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University of Wyoming

Contemporary Perspectives Impacting Adult Learning

Three major areas present themselves as contemporary perspectives impacting adult learning

Critical Theory

  • Strength--analyzing economic and social structures and the powers they are driven by
  • Weakness--suggesting workable strategies for effecting change
  • Welton identified several concepts from critical theory that affect adult education:
    1. knowledge, ideal conditions for reflective discourse;
    2. institutions as learning communities; and
    3. the interplay of the system with the real world


  • Modern World--scientific, industrial, institutional, artifacts generated by humanistic views vs.
    Postmodern era--diversity, power, authority, ethics
  • Criticized for pessimism, extreme relativism and lack of moral center
  • Provides adult education with respect for diversity; moving groups to be of equal value to others and a decontruction of categories within society (i.e. illiterate groups)

Feminist Pedagogy

  • Focusing on concerns of women in the teaching/learning transaction.
  • Women often seen in nonauthoritative roles=unequal power relations in society
  • Power disparity between the teacher and student
  • Educators need to carefully consider curriculuum, teaching strategies to challenge power relations based on gender, race and class