How adults learn: A Reflective essay

Sridevi Yerrabati


Theories on how adults learn such as andragogy (Knowles, 1980), transformational (Mezirow, 2000) and self-directed learning (Tough, 1971 and Cross, 1981) provide insight into how adult students learn and how instructors like me can be more responsive to the needs of my learners by use of effective teaching practices. While these theories suggest that adults use the experience as a means of learning, are self-directed, motivated and oriented towards learning, in my view, they are generic and are less culture and context specific.


Learning; culture; context; adult learning

Full Text:



Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cross, K. P. (1981) Adults as learners: Increasing participation and facilitating learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Davies, P. and Williams, J. (2001) ‘For me or not for me? Fragility and risk in mature student’s decision making.’ Higher Education Quarterly, 55(2), 185-203.

Davies, P., Osborne, M. and Williams, J. (2002) ‘For me or not for me? That is the question. A study of mature student’s decision-making and higher education.’ DfES Research Report 297, DfEE.

Knowles, M, S. (1975) Self-directed learning: A guide for learners and teachers. 18. N.Y: Cambridge Books.

Knowles, M. (1980) The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy versus pedagogy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Cambridge Adult Education.

Knowles, Malcolm, S. and Associates (1984) Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Knox, A. B. (1986) Helping adults learn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

MacKeracher, D. (2012) ‘The role of experience in transformational learning.’ In: Taylor E.W. and Cranton P. (eds.), The Handbook of transformative learning: Theory, research and practice, 342-354. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (1985) ‘A Critical theory of self-directed learning.’ New Directions for Continuing Education, 17-30.

Mezirow, J. and Associates (2000) ‘Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformation theory.’ In Mezirow, J. and Associates (2000) Learning as transformation.

critical perspectives on a theory in progress, 3-34. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2000) Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tennant, M. (1988) Psychology and adult learning. London: Routledge.

Tough, A. (1971) The adult’s learning projects. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.



  • There are currently no refbacks.