Reports and Articles: Adult Learning Theory
Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view PDF files. To download a free copy, please visit the Adobe web site.
The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development (5th Edition)
M. Knowles, 1998
Reviews the history and key principles of adult learning (androgogy) and its practical applications in adult education and the workplace. Also examines research findings on adult learning and how they may influence future practice. Available for purchase from
Adult Learning: An Overview
S. Brookfield, International Encyclopedia of Education, 1995
Critically examines the four major research areas unique to the adult learning processes: self-directed learning, critical reflection, experiential learning, and learning to learn.
Adults as Learners: Increasing Participation and Facilitating Learning
K. Cross, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1992
Explores adult learning theory and other underlying issues central to understanding the adult learner. Some of these include: how to recruit adult learners; why adults participate in education and training programs; understanding what motivates adult learners; how and what adults learn; and how to facilitate the learning of adults. Available for purchase from
Affecting Changes in Literacy Practice of Adult Learners: Impact of Two Dimensions of Instruction
V. Purcell-Gates, S. Degener, E. Jacobson and M. Soler, National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL), 2000
Examines the extent to which certain aspects of adult literacy programs' types of classroom activities/materials and level of collaboration between students and teachers affect learners' "literacy practice" outside the classroom. Provides snapshots of some of the adult learners participating in the study.
Download/view: PDF (396KB) | HTML
Balancing Act of Adult Life
S. Kerka, ERIC Digest No. 229, 2001
Examines the multiple roles and responsibilities of adult learners and reviews current literature. Analyzes effective approaches to instruction that help adults negotiate life?s challenges.
Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide, 2nd Edition
S. Merriam and R. Caffarella, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999
Provides an overview on adult learning, from curriculum and instruction to profiles of learners and theoretical developments. Focuses on social and cultural implications of adult education and how factors such as race, class, and gender can influence learning. Available for purchase from
Literacy for Life: Adult Learners, New Practices
H. Fingeret and C. Drennon, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1997
Five in-depth profiles of participants in an adult literacy program show how learning to read can change people's lives. Explains why adults experience change differently than children and adolescents and describes the role of the environment and the community in the change process. Available for purchase from
Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Adult Education
L. Shelton, Project Read, for the California State Library Foundation
An online starter kit for adult basic education practitioners interested in applying the theory of multiple intelligences to the classroom. Provides background information on multiple intelligences, strategies and tools for assessment, case studies, and other teaching tips.
NCSALL's Research Findings: Transformational Learning in Adulthood
K. Portnow, N. Popp, M. Broderick, E. Drago-Severson, and R. Kegan, Focus on Basics, National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL), December 1998
Distinguishes between informational learning (building on one's existing knowledge base) and transformational learning (increasing knowledge but also changing the way it is acquired). Authors posit that the shifts that occur in transformational learning enable adult learners to more effectively apply what they have learned. Includes a theoretical framework for how adults understand information that is linked to the EFF standards.
The New Update on Adult Learning Theory: New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education
S. Merriam, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2001
An update on recent developments in the field of adult learning, including context-based learning, self-directed learning, somatic learning, and narrative learning. Also presents new research on the influence of emotions, feelings, and imagination in the learning process. Available for purchase from
Providing Culturally Relevant Adult Education: Key Theme and Common Purposes
G. Talmadge, Ed., Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999
Authors who represent variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds offer theories on how learners construct meaning in different social and cultural contexts. Report identifies ways that adult educators can work more effectively with marginalized learners and explores how adult education can be an effective tool for empowering these learners. Available for purchase from
Rethinking Literacy Education: The Critical Need for Practice-Based Change
B.A. Quigley, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997
New approach to literacy encompasses a variety of work, family, and cultural considerations. Redefines the needs of low literacy learners for practitioners and provides several concrete alternatives for instruction. Available for purchase from
Teaching Adults ? Is It Different?
S. Kerka, ERIC Myths and Realities No. 21, 2002
A brief literature review that examines the differences between teaching adults and children. Specifically, looks at theories on andragogy versus pedagogy and teacher directed instruction versus learner centered.
Download/view: PDF (126KB) | HTML
Using Adult Learning Principles in Adult Basic and Literacy Education
S. Imel, ERIC Practice Application Brief, 1998
Outlines adult education principles and recommends how they can be applied to adult basic education and literacy instruction.
Download/view: PDF (124KB) | HTML