The Research Digest, February 2015, Issue Number 44

The Research Digest highlights new research in learning and teaching. This month, we are highlighting recent work on adult education. This issue was developed in conjunction with February’s issue of Best Practices on Teaching Adult Learners. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or have any suggestions for us, please send an email to To access past issues of the Research Digest, visit the LTO website.

New research on adult education methods:

Meeting the Challenge: Teaching Strategies for Adult Learners
Kappa Delta Pi Record, 2012

Abstract: “This article begins with a scenario that reflects a growing concern for both teacher and adult learner in today’s college history classroom. A student in his sixties remembers his experience as a young man growing up during this time period in American history, while the professor knows only what others have told him plus the scholarly works he studied. So how can the professor make his student’s learning experience meaningful? This article focuses on important adult learning theories and makes some recommendations for instructors with adult learners in their higher education classes. Specifically, the following questions are addressed: (1) How do adults learn, and what are the major learning theories?; (2) How can the instructor use the past experience of the adult learner to make learning more meaningful?; and (3) What best methods employed by the instructor can motivate an adult learner? By using adult learning theories with various teaching strategies, the instructor becomes more of a facilitator or coach than an instructor, and even has opportunities to learn along with his or her students.”

Graduate Students’ Perspectives on Effective Teaching
Adult Learning, 2014

Abstract: This study employed data collected over an 8-year period in which graduate students’ perspectives on effective teaching were collected during a class exercise. The data were organized into three categories: (a) “teaching competence” (knowledge of content and teaching), (b) “relationships with students” (having the best interests of students at heart), and (c) “teacher attitudes” (with respect to teaching and learning). Students appear to concur with the literature in adult and higher education that effective teaching involves far more than presenting content and the methods used to convey that content to students. Equally important are the affective or emotional processes involved in learning, forming a relationship with students, and caring about students’ learning and ability to integrate and apply new information. Therefore, adult and higher education courses that address teaching need to go further than merely addressing course design and techniques. Unless students have direct instruction in teaching and an opportunity to practice, they will often uncritically reproduce the teaching models they have experienced. This article can serve as a way to introduce information about effective teaching that emanates from a source with which students can easily identify and serve as a platform to engage students in the study of teaching.

Making the Invisible Visible: A Model for Delivery Systems in Adult Education
Journal Of Adult Education, 2007

Abstract: Delivery systems are not well defined in adult education. Therefore, this article reviews the multiple components that overlap to affect the adult learner and uses them to create a model for a comprehensive delivery system in adult education with these individual components as sub-systems that are interrelated and inter-locked. These components are philosophy, theory, method, need, educational entity, influence, outcome, and assessment. By combining these, the adult educator has access to a delivery system consisting of a full spectrum of opportunities by which the learner may realize an optimal educational experience within a learning environment. The model provides the components that can make visible this invisible system.

Understanding Career Context as a Key to Best Serving Adult Students
Adult Learning, 2014

Abstract: Professional development plays a key role in motivating many adult learners. Understanding these students' career contexts allows for more effective program development and better student services. This article presents five broad categories of career context and provides a brief framework which educators can use to more effectively anticipate the needs of different types of adult learners. The categories presented include those in nonprofessional positions, career changers, displaced workers, those in fear of displacement, and those who are upwardly mobile within stable organizations. Each of these groups has different sets of needs that should be considered by practitioners. The categories presented are intended to help educators better understand each individual, and do not purport to create fixed, inflexible, or compressive groupings of adult learners. Understandings of career context should be integrated with other aspects of adult learner theory to optimize praxis. The observations and reflections in this article are informed by work in adult career advising at a major metropolitan university.

The Effectiveness of Storytelling on Adult Learning
Journal Of Workplace Learning, 2012

Abstract: As two doctoral students and adult learners, the authors strongly believe that story telling can be a great tool for educators working with adult learners. The purpose of this paper is to increase awareness of how effective storytelling can be for adult learners. Design/methodology/approach: The approach of this paper is one of gathering information from literature written on storytelling and adult learning. The paper is designed to introduce storytelling as an effective tool for adult educators while also pointing out the different types of storytelling and its implications on e-learning. Findings: The findings from the literature review completed confirmed the authors’ view that storytelling is effective for adult learners. Research limitations/implications: Because of the chosen research approach, a more comprehensive qualitative study should be completed to enhance the research on the effectiveness of storytelling on adult learning. Practical implications: The paper gives insight as to how some organizations are using storytelling, types of effective storytelling for educators and also the implications of storytelling on e-learning. Originality/value: This paper provides resources and information for adult educators and organizations to enhance or implement another way of instructing adult learners. The focus of the paper is to get adult educators and organizations to use storytelling as part of the learning process.

Simulation Methodology in Nursing Education and Adult Learning Theory
Adult Learning, 2012

Abstract: Simulation is often used in nursing education as a teaching methodology. Simulation is rooted in adult learning theory. Three learning theories, cognitive, social, and constructivist, explain how learners gain knowledge with simulation experiences. This article takes an in-depth look at each of these three theories as each relates to simulation. Pedagogical approaches as well as ties to simulation of each theory are addressed. Finally, the implications for research and practice in health care and adult education are discussed.

Effective Strategies for Engaging Adult Learners
Journal Of College Teaching & Learning, 2011

Abstract: Innovative methods in teaching should be used in every college classroom to enhance student engagement, support any teaching environment and encourage inquiry among learners. Adults learn best by participation in relevant experiences and utilization of practical information. When adult students are active in their learning they are able to develop critical thinking skills, receive social support systems for the learning, and gain knowledge in an efficient way. The authors highlight several exemplary strategies for adult learners including, Think-Pair-Share, Tell-Help-Check, Give One, Get One, and the Immediate Feedback Assessment Test.

Discussion as a Bridge: Strategies that Engage Adolescent and Adult Learning Styles in the Postsecondary Classroom
Journal Of The Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning, 2013

Abstract: “The primary objective of this article is to see if and how attendance policy influences class attendance in undergraduate-level principles of macroeconomics classes. The second objective, which is related to the first, is to examine whether the nature of the attendance policy matters in terms of its impact on class attendance behavior. The results provide strong support that having an explicit attendance policy reduces absenteeism. The results relating to the nature of the attendance policy point to the greater effectiveness of a policy that punishes students for missing class rather than one that rewards students for good attendance.”

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