Adult learning differs from that of children, as adults approach learning with prior life experience and combine old knowledge with new knowledge. Adults are self-directed learners, as opposed to children who are adult-dependent learners. Children are like sponges, absorbing knowledge as it happens around them, they are not as motivated as adults, they don’t have a desire to know why they are learning, and they learn from direct instruction. For children, experience is something that happens to them, whereas for adult experience defines who they are. Adults need to know why they need to learn something, learn experientially, approach learning as problem solving, and learn best when the topic is of immediate value to them.
Adults have a wider range of life experience in contrast to children. They are internally motivated and self-directed, with set goals already in mind. Adults typically take on much of the learning process as the instructor is merely present for their support and direction only as needed. Adults have a variety of life experiences and prior knowledge from work, school, family, and community involvement.
Knowles, Holton, and Swanson (2005) show the four differen...
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...life. Children have a more narrow level of prior learning experience, however they learn faster than adults, and are better able to learn using memory skills. Adults have a variety of prior life experiences from work, school, and community to continue building knowledge upon the knowledge they hold. Adults and children learn best by experiencing an assortment of activities that stimulate the cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning areas, which include the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses. Visual in being able to see or watch a process to learn from it, auditory by listening and speaking, and kinesthetic by experiencing and doing through hands on learning. Finally, educators can improve educational practices by listening to students and fellow students to learn what they are understanding and not understanding (Boase, Parker, & Herrington, 2013, p. 129).
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