Andrea Cebula
Educational Consultant At Adobe Systems

Week 1, Professional Development Design, Malcolm Knowles

Please watch the video from the Week 1, Professional Development Design section of the course. Reflect on the questions below and share your thoughts with your fellow course participants.

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

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stephanie dicken

Posted on 4/2/15 7:47:54 PM Permalink

I agree with the assumptions. Adult learners are learning for a reason, e.g. - job specific skills, etc.

steve kong

Posted on 3/16/15 5:25:57 PM Permalink

I agree with Knowles's assumptions and find it is valuable to incorporate that knowledge into PD sessions for educators. The biggest motivator and push to adult learning is the ever important, "Why." Without knowing or understanding why they are learning something or the use for it in their professional and personal lives, learning drastically loses its significance. Adults can not be told what to learn and forced because there needs to be an intrinsic reason for why they are taking the time to learn new skills.

Carolyn Daigre

Posted on 3/16/15 5:25:51 AM Permalink

Adult learners study to improve their performance in professional and social roles. While they may take courses for professional reasons they may be looking for solutions in their personal lives as well. Knowles research appears to be right on the mark. Application of these practices could be customized to each participants learning experiences. For example, if the participant identifies with a particular issue, a practice should be incorporated into the curriculum to address a solution.

Megan Deaton

Posted on 3/12/15 6:54:44 PM Permalink

I agree with Knowle's assumptions about adult learners. I've been teaching adults for a long time and the common ground is it has to have a point in there career or end goal to have any meaning. It doesn't matter what industry. It's true for both education and private sector. This is why when I hold my training sessions I always ask them to have a real project in mind when they come. I also invite them to have the project with them and maybe we can figure a way to enhance what they have.

Tanya Hopper

Posted on 3/12/15 8:18:20 AM Permalink

I fully agree with Knowles' assumptions about adult learners. I find this true in my own learning experience. If what I am learning has a valid place within my career, I am more likely to embrace the knowledge, and become an active participant, and not just a by stander. When we take ownership of our own learning, I think we gain a higher level of understanding and can put what we have learned to immediate use.

Andreas Freiberger

Posted on 3/10/15 8:34:40 AM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

I agree with knowles's assumptions. I think the assumptions that resonated most is "Need to Know", everyone is more engaged when they know why they are learning this content. adults have more experience, so they are able to imagine if the content is relevant to them. adults are more critical about the quality and will be able to give better feedback to the teacher/trainer, if there it is going in the wrong direction. It is not so easy to make a common content for adults, because they have more different skills, knowledge and needs (e.g. for work). My personal experience - as a trainer for creative software - with adults, is that they are more different BUT it is allways a great experience for me. Every course/lesson i learn new kinds of doing jobs, solving problems and different workflows. Since the last three years i work with younger people (k12), so i get more skills and different views...

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

For me it is very importent which skills, content the learner's need to know and waiting for. Starting a course means to know what and why they are waiting for the content. So the Trainer is able to offer relevant and practical knowledge and can perform their jobs better.

Lynne Tilley

Posted on 3/3/15 7:01:24 PM Permalink

I have spent time studying Knowles's assumptions of adult learners and I agree with his 6 assumptions. I not only studied these assumptions I have been an adult learner for my academic career. I try to incorporate these practices into all of my sessions, because I have seen first hand how they work for adult learners.

Eileen MacAvery

Posted on 3/2/15 5:17:53 PM Permalink

I agree with Knowles' assumptions and in my experience I take all of them into account and apply them in my teaching. Although watching this video helped to remind me how important it is to let adult learners know why they need to know what I am teaching them.

Paula Droddy

Posted on 2/26/15 8:10:29 PM Permalink

Glancing at the assumptions in the info-graphic before the video I was saying to myself "yep, these are the things that are often missing from professional development." The video gave me a more in depth understanding of myself and other adult learners. I like to learn new things: gardening, canning, fitness etc. I can learn those things because they appeal to my interests. But when learning is precipitated by something in your career, you approach it from such a different perspective. When I am conducting training to my fellow educators I am adept at Self-Directing and Relevancy-Oriented. I always start off by linking the learning to the tasks and situations we work through each day. I also allow time for hands-on activities and make sure everyone in the room knows I like to hear their suggestions and other info.

Eileen MacAvery

Posted on 3/2/15 5:19:33 PM Permalink

I agree with you and also think your method of hands-on activities is on target. I find adult learners sometimes more distracted then younger learners and they have less patience for sitting and listening.

Susan Mobley

Posted on 2/25/15 6:11:50 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

I agree with Knowle's assumptions for the most part. Everyone learns at a different level, but for the most part he correct.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

I agree

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

For my learner's I use the need to know why and offer relevant and practical knowledge so they can perform their jobs better.

B Greer

Posted on 2/25/15 6:58:45 AM Permalink

I honestly agree with Knowles assumptions. If the content/ topic is relevant to the audience, the audience will be active listeners and participants in maintaining the material being covered.


Posted on 2/23/15 5:17:13 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?The assumptions make a great deal of sense as they are explained to me

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?
I do to a degree, but as I listen to these assumptions and thing on what they say, it seems as if they don’t always take into account changes that occur in the timeline between implemented learning and potential changes.

My approach is to address the learning and the solutions it offers around the reference point of challenges and problems to solve that would be directly related to the area it would most like be used.

Eileen MacAvery

Posted on 3/2/15 5:20:34 PM Permalink

Your point is well taken, I think a blanket approach can be dangerous and addressing each situation is important.

Katie Morgan

Posted on 2/20/15 7:22:42 PM Permalink

I agree with Knowles assumptions about adult learners. I apply some of these principles, and I agree that you need to make learning relevant to the learners otherwise you lose their attention quickly.

roel ligterink

Posted on 2/20/15 9:44:11 AM Permalink

What is your first reaction to Knowles assumptions about adult learners?

Well defined.

Do you agree or disagree with the above principles?

Agree because it exactly reflects the core values that apply.

How can you learn to apply these best practices to your sessions?

By a first time this personally with the student one on one to fill.

dan aylesworth

Posted on 2/20/15 5:13:17 AM Permalink

The idea of relevancy makes me think that I have to be stronger in what I would like to learn more independently. It is very easy to fall into the "I have a mortgage" category and abandon attempts to learn as an adult.
I agree with the need to know theory of adult learning. I have had in the back of my mind the idea that I should know how to use graphic design software (paint shop pro, photoshop) for over 10 years. I have started a little bit on pain shop pro in the past. However, it wasn't until I got interested in making a puppet show that I realized I needed to learn more in order for me to create this puppet show so I found my way to this course.
I agree with the assumptions and listening to the video made me recall past difficulties in my teaching career when students felt that something was not immediately relevant that they would withdraw from learning quickly. I agree that it's important to make activities practical and applicable for everyday life but at the same time when teaching the letter A to a young child, do they look at you and say, "how is this relevant to my life?" And you're response would be, "just wait!" "You'll see!"

