EPPL 714 Class Notes

Next week: We will develop a concept map related to learning; check Blackboard folder for resources

Began by getting thoughts on our intellectual journey for the past week:

  • Issues related to the reflection questions: tough to define learning, problems identifying better/new ways to learn
  • We each went around and shared what we had learned:
    • Idea of not learning in isolation: so rather than self-directed learning we are experiencing self-connected learning
    • Concerns about how to reflect on learning
    • Part of learning is unlearning
    • To what extent do principals of adult learning apply to younger students? What is an adult? Do younger people have the frame of reference needed to guide their own learning? Talked about Summerhill as humanistic education. And what about graduate school: does it count as adult learning? The volunteer aspect is taken away. So, perhaps the voluntary approach is the way to distinguish this type of education. To what extent do learners have control over the methodology and the content? In club settings, learners have much more control over the environment than if you are taking a certification class.

After the break: send Gene a final copy of your learning contract. He will send some sort of blessing.

The people who hadn’t been in class shared their contracts.

Chris T. talked about doing learning assessments. Taking those tests makes you psychologically patriotic (ie, you learn that your style is ok and you shouldn’t judge yourself negatively based on your results).

The premier journal is The Adult Education Quarterly. If you read the journal, it will give you some idea what the key themes and areas of research are right now. There aren’t many journals left in adult ed: there is a series published by Jossey-Bass on new directions in adult learning but they tend to be practitioner based rather than theory and research. A lot of the research is going on in other fields (ie, nursing, lawyers, social workers). Tend to be published in the research journals of those fields rather than in a specific adult learning journal.

Sharan Merriam’s update to adult education theory written in 2001: Merriam, S. B. (2001). The new update on adult learning theory. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

From this point on, the time is up to you…if you would like to fill the class time doing things. Gene isn’t going to try to fill the class up so he needs to hear from us next week as to how much time we need to be in class. Ben would like to come and do a class presentation. We’ll fill in a schedule for the next month or so. There will be at least one week when Gene will be gone.

What do we think about andragogy?

Is adult learning a theory or a set of assumptions? Brookfield’s biggest argument against these being a theory is that there are plenty of adult learners who aren’t self-directed or internal learners. Seems to be a variety of adult learning experiences that may have different levels of student commitment to the course.  When Brookfield looks at Knowles, he says it isn’t a theory because Brookfield uses theory as an empirically tested hypothesis and he also points out that we know lots of people who simply aren’t self-directed when it comes to classroom learning.  How valuable is this as a list of prescriptive assumptions for setting up your class if it isn’t really a valid theory?

Brookfield: self direction is a goal we should be trying to do, develop people who are more self directed.  It’s a worthy goal even though we know there are lots of people out there who aren’t.

One point is that there is no adult learner: you have whole human beings who have potential and experience that they bring to it and effective adult ed programs will understand that.  Within any group of adults you will have people who are doing it for a variety of reasons.  Gene uses andragogy as a way of putting a course together.  For Gene, it’s a philosophical kind of model. It’s flexible enough to be usable by a variety of educational organizations.  Gene just wanted us to understand that there are holes in adult learning ideas.


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