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close this bookTeacher Training: a Training Guide (Peace Corps, 1986, 249 p.)
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close this folderSession 2 - Adult learning
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Session outline

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Objectives: By the end of the session, the participants will be able to:

- discuss the basic principles of andragogy.
- identify four different learning styles of adults.
- evaluate the implications of adult learning theory for the teacher trainer.

Materials: wall charts of the theory of andragogy, learning style inventory exercises, newsprint, markers, tape


20 min Croup Brainstorm The participants brainstorm and list on newsprint what they think the major differences are between teaching adults and children.

15 min Lecturette

A short talk contrasting the theories of andragogy and pedagogy.

15 min Discussion

In pairs, the participants relate the above theories to their own experiences.

30 min Learning Styles Exercise The participants complete Kolb’s learning styles exercise and discuss the results.

10 min Discussion The trainer leads a short reflection, relating the session’s material to the participants’ work.

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Overview: The Adult Learning session has two purposes: to introduce the participants to the basic theories of adult learning and to set the foundational context for the training program. Although the participants are all teacher trainers, during the next several days they will also be adult learners.

The first part of the session focuses on the basic principles of adult education as outlined by Malcolm Knowles in his book The Modern Practice of Adult Education. Often the teacher trainer finds him/herself in the ambiguous situation of training others to be pedagogues (teachers of children) while he/she is acting as an andragogue (a teacher of adults). Thus the initial brainstorming session is designed to help the participants clarify for themselves the differences between the two approaches. This is followed by a lecturette on the theory of andragogy.

The second half of the session emphasizes that regardless of how people are taught, individuals have different learning styles and an understanding of these different styles is crucial for the teacher trainer to be effective. The third activity of the session is therefore an exercise in which the participant learns not only his/her own learning style, but also those of the others in the group. The closing reflection highlights the importance of approaching teacher training from an adult learning perspective.

Objectives: By the end of the session, the participants will be able to:

- discuss the basic principles of andragogy.
- identify four different learning styles of adults.
- evaluate the implications of adult learning theory for the teacher trainer.

Session materials: wall charts of the theory of andragogy, learning style inventory exercises, newsprint, markers, tape

Training session


a. Group brainstorm 20 minutes

The group brainstorms the major differences between teaching children and teaching adults. Each participant writes down on a piece of paper two things to remember when teaching children. Then, going around the room, each person offers his/her suggestions as the trainer writes on a piece of newsprint. Next, the participants think about past training programs they have liked, and they write down two aspects of the program that made it successful for them (two ways they like to be taught). These are listed on another piece of newsprint. These charts are then moved to the side of the room.

Trainer’s notes: The participants know from their own experience how they like to be taught and how this is perhaps different from the way they might teach children; in other words the difference between andragogy and pedagogy. The intent of the brainstorm is for them to begin to name for themselves these differences so that the following theoretical section will ‘make more sense’ to them. If participants think that this is their first training program, remind them of their CREST in the States.

Materials: newsprint, markers, tape

b. Lecturette 15 minutes

The trainer gives a lecturette on the basic principles of andragogy based on A Trainer’s Guide to Andragogy by John Ingalls. As each point is completed, the trainer displays the wall chart which graphically illustrates that point.

What we have done la created two lists that highlight some of the basic differences between teaching children and teaching adults. The technical words to distinguish these are andragogy, a term that means adult learning, and pedagogy or child learning. Looking at our lists we can begin to see some of the differences between the two. Malcolm Knowles in his book The Modern Practice of Adult Education identifies four basic concepts that are central to adult learning. The first is self concept. Whereas the child is dependent upon those around hi-/her, the adult acts autonomously in relation to others. Adults are capable of being self directed, of being able to identify and articulate what they want to learn in dialogue with the teacher. In pedagogy, the teacher is in a directing relationship with the student; and in adult education the teacher is in a helping relationship with the student.

The second concept is experience. With children, education is often the one-way transfer of data and information from the teacher to the student. This is not always appropriate for the adult learner who brings a wealth of life experience and wisdom into the learning environment. In adult education, the teacher is more often a facilitator in a mutual learning environment. There is therefore a focus on experiential methods such as a-all group activities, role playing, peer presentations, etc. The dichotomy between teacher and student is replaced by a community of learners and teachers.

The third concept important for adult learning concerns the student’s readiness to learn. In traditions: pedagogy, the teacher decides what the students need to learn sad the curriculum is developed apart from the learner. In andragogy though, the learner takes a much more active role in deciding what will be taught and when. Adult education is more learner centered. As noted before, adults are often able to identify what the learning needs that arise from their social situation are. In adult education. it is important for the adult learner that the content of educational program is directly related to both their interests and life situations.