I think having entry bell ringers for students that ask them what they know already, what they expect to learn and having them complete and exit slip about what they learned can be a helpful best practice for a learning session.

Tiff Shaw

Posted on 2/19/15 4:22:40 PM Permalink

I think these assumptions work for any group, not just adult learners. I see these six traits daily in my high school classes.

I try to incorporate all of these into my sessions and classroom, but after having watched the video, I see areas where I could be more proactive and engaging. I will work on being more mindful of these assumptions and work to create better experiences for my audience.

Eileen MacAvery

Posted on 3/2/15 5:21:34 PM Permalink

I agree with you and was thinking the same thing as I watched the video - the millennials that I teach are very much motivated by relevancy and interested in why they need to know something.

Nancy Oliver

Posted on 2/17/15 2:08:54 AM Permalink

I agree with Knowles assumptions. It's a very reasonable to expect people to be motivated to learn when the material is relevant to them.

Ryan Archer

Posted on 2/16/15 10:43:19 PM Permalink

My first reaction to Knowles assumptions is that he is right on target! It certainly would make the process less challenging if the educator did have a prior knowledge and/or decent skill level with the technology tool. However, I believe it can be done if planned properly, acquiring a good set of resources and having a fun and explorative approach to the learning session. Encouraging much of peer based learning techniques.

I have been a big fan of the "Guide on the side" approach for many years now, especially in adult learning - I really believe it's the best way to go and a modern adaptive approach to educating.

Alan Humbert

Posted on 2/16/15 5:58:34 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

My initial reaction is that his approach is based in common sense. Adults have an idea of what they need to learn, for whatever reason (career, curiosity) and will apply themselves to learn it.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

I agree with the assumptions. Most adults will do what they are motivated to do. Making the material relevant to what they think they need, is likely to increase their self-motivation.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

I tend to orient my teaching to problem solving, what someone needs to know to get something concrete done. So, Problem-Centered seems to be my predminate strategy.

Suzanne Arnott

Posted on 2/12/15 11:25:47 AM Permalink

My initial reaction is that it is a logical approach... it reflected many of my personal observations, and put into words things I have seen done, both good and bad! I think most of these assumptions can be used for any learner, regardless of age... it may be surprising just how much some of our young people do know... and we need to not dismiss this either.

I would like to think I apply them all, but probably need to refresh my approach across the board to create improved learning opportunities. I believe I have been able to present aspects of digital learning as exciting and engaging. Shown them how they can help improve their time management, connections with students, create a more engaging 21stC approach. Relevancy oriented: To try and find out a bit about the target audience... whether they teach a specific area or year level.

Sandra H

Posted on 2/11/15 7:33:08 PM Permalink

I think assumptions are just that, assumptions! I have seen people go to workshops lasting weeks with no motivations at all except that the boss said they will, and so they did. I think the "Need to know" is a very basic to all learning, adult or child. Children also like their learning to be relevant. I use most of these practices no matter the audience because they just make sense, to base the instruction on prior experience or knowledge, tell your audience why they need to know, make it relevant, include an activity with a problem to solve, and pay attention to motivational factors in the overall design of the instruction.

Ed Bonhaus

Posted on 2/10/15 2:03:13 PM Permalink

I like Knowles assumptions of adult learners, although I believe this applies to all learners. The hard part about professional development for me are some of the mandated programs I have to train on where I can't gather input and involve learners in the planning, especially when the program isn't very good (not talking about Adobe). I've naturally been using all 6 of the assumptions since I started leading professional development 6 years ago.

James Adkins

Posted on 2/8/15 8:38:12 AM Permalink

Very accurate. I teach adult education, so I experience this day on and day out. Making learning relevant plays into the majority of the other assumptions. If an adult does not find it relevant, then they won't invest or even attempt to complete it. It's almost existentialism in most cases.

I agree with the self learning, for adults want to be in control, wether they need assistance with an assignment or not. The concept of lifelong learning is a had value to instill in some adults, however after brief amount a time it is usually achievable.

In our PD session, we practice the majority of these, especially making it relevant to educators that they can actually use the material, knowledge, and skills in the classroom right away, and try to avoid the idea of "this could be." We like ready to start results, which allow teachers to make it relevant right away and self directed in their classrooms.

Luke Sequeira

Posted on 2/7/15 9:05:24 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

Spot on. Specifically regarding relevancy. Adults need to see the immediate need and be self directed because only the learner knows how to best direct their learning.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

I agree to an extent with the self directed learning and adults being in control of their own learning however I have also encountered educators who are sort of mired in this complacency and are just going through the motions...Granted this is not the norm but it always amazes me how quickly a classroom full of teachers can echo the same complaints they have about their own students when in an educational or PD setting.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

I think @ AYVChicago we try to make everything as relevant and practical for the teachers to increase the level of reception. Doing everything we can to break off a piece of information that can immediately be introduced into the classroom.

Jenifer Pickens

Posted on 2/5/15 7:44:45 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

It is a shame that most professional development does not follow this information.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

I am in agreement, as this is in line with my experiences.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

I tailor my lessons to the needs of my learner, by focusing the information before starting a session, and changing up if the needs do not meet my preparations.

Charlene Turman

Posted on 2/5/15 7:17:18 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

I agree that adult learners need to have some input into the planning or presentation of information.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

In this instance, with technology training, it might be hard for learners to understand their needs of a certain program or app you are presenting on. They might not understand how to use the program, so input would be minimal.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

When presenting on brand new technology, I always let people know I will personally follow up with them in their classroom settings to answer questions or help with implementation. That helps them relax during training and attempt to understand the info instead of stressing about implementing.

Ramon Villa

Posted on 2/5/15 6:17:33 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

Adult learners do have a different understanding on how learning works.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

I agree.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

I start off with collaboration so I can gauge where the student is at amongst a small group.

Basim Assaf

Posted on 2/5/15 3:32:23 AM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

My first reaction is to agree with the theory because Adults learning is different due to their maturity and experience and outlook to life.

I agree with most assumptions, but this is a theory that should be subjected to scrutiny in order to find if experimental evidence supports it. In addition, the theory does not include some important factors that may influence the adult learning process, such as ethnic and cultural factors.

I agree that adults can take control and responsibility of their learning. Their experience can be very valuable to their learning and the direction they take. Most adults also like to learn something they can apply. I also think that when most adults go to school, they are already motivated.

In general, this is a good theory that can be applied to adult learning.

