Adults learn best when their motivation comes from a place of self- awareness and self-direction. Once their motivation has been established, they absorb information in a cognitive manner, and retain such information as a result of critical reflection. I believe adult learning is a process, rather than an end product. The rationalization of what occurs while learning takes place is called a learning theory. In my opinion, the humanist, cognitive, and critical reflection theories most accurately illustrate how adults learn best. The position of the Humanist is that a person has the capacity for self- awareness; that he has control over his behavior. The Humanist allows that a person has freedom of choice, self-determination and is responsible for his self-direction. Further, the Humanist's position -- free will -- bases on the belief that these free will attributes mature or "actuate" in an upward direction, that this progression of personal growth, and upon reaching an optimum level, result in maturity and positive self-awareness. In cognitive learning and development, the individual learns by listening, watching, touching, reading, or experiencing and then processing and remembering the information. Cognitive learning might seem to be passive learning, because there is no motor movement. However, the learner is quite active, in a cognitive way, in processing and remembering newly incoming information. Critical reflection is a process designed to promote the examination and interpretation of experience and the promotion of cognitive learning. It is "a process by which service-learners think critically about their experiences," of looking back on the implications of actions taken (good and bad), determining what has been gained, lost, or achieved, and connecting these conclusions to future actions and larger societal contexts. Through reflection students analyze concepts, evaluate experiences, and form opinions. Critical reflection provides students with the opportunity to examine and question their beliefs, opinions, and values. It involves observation, asking questions, and putting facts, ideas, and experiences together to derive new meaning. The progression from the initial humanist drive, to cognitive learning and development, ending with critical reflection most accurately demonstrates how adults learn best.
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