; it’s free and filled with a ton of information.

Our new Math Curriculum is Ready Classroom. Not to be confused with i-Ready.  Ready classroom is a comprehensive curriculum that includes all daily lessons, enrichment activities, centers, tools and videos for instruction. As well as the prerequisite for instruction.  All materials can be found really easily using the online portal. This curriculum is not designed to be just a pen and paper curriculum, it is designed for exploration and discussion. Students will learn to do math through whole group and small group discussion. They will learn how to problem solve in multiple ways.  A lot of what we will be doing is discussion. The print outs will primarily be used as checking for understanding and independent work. As far as lesson planning, this is a teacher heavy lesson planning curriculum. This is not a curriculum that can be pulled out and used as a script. These need to be planned out and planned so that the students can receive the full benefit of this program.  

So if you have not signed up for the trainings I strongly recommend you do so. Yes, you get paid and no, it is not mandatory.  But if you want to have a strong understand for this curriculum you should get on Go sign me up and sign up for one of these awesome trainings.  

Assistive Technology on a Budget

Image of students working with a laptop.

Sometimes we only think about computers when someone mentions technology.

When you think about using technology in the classroom you probably think about students using computers, chromebooks, or iPads. At times some students just need a little support with technology to help them with using a pencil. Whether you’re in a general education classroom or special education you have probably experienced that child in your class that hates writing because it is uncomfortable or perhaps struggles with letter formation that is so poor that you have difficulty grading the students work. You could always contact someone that can provide assistive technology for a student but that takes time and we want to provide immediate support so that our students can feel comfortable and grow.

Adaptive techSo, how do we meet the needs of learners as soon as possible? We can try affordable tricks and do-it-yourself assistive technology.  Assistive technology is any equipment, devices, and services along with the changes made to the environment to help support students. There are affordable low technology devices that can perhaps help all students. Many students struggle with fine motor skills  in part, because this generation of kids are used to playing video games or using a tablet versus past generations of children that would simply coloring to build those fine hand coordination skills. Examples of assistive Technology could be anything from special lined paper to pencil grips. There are many forms of pencil grips and some students may work better with some types of grips versus others. If you go to your local Home Depot and Lowes you can get a small piece of foam tubing in which the pencil goes inside the tube and allows the student to have a much larger pencil to grasp. Another device is a wrist brace, which runs about ten dollars at Walmart or any drug store.

I have included a video for creating a weighted marker but it also works for weighted crayons or pencils. The best part you can buy all supplies needed at a local Home Depot or Lowes. The only two items you will need in hex bolts and rubber bands. This allows the top of the pencil to be weighted to help students that hands are shaky when they are writing. In addition to modifying devices there is also simple ways to modify the surface students are writing on. By incorporating slant boards in the classroom you will be able to support those students with fine motor skills. You can affordably have slant boards for all students. A typically 2” or 3” binder will do just fine and either leave in closed or flip it open. Students can do their work on the angled service which benefits students with their fine motor skills, visual motor skills, and posture.

STEM With Magnitude.io

Picture of students watching balloon launch

Mr. McCarty’s class says goodbye to the high altitude balloon!

What fun it has been working this year with our SUSD partners at Magnitude.io. This company has three different STEM opportunities that your kids can learn with, including; ExoLab, CanSats, and High Altitude Balloon (HAB) Launch. Each of these activities had our classroom using their reading, mathematics, writing, engineering, and scientific skills to explore the world around us.

For the past two years my classes have participated in the ExoLab program. This includes a customizable electronic growth chamber where students can grow various seeds and plants. The chamber has many sensors in it that track live amounts of Oxygen, CO2, Humidity, and more. Did I mention that astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are participating in the same growth chamber experiment?! How cool is that!

With the CanSats (Can-sized Satellites) have multiple sensors, once linked with a battery, can provide real-time data that students can use for live experiments. My students have collaborated and selected eight different projects to focus on during this coming spring. Magnitude.io provided our classroom with eight individual CanSats. These soda-sized cylinders will be used to; create a weather tracking station, track students course during their mile rune in PE class, and determine if plants grow differently when surrounded by varied levels of CO2 and/or Oxygen. These experiments and accessibility to live data, changes our classrooms for the better. It changes our classrooms ‘for NGSS’. These are student driven activities and projects that are helping my students to start thinking globally, as well as locally. What project will your imagination lead?

Picture of the instrument box.

This box contains the instruments that were carried by the high altitude balloon.