I would start by finding out the background experience and education of the participants, and what they are interested in learning and why, in order to modify the objectives of the course to include their needs and interests.

Encourage collaboration and explain the reasons for teaching specific skills, when possible.

I would use hands on approach because adults learn by doing, and emphasize applications that they can use immediately.

Najet Batnini

Posted on 2/4/15 3:17:05 PM Permalink

I do agree with the assumptions and find them helpful. Adults need a lot of motivation in order to learn and need to keep up to date on what they are learning and there is also a kind of sense of victory whenever something new is learned and applied to projects.

Randy Rawlins

Posted on 2/4/15 3:09:37 AM Permalink

Knowles assumptions are a good model to follow for trainers of all experience levels. As a speaker, my progression through material while training follows Knowles’s assumptions. However, the self-directing assumption is one that gets overlooked sometimes. Letting the learner take responsibility and ownership of newly acquired knowledge and having them self-direct is key to making the training session have some value outside of the training engagement.

Laura Poveromo

Posted on 2/4/15 12:17:17 AM Permalink

Knowles's assumptions make sense. One that I have a concern about is self-directing, especially for technology. Participants who are not computer literate could struggle. Relevancy oriented is highly important to have in a P.D. since it allows participants to see exactly how the strategies they are learning can be used in educating students. I mostly use need to know and relevancy oriented.

Suzy Linstrom

Posted on 2/3/15 9:29:22 PM Permalink

My inital reaction when watching the video was that I could agree with each of the assumptions presented; however, I don't believe that they should be limited to "an adult learner." Adults and students alike will want to know about the relevancy and benefits, otherwise the learning could be viewed as a waste of time. Collectivity, knowledge and experience is indeed a good resource that can enhance any PD session but only if it is pertains to the subject at hand. My mantra is to "work smarter not harder" and I pop-in to follow up and check on progress.

Petra Perz

Posted on 2/3/15 5:15:53 PM Permalink

My initial reaction to Knowles's assumptions is one of partial agreement. The one about the need of self-direction in adults learning is quite tricky. There are new fields where the learner not only wants but needs to have a guide, a leader who will make them feel sure about what they are learning until they can gain some independence. For me, there is a certain span in the process of teaching/learning in which the learner needs to be really dependent on the teacher to gain a later independence. Many peers' comments spin around that idea, that the teacher's assuming certain knowledge from the students is not good at all.

The other one is the one about lifetime experience, which is a two way street we should be careful about: connections are excellent but sometimes we make wrong connections and some others experience is too heavy and we need to drop ballast to go on up and up. This is even more relevant nowadays we need to get rid of traditional teaching methods seeing how technology advances at a speed difficult to catch up with.

Carlos Anjos

Posted on 2/3/15 3:14:15 PM Permalink

I'm surprised to meet so clear points that motivates adults and find it very interesting to know the reasons that adults learn . I agree with everything that is placed on the slide show, I believe many points left to be discussed , but obviously revolves around these issues.

Find out what the needs of each student and learn how to be working these difficulties is the best solution in my opinion trims help each one to put into practice all your doubts .

udesh naidoo

Posted on 2/2/15 9:26:16 AM Permalink

Since this is my first introduction to Knowles' Assumptions about adult learners, my initial reaction was to question why his theory is classified as an assumption. During the presentation I understood that there are exceptions to Knowles' Assumptions and that there can be other factors that contribute or hinder adult learning, or that the order of the assumptions can be different in value for some adult learners.

I found I can immediately agree with all six. The presentation helped me understand how Knowles views the assumptions and its relevance to adult learners.

I currently apply Knowles' Assumptions 1,2,3, and 6.

Samantha Spencer

Posted on 2/2/15 6:47:52 AM Permalink

The slide show and lecture style of this video was not ideal and made the information challenging to take in. (Not a great technique for my particular style of learning).

I think the assumptions are important to understand and are a good guideline for developing material for adult learners.

I try to provide a space where people can actively learn, through problem-based activities.

John Bimmerle

Posted on 2/2/15 12:04:39 AM Permalink

I agree with each of Knowles assumptions. While different types of learning opportunities impact the level of the assumptions need, in my experience working with teachers and training, a strong argument could be made for the first 5 for sure.

Teachers tend to look at staff development as a waste of time. Often times I believe this is due to a lack of addressing these assumptions and especially the one about giving them the chance to have input. Teachers are often isolated in a classroom where they direct all learning. This makes it tough for them when they are told to attend a meeting and GET information handed to them that they have no real reason why it is important. I have found when teachers have a chance to hear the background to what is happening and have had a voice in creating the key takeaways for the training, they are much more eager to buy into what is happening.

I try to include teacher input by sending out a survey with questions about what they are doing in their own classrooms and the questions are set up so I can best learn how to address their needs with whatever tech concepts we can cover in that time period. I have found this to be effective in being able to relate to what they are doing currently and then using that to generate connections with Knowles assumptions.

sofia katsikadi

Posted on 2/1/15 11:05:59 PM Permalink

The assumptions were really helpful and I agree with them. Also I would like to add that I saw many adult learners to need some motivation and talking about that it is a good thing, that they go on learning courses. They need to know that it is better to go on courses and learn new things than to don't, because I see a lack of self-believing when they begin to learn something new that they didn't know like tips in Adobe Software.

Andrea Marz

Posted on 2/1/15 3:00:40 PM Permalink

kiesha poole

Posted on 2/1/15 3:40:57 AM Permalink

My initial reaction is that Knowles is spot on with his assumptions. Especially when it comes to relevancy, If a teacher can not see how this applies to them the side conversations begin. If a teacher is engaged in the process and can leave with an end product they are more likely to actively participate. Especially if there is accountability; for instance a book they will have to discuss at the workshop. I definitely agree with the assumptions, even for people who seek learning opportunities they choose according to these principles' what will be my takeaway when I am done, they choose classes with the purpose of how will this benefit me. When I discuss professional developments with colleagues I usually hit how this can be applied to their classroom, along with how much time they will need to commit to implement, and what is the pay off.

Christina Steel

Posted on 2/1/15 2:22:56 AM Permalink

Some of these assumptions are valid, but not necessarily all. I think that people are on a spectrum for these. For example, some people learn just because it's something to learn--they don't have to have a need for that knowledge. Others may rely more or less heavily on intrinsic/extrinsic motivators. It's not always practical to assess what individuals or groups are bringing in terms of their knowledge and life experience--look at MOOCs! I have no real say in what activities are presented for this course and it's not the best match for my needs at this time, but I'm going to do it anyway because I understand that it may be valuable down the road. However, students definitely respond better when you can tell them WHY something they are learning is relevant; how it has impacted you in your life/career, what types of situations they might encounter where that training/class may be useful.

