Make your own free website on
Adult Ed. Tipsheet

Adult Education in Practice
Learning Environment

'One can sense rather quickly on entering an institution whether it cares more about people or things, whether it is concerned about the feelings and welfare of individuals or herds them through like cattle, and whether it views adults as dependent personalities or self-directed human beings.'
Malcolm Knowles

The most important accommodation to be made for adults is accommodation in the physical environment. While research does not support the idea that adults' memory and intellect decline, it does show that adults experience a steady decrease in acuity of vision and hearing over time and should be accommodated (P.155-159, Cross). In addition, the social 'climate' becomes increasingly important to adults. Eliminating physical, social, and psychological load factors can facilitate learning.

Bibliography for this page.
Bibliography for the site.
Return to Adult Education in Practice Main Menu


Be aware of the lack of visual acuity which comes with age.



Acuity of hearing also diminishes over time.


Social Climate

Structured learning situations are often associated with previous, unsuccessful methods of education. Thus, it is best to try to make a learning experience involving adult learners as different as possible from elementary and secondary experiences. (P12, Draves) Some of the symbols perceived as childish to particular adults might be school buildings in general (in which case meeting outside the institution might be appropriate), podiums, rows of chairs, or chalkboards. (P47, Knowles) The following list of tips is geared toward improving the social climate.

Return to Adult Education in Practice Main Page.


Braidotti, Rosi, Ewa Charkiewicz, Sabine Hausler, Saskia Wieringa. (1994). Women, the Environment, and Sustainable Environment. London: Zed Books, London.

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

Cross, Patricia. (1981). Adults as Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
In Chapter 7 of her book, Ms. Cross reviews the research on adult ability to learn and concludes that until extreme old age is reached, adults retain their memory and ability to learn.

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

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

Hill, Alyson L.(with Lauren Scharff). (1997) Readability Of Websites With Various Foreground/Background Color Combinations, Font Types And Word Styles. [1998 February].

Imel, Susan (1995). Inclusive Adult Learning Environments. ERIC Clearinghouse,, Digest No. 162.
The other notes numerous issus in creating an inclusive environment for learning.

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

Spool, Jared M., Tara Scanlon, Will Schroeder, Carolyn Snyder, Terri DeAngelo. (1997). Web Site Usability. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.
If you are designing web pages and are concerned about readability, this book is a must-have.

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

Return to Beginning of Learning Environment Page.
Return to Adult Education in Practice Main Page.

Last edited: April 1999
Send comments and suggestions to Roberta S. Lacefield
These pages were edited using HTMLed shareware.