Learning in adulthood

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Learning in adulthood

Learning theories are frameworks for describing how information is used in the learning process. The description of the learning traditional theories, for example, the Theory of Margin by McClusky attempts to assist the adult student to learn new things by cultivating positive learning attitudes (Merriam et al 218). The theory focused on understanding the challenges, demands and pressures that accompany adult learning. However, the theory was very technical and difficult to understand and apply in practical examples. Another theory was Illeris’s three dimensions of learning approach that stressed the importance of emotion, cognition and environment in adult leaning processes. This theory has a simple method of covering the basic elements that any adult learner needs to know to enrich their studying process. Lastly, the Jarvis Learning process is a theory that concentrates on social occurrences and the environment to teach adult learners. Jarvis argues that reflective learning is the best kind as adults can contemplate and reflect on their inabilities and learn how to circumvent them.

I also think that teaching adults is slightly different from teaching children in that adults are more experienced, have an interest in subjects that relate to their immediate work and are problem-centered. I learn things faster and easily than most adults can (Merriam et al 148). At the later levels, adults do not have the necessary ability that would enable them to grasp as much as children can within the same environment. My father has a harder time in grasping the basics of cloud computing even though he is a software engineer. When people grow older, the way in which they think changes. In my understanding, cognitive development meant the changes in the thinking patterns among older men. Some of the theorists who contributed toward adult cognitive development include Jean Piaget, who developed four stages of cognitive development that were based on the age of the learner. I have experienced my smaller brother growing up while he slowly learnt how to communicate, move and eat by himself (Merriam et al 187).

Knowles understands andragogy as the usage of scientific and theoretical tools to teach adult students. The difference between pedagogy and andragogy lies in the fact that I see adult education as very difficult and pedagogy as less difficult. Adults always pose more problems than children do as they have entrenched skills and ideas that may be difficult to change. Adults also tend to give up on learning new things later in their lives (Merriam et al 318). My father sometimes got very protective when he joined college and at one time, even quit engineering school because of the difficulties that accompanied his learning process.

Intellectual functioning among adults is not the same as that of children because teaching them new techniques of learning may be extremely difficult. As people become older, they tend to get reserved, satisfied and reluctant to learn new things. The relationship between age and intelligence shows that as one gets older, their intelligence diminishes significantly. Among old people, some parts of the brain become more active as they age. In my understanding, aging did not mean that older people would have lesser cognitive abilities but that they would evolve into different forms of intelligence (Merriam et al 28).

The relationship between brain development and cognition is such that as people become older, they fear that they lose memory. The sensory and working memory among older people also diminishes, as one gets older. However, older people remember current things more than historical things. This means that older people forget what they learnt a long time ago and easily remember that which they learnt recently. The sensory memory also deteriorates as one becomes older. All the five topics within the fourth chapter of Merriam’s book serve to expound on the significance of age on adult learning processes.


Work cited

Merriam, Sharan B, Rosemary S. Caffarella, and Lisa Baumgartner. Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007. Print.

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