After devoting 30 years to a career in K-12 education, both as a teacher and administrator, seven years ago I joined the ranks of higher education to teach adults. When I began teaching pre-service and in-service teachers, I assumed that good teaching was good teaching, whether my students were adults or children. I have learned from my experiences that I was only partially correct. Adult learners do have unique needs and perspectives that are quite distinct from young learners (Knowles, 1980).
The case described herein is the result of a class assignment in a course called Advanced Teaching Strategies, part of a Masters in Leadership and Administration program offered by Gonzaga University. My students engage in a "new learning" project as the first assignment in the course, designed to place these teachers in a learning situation out of their comfort zone with the intent of reminding them what their own students experience every day. Following their new learning efforts, these professional graduate students write a guided reflection about their new learning experience and present what they learned to their peers. Their reflections have taught me a great deal about the nuances of adult learners.
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Fein, Albert H.
"The Child Within: A Case Study of Adult Learning,"
Northwest Journal of Teacher Education: Vol. 6
, Article 10.