Lastly, there is a different orientation to learning for the adult. Children have been conditioned to have a subject-centered orientation to learning whereas adults tend to have a more problem centered orientation. The difference is one of tire perspective. Children tend to focus attention towards the future whereas adults are concerned with the present. Thus adult learners are interested in learning how to solve the problems that they are experiencing in their daily lives.

Trainer’s notes: The intent of the lecturette is to clearly and concisely introduce the concept of andragogy and contrast it with pedagogy. It is important that the participants are clear about the differences, for as teacher trainers they are teaching adults information that is meant to help them teach children. Use the wall chart to explain and expand the lecturette, referring back to the brainstorm list or drawing examples from the group.

Materials: wall charts contrasting andragogy and pedagogy, tape

c. Discussion 10 minutes

The participants now relate the above theory to their own experiences. Turn to the person next to you and spend the next ten minutes talking about why it is important for teacher trainers to have an understanding of these four basic aspects of adult learning.

Trainer’s notes: Let this be a ‘chatty’ time as people share stories with each other in pairs.

d. Learning styles exercise 30 minutes

The participants regather ant the trainer distributes the learning styles exercise. Each person individually completes the exercise and plots his/her results on the accompanying graph, using markers. When everyone has finished, all the charts (without names) are taped to the board in the front of the room. The group then discusses the results of the exercise.

- Here you surprised with the results of your chart? If so, why?
- What do you notice as you look at all the charts displayed up front?
- Why is it important for both trainers and learners to be aware of the diversity of learning styles?

Trainer’s notes: It is important for the trainer to emphasize that there are no wrong answers, or ‘good’ or ‘bad’ learning styles. No one style is inherently better than another. They are just different; and because they are different the trainer needs to be flexible in order to continually adjust his/her training style and activities to match the diverse learning styles of the trainees. If this exercise has already been used with the participants during the CREST or pre-service training, discuss here the four different learning styles outlined in session four (pages 34-35 of the Training Guide and page 70 of the Reference Manual.)

Materials: learning style exercise handouts (4 sheets; each), tape, markers

e. Closing Reflection 10 minutes

The trainer leads a short group discussion on the session.

- When you think back on your teacher training or teaching experiences. which points discussed this morning make the neat sense to you?
- What insights have you had into your own teaching or learning style?
- Hill your teaching be different in the future? How?

Trainer’s notes: This reflection is meant both to give feedback to the trainer on the two sessions, and to allow the participants to share their thoughts about what it means for them to be a teacher trainer.



Self Concept



There are nine sets of four words listed below. Rank order the words in each set by assigning a 4 to the word which best characterizes your learning style, a 3 to the word which next best characterizes your learning style, a 2 to the next most characteristic word, and a 1 to the word which is least characteristic of you as a reamer.

You may find it hard to choose the words that best characterize your learning style. Nevertheless, keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers-all the choices are equally acceptable. The aim of the inventory is to describe how you ream, not to evaluate your learning ability.

Be sure to assign a different rank number to each of the four words in each set; do not make ties.



The four columns of words above correspond to the four reaming style scales: CE, RO, AC, and AK. To compute your scale scores, write your rank numbers in the boxes below only for the designated items. For example, in the third column (AC), you would fill in the rank number-c you have assigned to items 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, ant 9. Compute your scale scores by adding the rank numbers for each set of boxes

Score items

LEARNING STYLE PROFILE Norms for the Learning Style Inventory

A high score on Concrete Experience represents a receptive, experience-based approach to learning that relies heavily on feeling-based judgments. High CE individuals tend to be e empathetic ant “people oriented.” They generally find theoretical approaches to be unhelpful and prefer to treat each situation as a unique case. They learn best from specific examples in which they can become involved. Individuals who emphasize Concrete Experience tend to be oriented more towards peers and less towards authority in their approach to learning and benefit most from feedback and discussion with fellow CE learners.

A high score on Abstract Conceptualization indicates an analytical, conceptual approach to learning that relies heavily on logical thinking and rational evaluation. High AC individuals tend to be oriented more towards things and symbols and less towards other people. They learn best in authority-directed. impersonal reaming situations that emphasize theory and systematic analysis. They arc frustrated by and benefit little from unstructured “discovery” reaming approaches like exercises and simulations.

A high score on Active Experimentation indicates an active, “doing” orientation to learning that relies heavily on experimentation. High AE individuals learn best when they can engage in such things as projects, homework, or small group discussions. They dislike passive learning situation such as lectures. These individuals tend to be extroverts.

A high score on Reflective Observation indicates a tentative, impartial and reflective approach to reaming. High RO individuals rely heavily on careful observation in making judgments, and prefer learning situations such as lectures that allow them to take the role of impartial objective observers. These individuals tend to be introverts.

SESSION 3 - Approaches to Teaching