Constructivism _ Adult Learners

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					                                                         21697VIC Diploma of VET Practice
                                                     Constructivism and the Adult Learner

When applied to the adult learner; constructivism is synonymous with andragogy.
Andragogy is defined by Knowles (1970)i as the art and science of helping adults learn.

Andragogy; as discussed in the SIL International, Glossary of Literacy Termsii is based on
four crucial assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners that are different from
the assumptions about child learners. These are:

   As persons mature,
   o   Their self concept moves from being a dependent personality towards one of being
       a self directed human being
   o   They accumulate a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing
       resource for learning
   o   Their readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks
       of their social roles, and
   o   Their time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to
       immediacy of application.

These four crucial assumptions underpin the six commonly accepted Adult Learning
Principles identified by Knowles.

   1. Adults are internally motivated and self-directed
Adult learners resist learning when they feel others are imposing information, ideas or
actions on them (Fidishun, 2000).
Your role is to facilitate a learners' movement toward more self-directed and responsible
learning as well as to foster the learner’s internal motivation to learn.
   2. Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences
Adults like to be given opportunity to use their existing foundation of knowledge and
experiences gained from life experience, and apply it to their new learning experiences.
   3. Adults are goal oriented
Adult learners become ready to learn when "they experience a need to learn it in order to
cope more satisfyingly with real-life tasks or problems" (Knowles,1980 p 44, as cited in
Fidishun, 2000). Your role is to facilitate a learner's readiness for problem-based learning
and increase the learner’s awareness of the need for the knowledge or skill presented.

   4. Adults are relevancy oriented
Adult learners want to know the relevance of what they are learning to what they want to

TAADEL502A Facilitate Action Learning Projects – David McDonald
                                                          21697VIC Diploma of VET Practice
                                                       Constructivism and the Adult Learner

          5. Adults are practical
Through authentic learning environments, collaboration and interaction with real life
situations, adult learners move from classroom mode to hands-on problem solving where
they can recognise firsthand how what they are learning applies to life and the work
          6. Adult learners like to be respected
Respect can be demonstrated to your learner by:

          o    Taking interest
          o    Acknowledging the wealth of experiences that they bring to the learning
          o    Regarding the adult learner as a colleague who is equal in life experience
          o    Encouraging expression of ideas, reasoning and feedback at every opportunity.
Adapted from QOTFC ‘The Clinical Educator’s Resource Kit’ Part 3: Approaches to Clinical
Education – Adult Learning Theory and Principlesiii
Therefore the constructivism can be effectively applied to the adult learner by applying
the Adult Learning Principles to facilitation methodology.

Examples of current use:

      o       Presentations               o   Pre-reading activities      o    Role-plays
      o       Simulations                 o   Debates                     o    Group discussions
      o       Brainstorming               o   Web quests                  o    Simulation games
      o       Small group activities      o   Case studies                o    Critical incident
      o       Learner demonstrations      o   Interpretation & analysis

Examples for future use

          o    Group dynamic activities
          o    Communication activities

     Knowles, Malcolm S. 1970.The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy versus pedagogy.

      SIL International - accessed 02/04/2011

      Queensland Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Collaborative – Accessed 20/04/11

TAADEL502A Facilitate Action Learning Projects – David McDonald

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