Randolph Lavery

Posted on 1/31/15 9:59:57 PM Permalink

His assumptions makes sense to me.

I do agree with the assumptions that are made. They seem pretty straightforward and sensible and have found them to be true in the sessions that I attend.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How? I have only done one professional development and without really thinking about it included most of the strategies included.

T King

Posted on 1/31/15 4:25:33 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners? Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions? I agree with his 6 assumptions.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How? I definitely acknowledge that my audience comes in with their own knowledge and have something to contribute to the learning. I ask questions I ask about themselves and when relevant I ask them to contribute their thoughts or experience to the group. I do not present myself as the only "expert" in the room.

Michelle Pacey

Posted on 1/31/15 10:53:51 AM Permalink

This main messages in this video echoed my answers to the previous discussion about my effective and non-effective learning experiences. I agree with all of the concepts, but I'm mindful that I have very little experience in delivering 'classes' to adults. I found Catherine Stephensen's answers (as part of this thread) illuminating - from someone who has experience.

Patrick Hourigan

Posted on 1/30/15 6:44:52 PM Permalink

My initial reactions: I agree that I have a need to know why I should learn something, though I can't make that same assumption for anyone else. I tend to pick up what I need, in terms of skill development, but only if I have a need for it. I don't agree that adults have a need to be self-directing. Many people with whom I work just want to be shown what to do in as few steps as possible. I agree that adults have a greater volume and different quality of learning than youth, but that's not always a positive thing. That experience can get in the way and act as a barrier against trying something new, or in a new way. If that experience can be tapped in a positive way, then that's good. Relevancy-Oriented is pretty much the same as the Need to Know. And I definitely agree that adults enter learning experiences with a task-centered orientation - they'll claim there's not enough time in a day to waste time on unfocused tasks.

I try to tap into all of these for my PD sessions. I always ask what topics would be most helpful, and I ask people to come in with a goal that the PD will help them accomplish. Sometimes it's just a very simple goal, but it should be something that can act as a milestone so the person doesn't feel like they wasted time.

Nikki Hensley

Posted on 1/30/15 4:58:12 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

Sounds very reasonable and makes sense.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

I agree I would have to add I think that all learners regardless of age most likely want to know why they are learning something, add input and make it relevant to their lives.

Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

For teaching the students I do try to make it relevant to them or at least explain why we are doing something what is it trying to accomplish by doing this task.

Judith Wood

Posted on 1/30/15 3:49:49 PM Permalink

I think Knowles assumptions are bang on. As an adult learner I can relate to all of these assumptions, but as a teacher of young adults preparing for their work life, relevancy is critical. They don't want to be wasting their time, money and resources. I develop my classes based on a combination of student feedback and interest, industry relevance and fundamental theory. I've attended classes where I didn't have any input in the content. I find it acceptable if it is a new area of interest and I have limited knowledge. I've been in classes that attendees' experiences would be have added value but it was not welcome. People quickly disengaged.

Encouragement and constructive criticism nurtures growth and development.

Richard Stejer

Posted on 2/1/15 8:54:45 AM Permalink

Similarly to Judith, I teach adults in mid-career for 'bigger' management roles. The professional associations, for example project management and financial planning, require course designs to be relevant and problem-centered before I an authorized to teach the course.

Neisha Leacock

Posted on 1/29/15 2:20:00 PM Permalink

"Why aren't more trainers aware of these assumptions and actually utilize them in the training sessions?" That was my initial reaction...I agree with all Knowle's assumptions as they are practical and they make sense. I think of my "sessions" as just in time, when my clients have problems (problem-centered) they need to resolve, I supply them with job aids that provide the information they need to know to solve the problem (need to know and relevancy), and in the job aids, I specify why certain steps need to be taken and implications of not doing so. I do provide some level of motivators as well. For instance, I might say they will be better able to handle future situations once they follow the aid.

Catherine Stephensen

Posted on 1/29/15 4:42:41 AM Permalink

I've been designing learning based on Knowles assumptions for 20 years. I find that there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Adult Learners usually already know why they need to learn something (at least in vocational education this tends to be so) and spending too much time on reiterating why they need to know can be a detractor.

2. Self - direction is good as long as it's judiciously applied.

3. Not only do adults bring a lifetime of experience into a classroom, they also bring whatever their current emotional state is, into the classroom. If this is combined with erroneous 'lifetime beliefs' it can be difficult to manage. It is often a good idea to start the class with a mental clearing exercise and an exercise to ensure everyone is on the same page with basic principles.

4. Relevancy is King!

5. Problem based learning is a technique that is extremely useful to generate collaboration and creativity.

6. Beauty in visual design can be a great intrinsic motivator. thank heavens for Adobe tools :-)

Richard Stejer

Posted on 2/1/15 8:57:32 AM Permalink

I think adult learners want a degree of self-direction in vocational education - as long as they are assured that their complies with company policy, procedure or methodology. There I think is where the 'need to know' something overrides the desire for 'self-direction'.

Laura Vogel

Posted on 1/28/15 7:40:39 PM Permalink

What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners? For the first two my initial reaction was, "students do the same thing" but obviously not in as complex of ways as an adult would. But kids are always asking "why?" or "why do I need to know this, when will I ever use this in my real life?" so I think they are similar to adults in that sense. Overall, my initial reaction, just having interacted with adult learners for so long now, is that these were fairly 'obvious' or typical of what you'd think of in a PD setting. I found the last two to be very true and interesting.

Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions? I agree with most of the 6 assumptions but as I noted, the first two and also the last one are not exclusive to adults.

How can you apply these best practices to your learning sessions? I made some notes to remind myself and my team that we need to reinforce why we are teaching certain things, which fulfills the need to know. Remembering that adult learners will disengage if there are parts of the PD in which they don't have enough opportunity for input or collaboration. I like the idea of reinforcing the adult learner as a great resource and expressing that their knowledge and experiences are valued. And lastly, the idea of motivating factors as interesting and I do think there is some element of incentive needed in all learning.

Hubert Simon

Posted on 1/28/15 3:57:26 PM Permalink

I am in total agreement with the information from the video. I have done many workshops and after the first few I started to select those that would be beneficial to my profession or my personal life. I got more out of the that are tailored to my needs as a classroom teacher and artist.

For example this workshop benefits my professional desires as well as giving me more information for my life as an artist.

Cynthia Manrrique

Posted on 1/28/15 3:52:26 AM Permalink

    What is your initial reaction to Knowles’ assumptions about adult learners?

