Principles of Adult Learning
Working at the NSCC has brought me into close contact with the notion of Adult Learning principles. In my reading, I have found that there is some confusion with this notion arising from the fact that the concept of an 'adult' learner varies. The confusion around adult learning is furthered by a mingling of teaching and training, or of a lack of distinction between cognitive learning where we embrace new ideas and concepts (such as the notion of adult learning), and behavioural learning, where we become conditioned to act or perform in a certain way (such as learning the steps to embed a video in a web page).
When considering to which 'adults' adult learning refers, a google search of adult learning literature will produce articles dealing mainly, but not exclusively, with adult literacy. Hence, in many cases, principles of adult learning are concerned with those adults who have not been successful with learning in their past. This individual contrasts sharply with a mature graduate student completing their second M.A., most notably in their motivations for learning.
Motivations also vary widely when considering the type of learning that is occuring (or expected to occur). My motivation to discuss Adult Learning is vastly different from my motivation to learn how to use our "Peoplesoft" database. The former comes from my passion for education, whereas the latter comes from a need to know how many students took a particular course last year. In the former, I WANT to understand, whereas in the latter, if someone could simply tell me the number, then I would be just as happy.
After perusing several articles and learning that the number of principles varies from four to 12 or more, I see some issue with the division of principles. After reading many of these principles, I do find that they are most certainly principles od education, or of learning, but not exclusive nor always applicable to adults, especially when I include myself as an adult student (no jokes, please).