Best Practices for Teaching
Dr. Cheryl Torok Fleming
CCCU Inaugural Conference
Applying the Models
for Teaching Adult Learners
Malcolm Knowles: Concepts and
Characteristics of Adult Learners
• Deep need to know “why they need to
• Task-oriented in their learning.
• Wide range of background experiences.
• Deep need to be self-directed learners.
• Learn best when the learning directly applies
to life situation.
• Motivated by internal pressures: self-esteem
or quality of life
Mezirow and Brookfield:Self-
Directed Learning Model
• Learner consciously engages in acquisition or
refinement of knowledge, skills, or dispositions.
– coursework or degree programs,
– extensive reading on a particular topic
– seminars, lessons, lectures, or workshops
• Learner consciously changes thoughts,
viewpoints, opinions, or actions.
• Learner can describe or explain changes made
and the effect of these changes on one’s life.
Kolb: Experiential Learning Theory
• Participating in concrete experiences
• Observing and reflecting on the
• Forming abstract concepts
• Testing concepts in new situations
American Psychological Association:
Learner-Centered Principles of
• Context of Learning
– Construction of Knowledge, Thinking skills,
• Motivational and Affective Factors
– Emotional involvement, effort
• Developmental and Social Factors
• Individual Differences
Maslow: Hierarchy of Motivational
and Affective Needs
• Basic Needs: absence of threat, freedom
from hunger, sense of belonging
• Higher level needs: knowledge,
understanding, appreciation, self-
Mezirow: Transformative Learning
• Confrontation with a dilemma that is
incongruent to prior experiences and ideas
• Critical reflection process, re-examination
of ideas and values
• Results in the reformulation of perspective,
allowing a more inclusive, discriminating,
and integrative understanding of one’s
Dewey, Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, and
Gardner: Constructivist Learning Theory
• Emphasizes relationship between human
knowledge and social experience
• Based on shared inquiry
• Tie new ideas to previous life experiences,
• “Construct” and reorganize current
• Add meaning to newly acquired ideas and
What do these theories look like in action?
How can professors integrate faith, yet embrace
and exemplify these theories?
• Fleming, C., & Garner, B. (2009). A brief
guide to teaching adult learners. Marion,