  • I was able to cover this topic in one of my masters' courses and it got me to think seriously on how to present topics to an adult learner. On attending in-services myself a constant question that comes up around me is "Why do I have to be here." If the topic is not relevant to a learner, learning will not take place. Many learners are only in attendance because they have to "complete their hours" for credit. This is very sad because there is so much to learn with technology if only the learner would give it a chance. By being aware of Knowles' assumptions, I think a trainer could take control of the outcome for their learners.

  • Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions? TOTALLY AGREE!!

  • How can you apply these best practices to your learning sessions? By being aware of these assumptions and preparing lessons according to the needs of the learners, I believe that learning sessions would be more productive. Prepare for the learner and their specific needs and expectations.

  • Richard Stejer

    Posted on 2/1/15 9:02:18 AM Permalink

    A professor of adult education commented a long time ago how to manage the adult learner who questions the relevancy of a course or a discussion. He would sincerely and respectfully ask them two questions. First,he would ask them to fully explain how to improve the relevancy (not dwelling on their likes/dislikes). He would listen. Then without commenting, he would simply ask, 'tell me why others might disagree with you'. His is a very powerful way to get adults to reflect after they react, which made everyone more conscientious and constructive in their discussions.

    Helen Castanedo

    Posted on 1/28/15 3:43:50 AM Permalink

    What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

    Most of this seems pretty obvious. Although most Professional learning I have attended failed to address all of these assumptions.

    Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

    Most agree. Although the one on motivation I question as I know that often I am motivated by the very notion of learning for learning sakes rather than external motivations.

    Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

    I always try to make my sessions as relevant and practical as I can. I also think its important to remember to differentiate for adults learners as they have different experiences and knowledge to bring.

    Dorothy Yu

    Posted on 1/28/15 2:46:46 AM Permalink

    I am aware of Knowles' assumptions and I incorporate these in my teaching practice.

    I totally agree with all the assumptions and personally I believe relevancy and the need to know come hand in hand. I do lose focus if I feel that the information is irrelevant.

    Stephen Michaele

    Posted on 1/28/15 12:44:30 AM Permalink

    I've studied Knowles' assumptions before and can say that, as an adult learner, they perfectly match my expectations of learning. So my initial reaction is very positive. In the previous discussion where we were asked to describe our most rewarding educational experience I recounted my experience in graduate school. It was most rewarding to me because it incorporated strategies built around all of the assumptions. I firmly agree with each of the assumptions and attempt to address them in my learning sessions particularly by making the material very relevant, the exercises problem-based, and asking specifically for the input and sharing of life experiences by the participants.


    Posted on 1/27/15 11:26:00 PM Permalink

    Knowles's assumptions regarding adult learners cover most reasons and approaches to why and how the adult want to be taught. As an adult learner myself I find value on every assumption because they reflect what I expect from a class.

    For me it is very important to establish the value and importance of any course. You should provide tools that allows students to be responsible for their own knowledge, give them opportunity to lead and create connections between previous experiences and new knowledge. Empowering a student will motivate them to put their best effort into trying to solve real life problems that may affect their reality.

    Terrell Neuage

    Posted on 1/27/15 10:13:35 PM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      1. need to know – there is too much to do in a day to waste one's time with anything not relevant

      2. self directing – going at ones pace gives a stronger learning experience – too push ahead before the person is ready is to lose them

      3. lifetime of experience – the creativity of an adult is based on their lifetime of experience

      4. relevancy oriented – don't waste time or give information that is not necessary

      5. problem centred – I do not agree this is always necessary – learning can also be for enjoyment such as creating a film and it does not need to be problem centred. This is so overused – we do not need to go through life with everything being a problem needing to be fixed – this comes from a person not having enough experience in life to let go and be stress free and just to enjoy the experience of learning without there have to be an end result.

      6. intrinsic and extrinsic motivators – mumble jumble – enjoy learning for the sake of learning – evolved adults are able to do this.

      As one who did his whole higher education after the age of 44 (I had a 10th grade 'formal' education prior) from a BA to an Honours, Masters, PhD and teacher's degree primarily as distant education whilst being a single parent and working over a 20 year intense period between 1990 and 2010 I have really never known anything except as an adult learner. I had to be self directed and only address what I needed to know in order to fit education into my life style during a time when I lived and taught in three countries, raised children and lived in some fifteen places.

      Having done this I totally agree.

      The most important aspect of an adult learner is to respect their knowledge. Letting the adult learner apply their current knowledge to the learning session is first.

      Aaron Metz

      Posted on 1/27/15 1:26:25 PM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      I am already familiar with the work of Knowles’s and heavily cited his book ‘Adult Learners: The Neglected Species’ in my Masters research. He is widely considered to be the father of ‘Adult Learning’ and it’s great to see that is work is being reference in this course.

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

      I strongly agree and have based a lot of my career in teacher development on these assumptions.

      How can you apply these best practices to your learning sessions?

      Using the GoogleApps suite of tools is very easy to get participants actively involved in the learning process and foster some self-directedness.


      Posted on 1/27/15 10:54:55 AM Permalink

      I'm in agreement with these ideas but I have to provide some constructive criticism regarding the presentation itself.

      One of my issues with video presentations that are not marked with chapters is the inability of the learner to move at a pace that suits their needs. Knowles would call this his principle of Self Directed Learning and it especially applies where eLearning is involved. While I appreciate the information that was presented in this video as a self directed learner I almost immediately started scrubbing forward to get to the next point. It's one of the reasons I prefer Adobe Presenter for these kinds of presentations. With built-in navigation it makes it much easier for an adult learner--who has plenty of prior experience--to move forward and back.

      Deborah Lloyd

      Posted on 1/27/15 5:19:24 AM Permalink

      I am familiar with these adult learning principles and agree with them. I find the most effective practice is problem solving asmany of the other assumptions can be applied by the adult learner if the problem being addressed is well planned e.g. self-directing, experience, relevance, intrinsic/extrinsic motivators.

      Sam Bizri

      Posted on 1/27/15 3:37:38 AM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      excellent summary. I liked the clip and the information presented and made me think, hey I already a lot of this stuff

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

      totally agree. Will be using the table as a check list for my next course

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

      problem-centred. This is the best way my students learn.

      Valerie Agramonte

      Posted on 1/26/15 11:54:05 PM Permalink

      Having never seen Knowles's assumptions about adult learners, I was thrilled and excited after watching the presentation.

      Not only do I agree with these assumptions, I found myself wondering why none of these principals seemingly are ever applied to professional development in my school district.

      The best way to put these practices into place is by putting yourself in the learner's shoes. As a receiver of the information, how would you want it to be presented to you? What would it take to make it relevant and meaningful?

      Yevhen Plotnikov

      Posted on 1/26/15 10:22:43 PM Permalink

      It's difficult to disagree with the assumptions. However, there are sometimes different learning situations and different adult learners.

