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Adult Ed. Tipsheet

Adult Education in Practice

Highlights from the Research

Watch your step! Under Construction. Note: All pages with brown backgrounds are under major construction.
'We assimilate and gradually integrate behaviors, ideas, and values derived from others until they become so internalized that we define 'ourselves' in terms of them. Unless an external source places before us alternative ways of thinking, behaving, and living, we are comfortable with our familiar value systems, beliefs, and behaviors.'
Stephen D. Brookfield

These pages are the result of a continuing search for THE method for teaching adults. However, it should be obvious that there is no one method for teaching adults in all situations which addresses all the divergent learning styles, backgrounds, and needs of learners. In fact, some argue there is no method of teaching adults in general separate from that of teaching children. Others respond that our own life experiences argue against this assertion. So what is an educator to do?

The best choice is to be able to move as the situation dictates between a pedagogical approach in which the professor is master and an andragogical extreme where the student determines the curriculum. On these pages, briefly stated ideas will be presented and suggestions made for modifying various aspects of a course. These suggestions and ideas are stated briefly so that they may be quickly scanned. In case they sound intriguing and more information is desired, these suggestions are linked to a briefly annotated bibliography of the texts, research, and articles which support them. As educators, we cannot do it all but we can begin to incorporate change one idea at a time and make classrooms better places for adults to learn.

Note: Many of the references on these pages are located at the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education site. Since the address there has recently changed (to and I have not yet had the time to make the corresponding changes on these pages, some of the links are inoperative. Please pardon the mess.


References for this page only.

Combined reference list for all pages follows.

Brookfield, Stephen,Why Can't I Get this Right? Myths and Realities in Facilitating Adult Learning.Adult Learning: April 1992, P12-15.
Brookfield attempts to debunk several 'myths' including the one that teaching adults is different from teaching children.

Imel, Susan,Teaching Adults: Is it Different?, ERIC Clearinghouse: ERIC, 1995.(
In this article, Imel argues that there is no approach to teaching adults separate from that of teaching children.

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Last edited: 5/15/98
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Combined references for all pages.

Apps, Jerold W., The Adult Learner on Campus. Follet Publishing Co., Chicago, 1981.
Though some of the material may be dated, this book contains many useful examples of exemplary practices.

Belenky, Mary Field, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, Jill Mattuck, Tarule, Women's Ways of Knowing. Basic Books, New York, 1997.
This book, written in 1986 and recently re-released by a division of Harper Collins, is a classic on the silence of women.

Braidotti, Rosi, Ewa Charkiewicz, Sabine Hausler, Saskia Wieringa, Women, the Environment, and Sustainable Environment, Zed Books, London, 1994.
This book asks the reader to examine assumptions about the meaning of progress and development.

Brookfield, Stephen D.(1), Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 1986.

Brookfield, Stephen (2), Why Can't I Get this Right? Myths and Realities in Facilitating Adult Learning. Adult Learning: April 1992, P12-15.
As the title suggests, this article looks at some myths about adult education.

Carfagna, Rosemarie, A Developmental Core Curriculum for Adult Women Learners. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No.65, Spring 1995.
In this article, 'Women's Ways of Knowing' provides the theoretical framework for a core curriculum designed to meet the learning needs of women.

Collins, A., J. G. Greeno, and L. B. Resnick, Environments for Learning ?

Costa, Arthur, What Human Beings Do When They Behave Intelligently and How They Can Become More So. Paper presented by Arthur Costa, California State University, Sacramento.
The author lists characteristics and behaviors exhibited by intelligent people.

Cranton, Patricia, Professional Development as Transformative Learning, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1996.

Cross, Patricia, Adults as Learners, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1981.
This book is a relative 'oldie' but nonetheless a goodie.

Cruikshank, Donald R., Deborah L. Bainer, Kim K. Metcalf,, The Act of Teaching,, McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, 1995.

Dixon, Nancy M., The Organizational Learning Cycle: How We Can Learn Collectively.McGraw-Hill Book Co., London, 1994.

Draves, William A.,How to Teach Adults, The Learning Resources Network: Kansas 1984.
This easy to read how-to book is full of ideas and an excellent resource for anyone who teaches adults.

Droegkamp, Jan and Kathleen Taylor, Prior Learning Assessment, Critical Self-Reflection, and Reentry Women's Development. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No.65, Spring 1995.
Assessment of prior learning can be a powerful educational tool. This author tells how.

Edwards, Richard and Robin Usher, University Adult Education in the Postmodern Moment: Trends and Challenges. Adult Education Quarterly: Vol.47, No.1, 1996.
The authors discuss the postmodern viewpoint and its affect on education.

Gajdusek, Linda and Helen Gillotte, Teaching to the Developmental Needs of Nonmainstream Learners. New Directions For Adult and Continuing Education: No. 65, Spring 1995.

Galbraith, Michael W., Nine Principles of Good Facilitation. Adult Learning: April 1992, P10-.
The idea of 'load factors' along with several excellent tips for facilitating adult learning is discussed in this article.back

Gardner, Howard, Reinventing Our Schools: A Conversation with Howard Gardner on Assessment. Copyright 1995, AIT. Video Clip.
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has forced us to re-examine our assumptions about 'smart'.

Goulden, Nancy Rost and Charles J. G. Griffin, Comparison of University Faculty and Student Beliefs about the Meaning of Grades. Journal of Research and Development in Education: Vol. 31, No. 1, Fall 1997.
Research on the difference between student and faculty perception of grades is presented.

