Engaging Students as Adult Learners

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What is the impact of considering our postsecondary students to be adult learners? Since “research suggests there is an association between how faculty teach and how students learn” (Hughes & Mighty, 2010, p. 10), in this roundtable presentation and discussion we turn to the field of adult learning to explore how it can shape our teaching and contribute to meaningful student learning. In particular, we will discuss 2 central principles of adult learning. First, is the role of previous life experiences, which serve as critical ingredients for deep student learning (Merriam & Clark, 2006). Second, is the understanding that “learning is a personal process-but a process that is shaped by the context of adult life and the society in which one lives” (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 1). During this interactive roundtable we will turn to learning activities used in postsecondary classes as case examples of how assignments for students can be attentive to adult learning principles. Possible learning outcomes, one being nurturing a genuine interest in the subject matter (Lindblom-Ylanne, 2010), will also be discussed. In addition, participants of the session will be invited to deliberate on how they can integrate adult learning principles into their teaching. The roundtable session will increase your knowledge of adult learning principles that can shape course design and your understanding of the implications of conceiving the student as adult learner.