      Halle Cisco

      Posted on 1/26/15 9:18:05 PM Permalink

      I reviewed these in the Train the Trainer workshop and found them to be a helpful framework. I agree that having an outline as a way to build a class is important. It helps learners understand the direction and expectations of a class. I apply the Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators and continually try to incorporate the Need to Know.

      Anita Thiernian

      Posted on 1/26/15 8:19:06 PM Permalink

      The Need to Know relates very much to relevancy. Why am I doing this? Why am I giving time for this? I can see where the idea of self direction might be important, however, the type of training I provide has little opportunity for engaging learners during the planning process. The exception, of course, is if I am developing training for a department based on a specific request. Those workshops where participants share experiences and ideas with each other are usually the best ones. Encouraging the conversation provides more opportunity for everyone to solve problems as well as make things more relevant to their own experiences. Relevancy is extremely important. We assign much more value to the topic if we find it relevant to what we do and/or something we are personally interested in. Context is always helpful. We want to know what need we’re addressing or what problem we’re tying to solve. I don’t think we rule out information for information’s sake, but there still needs to be some sense of value. The question we ask is, Is this a good resource to hang on to? Do I think it’s possible I will want or need this information in the future? This is definitely an area I try to address when stating the goals for most of the workshops I develop. The idea of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators makes some sense overall, but I don’t see it applying as stated in all situations. If you are in an environment that supports merit-based increases or promotions that’s great, but not all organizations do that. In the environment where I work, people mostly participate in training to be able to use tools required to do their job (not because they are looking for more responsibility) or because they are interested in “what’s out there” in terms of technology. Still, I find I frequently revisit existing workshop descriptions to see if I can tweak the wording so that I can, as concisely as possible, give people a sense of how that particular session can be useful, relevant, and (with luck) interesting.

      Ronald Byrd

      Posted on 1/26/15 8:05:28 PM Permalink

      This was a bit of a refresher for me. But, it was a valuable refresher. When it comes to education and teachers I agree with all of the assumptions but one; not all teachers are self motivated or self directed. It is the nature of the beast. Very few teachers get to pick when they can go learn something new, let alone at attend something they are really motivated to learn.

      When I am training, I do try and respect their time by making the learning 24/7 365. I make sure it is relevant (by constantly asking for feedback after sessions and modifying the training accordingly) and I make sure it is goal oriented. The one thing that I purposely do NOT do is solicit life experiences and knowledge from those that attend my trainings. I find that this can lead to wild tangents and disengages those who do not have similar experiences.

      Laurens Derks

      Posted on 1/26/15 6:22:29 AM Permalink

      No real surprises here.

      Jonas Almeida

      Posted on 1/26/15 12:50:54 AM Permalink

      I'd say is more difficult to teach adults than young people. Adults have pre-conceptions or sometimes simply assumes that they won't be able to accomplish the task and give up before even starting.

      I always try to motivate the older ones and extract the best of them. Sometimes is not the case of understanding the software straight away, but to get the idea and how it does work, and then, on his own time, learn how to do it.

      I also encourage the ones that learn faster to help the slower ones. It helps the class bounding and we can reach a nice learning curve.

      Tonya Mills

      Posted on 1/25/15 11:42:38 PM Permalink

      It’s it sad that I assume (and we all know what assume stands for) that all of the items mentioned are taken care of by the learner independently of any contribution from the facilitator or designer of the course. We assume since they are ‘adults’ that they are responsible for fulfilling any needs that may be missing from the lesson.

      Why aren’t they engaged? They’re adults and we shouldn’t have to try as hard to make them listen/understand/engage. Why isn’t this four hour meeting with a PowerPoint presentation not working?

      I agree with the assumptions and plan to apply these best practices in my next learning session. Less talk, more interaction for all. :)

      David Hotler

      Posted on 1/25/15 10:26:35 PM Permalink

      They seem so obvious. Yet when you think about it, we screw up almost everyday by not using these assumptions in our teaching of adults.
      I agree with them.
      It is very very important as you plan for effective instruction for adults to include these assumptions in order to engage your learners. When you plan you need to make sure you are teaching people something that is immediately useful, relevant, and some what controlled by the learner. A great way to do this is to provide a survey at the beginning of the session and then make sure to include a response to the learners questions in your session or the next session. Also, adults have so much experience so it is important not to treat them as if you are the holder of all knowledge and also to acknowledge these experiences and let them speak about them.

      Lee Keller

      Posted on 1/25/15 8:38:34 PM Permalink

      My initial reaction to Knowles's assumptions is that only a fool assumes. Making any assumption about a group eliminates focusing on the individuals. It is important to remember that they are all individuals.

      I partially agree with the assumption of Lifetime of Experience, though I believe it is a serious error to assume A) that all your adults have had the same number of years in their lifetime, B) that the global and national experiences affecting their lives are similar across generations of adults, and C)that experiences by adults, even in the same generation, are perceived in the same way. I do agree that all adults will have intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. I would quickly disagree that you should assume they have the same ones.

      I disagree with the concept that these are best practices. They are, as stated, assumptions. While you may have some of the people having some of these characteristics some of the time, it would be fallacy to assume that all your adults in a class have all these all the time... or some of these... I am sounding too much like Ben Franklin, but he had some valid points in his assumptions, too.

      Ginger Armstrong

      Posted on 1/25/15 3:52:46 PM Permalink

      I totally agree with Knowles's assumptions about adult learners and if I touched on any of them it was more by accident than by design. I have often tried to use self-directing by asking "What is it you want to be able to do?" Many times the answers are too generic; it makes it difficult to start a discussion.

      I have lead Professional Development for teachers in my district because I work in the computer lab and they tell me they want to be able to use a computer. I need to be able to open that discussion into "what is the problem you want the computer/ technology to solve" either in your professional life or personal. It is not an easy discussion when many don't have the vocabulary or understanding to know how technology can support them.

      I am currently working on a technology committee and creating the most basic part (Vision Statement) is difficult. The good news is many of the assumptions have been brought up, now I can bring in more resources.

      Albor Moscoso

      Posted on 1/25/15 3:15:39 PM Permalink

      I found Knowles' assumptions to be correct. I agree with them, and one of the most powerful tools I have used while instructing adults is drawing in their life experience. I gives them an acknowledge that they matter and they engage and participate more freely which gives an opportunity to engage in conversations.

