I went back to Uni last year to do my Master of Adult Education (Global)) through Monash University. Subject #1: Adult Learning and Perspectives which was all about adult learning theories.
Theories are useful and practical. They help you make informed instructional design decisions:
· From the content e.g. what’s in? What’s out? How much can we realistically fit into the time we have if we want learning to happen (and so the training session is not just an information session in disguise J)?
· To the pitch level e.g. who is my audience? How do they need to use their learning? To the evaluation e.g. how will we know if the learners have learnt what they were intended to learn (taking into account teaching and learning are two different things.
Adult Learning Theory #1 - Constructivism
Constructivism tells us that learners construct their knowledge based on their personal, subjective experience of a world that external/independent to them.
‘constructivism involves the active creation and modification of thoughts, ideas, and understandings as the result of experiences that occur within socio-cultural contexts’ (Doolittle and Hicks 2003, p.77).
In constructivism, knowledge is built through the dynamic interactions processes between the learners internal environment and their external environment
· Their internal environment includes the learner’s cognitive abilities, values and beliefs, emotions, perceptual filters, personality, confidence and current state of knowledge.
· The external environment includes the social and cultural structures and the traditions of thought and language where the learner lives and works. This external environment defines how knowledge is known, what knowledge is worth knowing and what is not.
- Takes an adaptive approach to knowledge
- Sees knowledge as something that is the result of a social group’s dialogue as they make sense of the world together
- The focus is on the importance of social interaction, exploration and negotiations that enable the learner to build the meaning they need to work and live effectively
It is through the learners lived experience that they develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to be successful in their role. Both in and out of the training room.
Doolittle P.E. & Hicks D. (2003) Constructivism as a Theoretical Foundation for the Use of Technology in Social Studies, Theory & Research in Social Education, 31:1, 72-104, DOI: 10.1080/00933104.2003.10473216