Introduction to the Principles of Adult Learning

PROFESSOROne can probably write a book on the principles of adult learning and few people have time to read that much. Therefore, I will begin by just listing and briefly explaining them. I will discuss each principle separately in the weeks to come and you are invited to share your opinions, experiences and knowledge about the topic with us. Here they are.

  1. The totality principle. A holistic approach should be followed in learning and assessment.
  2. The individualisation principle. Every student learns at his or her own pace.
  3. The motivation principle. A learning atmosphere should inspire learners to learn.
  4. The perceptual principle. Learning should originate from how people perceive their environment and the impulses to which they are exposed.
  5. The objectivity principle. All learning activities should lead towards the achievement of one or more specific objectives or outcomes.
  6. The activity principle. Learning should as far as possible include doing things as well as participating in group activities.
  7. The development principle. Learning should lead to growth in the knowledge and skills of the learner.
  8. The communication principle. Communication should support meaning and facilitate understanding.
  9. Responsibility for learning. Adult students are responsible for their own learning.
  10. Authority relationship. The adult student will only accept authority if it is justified, mature and in his or her own interest.
  11. Time perspective. Learning should take place and be assessed at the most appropriate time for the interventions.
  12. Experiential background. Previous learning should be utilised to enhance current learning.

In closing, the application of the principles is largely dependent on the learning content and the context in which the learning takes place. Till next week, then.

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