      Tarek Bahaa El Deen

      Posted on 1/25/15 12:56:02 PM Permalink

      How can i meet the adult learner’s needs in your professional development sessions related to Knowles’s Assumption
      Need to Know : i well tell the trainees why they need to learn this course, and what the benefits on their professional development.
      Self-Directing : i well encourage the trainees to planned their assignment, their needs, their time and their efforts
      Lifetime of Experience : i well plan my course curriculum depends on give them a chance to tell us their experience in the field of the course and take their story to build the point of lesson.
      Relevancy-Oriented : i well build many practice for the same skill to give them a choice for suitable practice.
      Problem-Centered : i well give the trainees a chance to express their problem-centered to join it with context
      Intrinsic and Extrinsic : in the end of every lecture, i'll join what they studied and how they can use it to get more promotion in their work field.

      Roberto Alejandro Nuñez Lévano

      Posted on 1/25/15 5:14:25 AM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      I really didn't know this information, but I find it extremely useful.

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

      I totally agree. In my experience when I tried to teach to adult learners, sometimes they did not find interesting or can't understand the content I show them.

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

      Next week, I will be teaching k-12 teachers, different online tools. This knowledge (Knowles’s assumptions) will help me as I design the class content and class activities.

      anna bach

      Posted on 1/25/15 4:32:44 AM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      I thought his assumptions were realistic and relevant.

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

      I agree with all of his assumptions, particularly allowing the learning to be self-directed and meaningful to the adult learner.

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

      I believe you could model a classroom 'situation' or 'lesson' to show how it could be improved using Adobe products. Each Adobe session should also clearly state the purpose and reasons for learning. Giving learners 'hands-on' time is also essential.

      Martin Guinn

      Posted on 1/24/15 8:14:57 PM Permalink

      In my experience as an educator and student that Knowles' assumptions are very true for adult learners. Most adults do not like learning in classrooms. They need incentives.

      I am in agreement with his assumptions; however, educators need to be prepared for the unexpected. There is always someone who does not fit the bill.

      Of these assumptions, I probably focus more on the relevancy of the subject by demonstrating how they can apply the training to their jobs.

      Brenda Tuncer

      Posted on 1/24/15 3:33:06 PM Permalink

      These assuptions are best practices. As a teacher trainer I try to use these assuptions when planning my trainings for teachers. It is so important that I link trainings to immediate problem solving in the classroom. It is sometimes hard to remember all of them but with the graphic organizer I should be able to use that to plan and implement a better training experience.

      Kathleen Rush

      Posted on 1/24/15 3:07:36 PM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      He hits the nail on the head with his assumptions about adult learners. I find that they apply to me personally when attending professional development sessions. We are all tight on time so if the content of the PD session is immediately useful and relevant then you have my attention. If not I tend to disengage pretty quickly.

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

      I do. I try to follow them as I plan my own PD for my teachers. I remind myself constantly that they have very little time do devote to PD and what time they do have is precious to them. My sessions have to be relevant and show them something they can take back to their classrooms and use immediately - without follow-up training if possible.

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

      I tailor, to the best of my ability, each session for a specific audience based on their stated needs requirements. This means the content is relevant to them. I make sure that sessions are short and to the point with a take-away idea/skill that they can begin to use immediately. Sessions almost always center on solving a problem they are faced with. Although I have run into those instances where it has to be more of a general type of session due to district requirements.

      Ahmed Al Haj Qasem

      Posted on 1/24/15 11:58:59 AM Permalink

      Overall I do agree with all of these assumptions although

      Overall agree.

      • How can you apply these best practices to your learning sessions?
      • On the whole I do for myself and as part of my sessions,except for this assumption Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators, haven't thought about that for others. Maybe I need to reflect more on this to ensure a better experience for the learner , perhaps it might be their motivator.

      Dawn Maitz

      Posted on 1/24/15 5:35:25 AM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners? Do you agree or disagree?

      I'm familiar with Knowles' assumptions and view them positively and agree wholeheartedly.

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

      His assumptions are common sense best practices and I make a practice of reviewing them prior to any training:

      *Adults need to know why they are learning something.
      *Adult learners are self-directing and engage best when they have input into their learning.
      *Adult learners have a lifetime of experience that should be accessed as a resource and a foundation to which one can connect new knowledge.
      *Adult learners react best to learning opportunities that offer relevant and practical knowledge, tools, and strategies.
      *Adult learners respond best in the context of problem-centered learning that is applicable to real life situations that they face in their personal or professional lives.
      *Adults are driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

      Mark Janke

      Posted on 1/23/15 10:32:06 PM Permalink

      I think he's pretty spot on.
      His assumptions seem true for me. I need to know why I'm learning, what I'm learning, and that I have an element of control in the lessons.
      I'd ask my adult learners to use some basic concepts to create something. EX: Teach the clone stamp tool in Photoshop. Then ask them to use the clone stamp tool to solve something that would apply to their job (advertisment, graphic organizer, Editing a facebook photo before posting).

      Dominic McCall

      Posted on 1/23/15 10:30:16 PM Permalink

      Knowles is new to me- but has obvious relevance in the consideration of any trainer. Most professionals who are in a situation of being trained without choice can be withdrawn unless they have options, are participatory

      Relevancy- Orientated is an area to consider, but 'you can wait around an eternity' for colleagues to be receptive- so I applaud the principle.

      In teaching and occasional training of staff understanding the 'Experience' of the colleagues you are training is essential.

      Konstantin Köhler

      Posted on 1/23/15 8:12:32 PM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      Very interesting. But I wonder if not most of these points would also be relevant when teaching youth. I think they also learn more effective when they know why they are learning something, when they can have input into their learning, when you use their experiences as a resource and foundation and when they learn relevant and practical knowledge that they can apply in real life.

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

      I agree with them but think it is not just applicable for adults but also for young people.

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

      I only teach children and youth at the moment and use most of these practices. Especially when you teach youth and try to inspire them to creating something it is so important that they get a feeling of ownership of what they do and these practices give them a lot of ownership of their learnings.

      Kathryn Riley

      Posted on 1/23/15 7:14:49 PM Permalink

      II enjoyed watching the video on Knowle's assumptions because I could relate to a lot of what was discussed. I can't tell you how many times over the years I have been sitting in professional development sessions that are not relevant to me or what I teach. Being an elective teacher we are required to attend all the sessions the core teachers must attend. Most of the trainings are a complete waste of our time and it would be very easy on the part of the trainer to do some adaptations or include examples for elective teachers so we would be more engaged at these meetings. Otherwise, elective teachers should be able to go to an alternative meeting on a topic relevant to them. Is this happening to any other educators out there? I will be sure to pay attention to these assumptions as I plan professional development. I will also use some of these theories when delivering lessons to students to help them be more engaged.

