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Adult Learners


How Does the Adult Learn???

Cognitive science has learned a lot about how people learn, particularly adults. The teaching of adults, called androgogy, is different than the teaching of children and young adolescents, called pedagogy. However, members of higher education have been slow to truly use this information and change how we teach. An article that summarizes this information is one by Diane Halpern and Milton Hakel titled “Applying the Science of Learning to the University and Beyond, Teaching for Long-Tern Retention and Transfer.”

The point of the article is summarized in its sub-title, “Teaching for Long-Term Retention and Transfer.” The purpose of higher education should be TRANSFER of learning i.e. using the information and skills that we are exposed to in one class and USE them or TRANSFER them to another class or real world situation. How do we as teachers help make that transfer occur? How do help students RETAIN the information; how do we create “deep learning” rather than “surface learning”?

This is an interesting article because it provides a nice summary of 9 learning principles gathered from a survey of cognitive science teachers. In this particular article the authors acknowledge that these same cognitive science teachers admitted that few of them actually APPLY these theories to HOW they teach!!! So, the knowledgeable gurus or no different than the rest of us!! What we know about HOW people learn we rarely apply to TEACHING.



The website below includes the published article, but includes interactive demonstrations of these 9 principles so completing some of the demonstrations might be helpful.

Dianna Renz

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