Finally, one of the most exciting activities we have participated in this year, has been the High Altitude Balloon Launch that we completed on February 22nd. In preparation for this project, my students researched the layers of the atmosphere, and then presented some of their findings to other students at our school. This program contained multiple projects, such as; experiments, engineering and design applications, data analysis, and more. Our experiments included sending up a raw egg to space, to see if the pressures, temperature, and increase radiation in the atmosphere would cook or freeze the egg. The kids also sent up a batch of various plant seeds, that we intend to plant in our classroom’s hydroponic garden. We will now plant both seeds from Earth and seeds from space and determine if leaving the various layers of our atmosphere would alter the seeds or cause them to grow with any mutations, or not at all! On the final day of launch we had students from all grade levels attend our event out on the school field. Even our friends over at Commodore made the trek over to our school to watch the balloon launch. Come through any time!!

A picture of young students watching the launch.

Younger students from Hoover and Stockton Skills came out to watch the launch!

 

A picture just before launch.

This was the scene just seconds before launch.

Ted Tagami (Mr. Ted) and Tony So (Mr. Tony) head up the team from Magnitude.io that is working with SUSD teachers. It is because of their efforts that my students have been exposed to opportunities they might not have known existed. They have been so helpful and supportive of our students and we continue to be amazed by the programs they offer. I encourage any teacher looking for some unique ways to bring real-world STEM into their classrooms, to look for these programs in the future.

And special thanks to Justin Swenson from SUSD for the great photos, and a website he made for our event that can be found here

 

Older Adults and Technology

by Austin Cushman

Everytime I see my dad, born in 1933, using his smartphone and messaging on social media, I say to myself “I never thought I would see the day.” As the emergence of the PC was happening he was a big believer, yes he bought my first Mac, in personal technology.

So, let’s start with defining “older adults” in relation to technology.  Most surveys will use age ranges to define “older adults” and I will reference some of those surveys. I view it as any generation that didn’t grow up with daily access to a PC.  

250px-apple_iieMy experience started with the Apple IIe with the 5¼ floppy disks that was a glorified typewriter and a simple game console.  It slowly grew with the home internet connection, AOL, and continued with the PC, smartphones and apps.

Most of my adult ESL students easily learn the computer basics necessary to access Google Drive, G Suite and the web. However, there are some students, when first learning the basics, feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Occasionally a student will come in with no experience with computers and the web, but will quickly adapt and succeed through daily practice and peer assistance. Older students and those in the workplace have to quickly learn and adapt to the ever changing technology that connects us. Parents must be familiar with it to assist their children or check grades. Employees must be familiar with the basic skills necessary to adapt to any system found in the work environment. The “baby boomer” and previous generations have had to learn how to use technology as adults, bearing the learning curve and expense associated with buying a PC and now smartphones/tablets. With the growth of e-commerce and social media access to information and technology has become more and more a part of our daily lives. It has become more important than ever, though some would argue not required, to be proficient in the basic uses of technology.

So with the growth of technology we see from this survey, the older the generation, the lower the percentage of people who use technology.

Chart showing percentage of adults that go online.

Graph showing use of various devices by seniors vs. all adults.

04-seniors-more-likely-to-own-tabletWe continue to try and bridge the gap, while implementing the new and ever changing technology, and make sure our students and the “older generations” are ready for the 21st century demands.

 

 

 


Source of all graphs: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/

Image of Apple IIe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_IIe

Spanish Commercials on Campus

By Adriana Cruces

Giving students body cameras that will allow them to record real life conversations on campus and display their real live conversations during assemblies and parent meetings can assist assessment and growth. What do you think: survival skills or applied pedagogy?

My Students

Students in my course are first time Spanish-speaking learners who would otherwise not use their learned language or  never have spoken other languages in their home environments. Students in my course are learning how to be bilingual or multilingual and are learning how to become world travelers, however, at times these skills are only available in their classrooms. Students are exposed to multiple cultural activities which assist them in embracing their learning and are encouraged to seek and find these learned skills within their communities. Students seek outside the classroom opportunities to ensure they are exposed to real life conversations which are most of the time limited within their neighborhoods. Students are transitioning to an all technological classroom and as such require extra support and extra resources in technology. Bridging the gap between home and school, and facing the limited resources available for students it is imperative as an educator to develop opportunities in which students feel excited, have fun, and use the language they are learning and that will allow them to speak with 80% of the worlds bilingual population.

As passionate educators it is believed that students must be exposed and experience first hand using their new learned skills in order to own their Spanish language and to speak with real people outside of the learning environment to be able to apply skills learned in class in a more personalized and real life situations. Currently, schools do not offer language labs, nor provide opportunities to walk around campus creating conversations, thus creating video commercials and guiding students to interview others on campus not only will ensure students master their skills but also strengthen their fear for public speaking.

Are our schools ready to welcome technology so as to allow students to use body cameras to develop activities on campus that would expose students to critically think and use the classroom curriculum in real life scenarios!?… Aren’t we as adults seeking to learn skills that can quickly be applied in the real world?… Haven’t we limited resources for students in such way that hinders their ability to expand their creativity!  Why not adopt tools that all humans love and need to use: body cameras bridge the gap and closes the lack of real life conversations in a semi controlled environment. Do you agree?