One of the things that I learned in this class is that there are several factors that could potentially interfere with the adult learner’s quest for further education. These include: biological factors such as physical deterioration and memory loss, life experiences, work experiences, previous learning experiences, cognitive abilities, and the time since their last learning experience (Conlan, 2003). With all of these potential deterrents, the one thing the adult learner has in his / her favor is motivation (Conlan, 2003). The reason the adult learner seeks education is usually to further his / her education, or to allow for job change. This motivation is usually intrinsic in nature (motivated from within).
As I progressed through this course, I experienced my own setbacks ranging from illness of family members requiring my support to continuation of daily activities for my immediate family. Though this unforeseen incident could have been a deterrent, the motivation of the adult learner kicked in, and I was able to complete the course.
I found several aspects of the course particularly interesting. The first of these was the mindmapping exercise. I must admit that when I first started that project, I questioned its utility. As I progressed and added more nodes to the map, I started to visualize on paper what had only been in my head before. I know see mind-mapping as an excellent brainstorming tool – one that can be used to prevent / minimize writer’s block as assist in maintenance of a project’s focus. My mind-map is now posted on my desk and I will continue to refer to it and tweak it until my project is implemented.
I also found the information regarding the use of the ARCS (attention, relevance, confidence, satisfaction) model to be useful. I can see myself using that model as I continue to develop courses. Its usefulness ranges from prevention of attrition, to maintaining interest in the course.
This class has opened my eyes to the differing ways that people learn. Though common sense and observation told me that everyone’s learning style is different, I was not as keenly aware as I now am about the breadth and depth of these differences. I have also reclassified myself from being a strict cognitive learner to being one that has a little piece of each of the learning styles presented. I subscribe to Ormod’s viewpoint that teaching the student effective learning strategies is better than catering to their self-identified learning styles (Ormrod, n.d.) as the tools for self-identification of learning methods are subjective and the “ideal” learning method for the individual may change from tool to tool and even day to day based on the answers given.
I walk away from this course with a new favorite motto. It is now posted on my locker at work: “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” Confucius, circa 450 BC.
Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning
Ormrod, J. S. (2009). Learning Theories and Instruction. New York: Pearson.