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University of Wyoming

Now that we have a context for adult learning in today's world, we need to take a closer look at who the adult learner is.

Dr. Michael Day | Required Articles | Discussion

Dr. Michael Day

adult educator


faculty member

University of Wyoming

Thoughts about adult learners.

  • The purpose of adult education is the "empowerment" of individuals;
  • The dignity of individuals should be enhanced by education not diminished;
  • Individuals initiate learning; educators only facilitate the process;
  • The intent for learning as well as the entire learning process must be owned by the individual
  • Individuals perceive and process experience and information in different ways; therefore, educators should utilize a variety of methods and techniques in their teaching;
  • Learning climate is of equal importance to learning tasks;
  • Learning episodes seem most meaningful when grounded in the experience of the learner and when there is a readiness to learn;
  • Integration, integration, integration; In the company of others individuals ultimately address learning as they live life -- alone;
  • Learning involves effort, responsibility, and consequences;
  • Learning in individuals seems motivated by two innate needs: survival and growth;
  • The environment, for better and for worse, molds both the behaviors and attitudes of individuals "throughout life," illustrating the power of education;
  • There seems to be a symbiotic (interdependent) relationship between attitudinal and behavioral change; and,
  • Teaching is a craft/skill that matures through effort, discipline, practice, and imagination.

Required Articles

Some helpful hints about adult learning can be found at

Please read this resource before going on with the unit.

Discussion Questions

Don't forget about your own experiences as an adult learner. Think about what works for you and what doesn't and how that relates to characteristics of adult learners.

In any discussion of adult learning, someone always asks, "Is there really any difference in an adult learner and a child or younger learner?" Most adult educators tend to suspect that while there are some obvious differences dealing with age and experience, there are many likenesses too.

Here are a couple of articles that may be of interest to you.
   Link 1
   Link 2
   Link 3
   Link 4

Some Characteristics of Learners, with Teaching Implications

Teaching Adults: Is It Different?

What do you think about the differences and similarities of adult and youth learners?

In summary, it is important to consider the context of adult learning and the characteristics of adult learners if we want to be effective adult educators.