Grossi, F. Vio and D. Palma, Latin America: Adult Education. Unesco.
This article from UNESCO is a short one about the history of adult education in Latin America.

Havighurst, Robert, Human Development and Education, David McKay Company, New York, 1953.

Heath, Shirley Brice, Questioning at Home and at School: A Comparative Study. Waveland Press, Inc: Illinois, 1982.
This chapter is one of many interesting ones from the book Doing the Ethnography of Schooling, ed. by George Spindler.

hooks, bell, Talking Back, Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. South End Press, Boston, MA, 1989.
This reflective and thoughtful book tells the story of one woman's exploration of feminism and race.

Imel, Susan, Inclusive Adult Learning Environments.Digest No. 162, ERIC:, 1995.
This short article is well worth the read.

Imel, Susan, Race and Gender in Adult Education. ERIC:, 1995.
This article has an extensive list of print resources.

Johnson-Bailey, Juanita and Ronald M. Cervero, An Analysis of the Educational Narratives of Reentry Black Women. Adult Education Quarterly: Vol.46, No.3, Spring 1996.
This study examines the narratives of reentry Black women and the diversity of their experiences.

Kerka, Sandra, Adult Learner Retention Revisited. ERIC:, 1995.
This short but helpful article looks at both ABE and adult higher education.

Kerka, Sandra, Women, Human Development, and Learning.ERIC:, 1993.
This article constrasts the view that women's voices either do or do not differ from men's.

Knowles, Malcolm,Andragogy in Action,
Malcolm Knowles is considered by many to be the father of adult education theory and practice.

Knowles, Malcolm, The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy. Cambridge/Prentice Hall Regents, New Jersey, 1980.
The Draves book (above) draws heavily from this classic work.

Kuh, George D., C. Robert Pace, and Nick Vesper,The Development of Process Indicators to Extimate Student Gains Associated with Good Practices in Undergraduate Education. Research in Higher Education: Vol. 38, No. 4, 1997. This wonderful paper looks at process indicators for both male and female students.

LePage-Lees, Pamela,Exploring Patterns of Achievement and Intellectual Development Among Academically Successful Women from Disadvantaged Backgrounds. Journal of College Student Development: Vol. 38, No. 5, Sept/Oct. 1997.
The author recommends ways to foster high-acheiving in girls and women with disadvantaged backgrounds.

Marienau, Catherine, In Their Own Voices: Women Learning About Their Own Development. New Directions For Adult and Continuing Education: No. 65, Spring 1995.

Merriam, Sharan B. and Rosemary S. Caffarella,Learning in Adulthood. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1991.
This adult education handbook has a social conscience and is an excellent addition to an educator's library.

Mojab, Shahrzad, Minority Women at the Iron Borders of Academe. ERIC:, 27th Annual SCUTREA Conference Proceedings, 1997.
The author discussess her situatedness and personal experiences with adademe.

Ortiz, Flora Ida, Mexican American Women: Schooling, Work, and Family.ERIC:, Oct. 1995.
This report shows the interdendence of schooling, work, and family within the lives of Mexican American women.

Sheared, Vanessa, Giving Voice: An Inclusive Model of Instruction-A Womanist Perspective. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No.61, Spring 1994.
The author argues for incorporating an africentric feminist viewpoint of inclusion of the importance of culture and race into discussions of women's issues and provides ways to do this.

Shoenecker, Timothy S., Kathryn D. Martell, and Joseph F. MichlitschDivesity, Performance, and Satisfaction in Student Group Projects: An Empirical Study. Research in Higher Education: Vol. 38, No. 4, 1997.

Sitler, Helen Collins, The Spaced Lecture, College Teaching, Vol. 45, No. 3, Summer 1997.
This article describes a method for incorporating active learning into lectures.

Taylor, Kathleen and Catherine Marienau, Bridging Practice and Theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 65, Spring, 1995.

Taylor, Kathleen, Sitting Beside Herself: Self-Assessment and Women's Adult Development. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education: No. 65, Spring 1995.
The author discusses the advantages to the learner of engaging in self-assessment.

Tennant, Mark and Philip Pogson, Learning and Change in the Adult Years: A Developmental Perspective (Chapters 1-3). Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco,

Tice, Elizabeth T., Educating Adults: A Matter of Balance.Adult Learning, Vol.9, No. 1, Fall 1997.
This is a thoughtful article on acheiving balance between 'old' and 'new' ways of teaching adults.

Tough, A. M., The Adult's Learning Projects: A Fresh Approach to Theory and Practice in Adult Learning.Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, 1979.

Turoczy, Cheryl, Question Well to Teach Well. Adult Learning, Vol.8, #5 & 6, p.22.

Vella, Jane. Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults Jossey-Bass, Inc., San Francisco, 1994
This easy-to-read book on instructional design has a true international flavor and offers many excellent strategies for teaching non-traditional students.

Walden, Phyllis, Journal Writing: A Tool for Women Developing as Knowers. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education: No. 65, Spring 1995.
This article presents numerous ideas for effective journal writing.

Walker, Deborah and Linda Lambert, The Constructivist Leader: Chapter 1 - Learning and Leading Theory.
Constructivism and the relationship between learner and leader is discussed in this chapter.

Wright, John C., Susan Millar, Steve Kosciuk, Debra Penberthy, Does Active Learning Cause Credible Differences in Student Competence? Focus on Calculus: Issue No. 13, Fall 1997.
The authors look at the results of active Learning vs. lecture method in the hard sciences.

Zinn, Lorraine M.,Spirituality in Adult Education. Adult Learning: Vol. 8, #5 & 6, P.26.