      Philip Nyman

      Posted on 1/23/15 6:23:14 PM Permalink

      He makes excellent points. I agree with Ian in his msg that these are largely common sense considerations. I think it is important to make a conscious effort to address these issues in every adult learning situation. One notion that I don't like is that the instructor needs to create for the learner the sense of relevancy for them and that practical, problem-oriented instructional approaches are the best way to go. This, I think, is simplistic and leads to 'lazy learners'. As an adult, we are able to deal with more abstract concepts better than youngsters and that part of any instruction should be abstract, with opportunities for each learner to then connect/relate principles to their situation (isn't this part of the creative process?). In my courses I always start with introductions and ask staff about their experiences, expectations and current/upcoming problems. I ask that as the course progresses they think about concrete ways to apply what we discuss to their professional work. Lastly, I would say that the best way to turn me off is to ignore my experience and ideas. The wealth of knowledge and experience in a class should be leveraged.

      Leonardo caroleo

      Posted on 1/23/15 5:00:48 PM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      They are assumptions that are need to be taken into account and are extremely relevant. The adult brain is different to the teenage brain and it has to be acknowledged if you want successful learning.

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions? I do agree with the assumptions and I feel that for someone who has taught both younger and older learners they are ways you sometimes naturally assume when teaching a group of adults.

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions?


      How? In everything I teach their is always a way to relate it to their personal or professional life and this engages them. Also by taking a more practical angle they tend to want to apply it immediately and that thirst creates the process of waiting to learn.

      Ian Gilbert

      Posted on 1/23/15 12:11:16 PM Permalink

      My initial reaction was that the assumptions were common sense things you would soon discover after teaching for a while, as well in daily life.

      On the whole I agree with Knowles's assumptions for adult learners as they are general assumptions. As others have mentioned they aren't perfect, such as they can also apply to children too. The assumptions could be a good starting point to understand how adult learns.

      I always like to chat with students to understand what they would like to learn or have to learn and their past experience. This allows me to adapt the course around their needs, making it more relevant, allowing them to control the direction of the course. Hopefully covering much of Knowles's assumptions.

      Firas Jadaan

      Posted on 1/23/15 8:27:22 AM Permalink

      I agree with the assumptions of Malcolm Knowles ( Need to Know, Self-Directing, Lifetime of Experience, Relevancy-Oriented, Problem-Centered, Intrinsic and Extrinsic )................ All clear and the most impotent thing Life time Experience and the trainers must have the new knowledge with old knowledge Experience, that what help me in my classes and make my courses successes.

      Robert G West

      Posted on 1/23/15 8:11:28 AM Permalink

      The beauty of teaching software programs is the skills are not an end unto themselves- we're preparing leaders to create, to draw on the background and experience so as to generate material, not simply absorb it. This creates relevance, self direction, motivation- many of Knowle's concepts.

      Fabiana Salzano

      Posted on 1/23/15 12:01:00 AM Permalink

      I am in agreement with the assumptions of Malcolm Knowles. I think I already apply in part these assumptions, but I can still improve.

      Shanlee Liu

      Posted on 1/22/15 9:01:36 PM Permalink

      I agree with Knowles's assumption about adult learning. Especially the assumption that adult need to feel they are being valued for their prior knowledge and experience. In the field of education, the younger generation educators has a lot to learn from the older generation and vice versa. Listen to the words of wisdom of others could save a lot of try-and-error down the road. I always enjoy those workshops that participants can share their own experience with each other instead of listening to the instructor all the time.

      Walter Glogowski

      Posted on 1/22/15 7:59:26 PM Permalink

      I agree with most of the assumptions with the exception that the learning works best when it is linked to prior experience. I'm not sure about that. What do others think? I always attempt to make the learning relevant to learner and I think that this is universally best practice.

      Cindy Leonard

      Posted on 1/22/15 7:57:11 PM Permalink

      I agree with all of the assumptions, have experienced and observed all of them in action at one point or another throughout my career.

      I took notes in the provided table regarding my own practice and incorporation of the assumptions - pasting below...

      Knowles’s Assumption

      How do you meet the adult learner’s needs in your professional development sessions?

      Need to Know

      I would love to have more time to do this – perhaps do a pre-class survey before each session would be helpful. (Constraints are time to do so and the fact that many people register at the last minute for our classes.) A good friend of mine does a “burning question” exercise at the beginning of all of her sessions. Might be something good to try.


      I do build in discussion and reflection time for all of my classes – asking them throughout the class, how might you incorporate this into your work? What questions do you have?

      Lifetime of Experience

      I always try to do this, they always know more than you think but not necessarily in the ways or areas that you might think.


      One of the great things about teaching non-credit classes is that they do come ready to learn. They register for our classes because they have an immediate need. I try to build curriculum so they have real skills and techniques they can take back and start to implement right away.


      I think I do this to a large degree now, could do a better job of this though by constantly reviewing curriculum and keeping it updated for current real-world problems.

      Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators

      I feel like a cheerleader when I incorporate this piece, always encouraging them throughout classes and congratulating them on taking the initiative for registering for the class.

      Roy Bailey

      Posted on 1/22/15 7:43:10 PM Permalink

      To me, Relevancy-Oriented is the big one. You can try to explain to a teacher why they are going to need to know the skill you are teaching, but it often does not sink in until they are trying to complete a task that requires that skill. So we're trying real hard to capture our training as short videos that demonstrate the skill when the teacher gets stuck - Just in Time Training.

      Jason Webb

      Posted on 1/22/15 5:27:18 PM Permalink

      I have always tried to center learning of off application through why a learner needs to know and relevancy. Through those approaches, the self direction and lifetime experience can be applied. The only one that I do not agree with or have seen bad results from is the Intrinsic or Extrinsic Motivators, aa teacher/student who is only motivated by personal gains ($, power, advancement) does not really learn to improve but learns to take advantage of.

      James Anderson III

      Posted on 1/22/15 4:31:32 PM Permalink

      Since I first read Knowles book years ago... two elements really stand out to me: need to know and prior experience. I have always found it important to clearly crosswalk how training content will help the participants do their job now, or how it will enable them to meet a change in their job. Further, adults always come with past experiences, knowledge, and even bias. By connecting past learning experiences and knowledge, brain science also tells us that will help to move new information to long term memory more successfully.

      I disagree with some that Knowles principles apply to all ages. Learner motivation is a big part of this, as is autonomy. Knowles model assumes a mature learner that has some level of self-awareness and motivation.

      Andrea Marz

      Posted on 1/22/15 4:14:32 PM Permalink

      I agree and do apply his principles. As Graeme bellow said, it pretty much applies to all ages.

      Billy Walker

      Posted on 1/22/15 4:06:45 PM Permalink

      I think culture will bring about different passions. What is considered an exceptable level of drive and determination here in the United States for example would probably be substantially different than an individual being brought up in North Korea for example. This may even include little to no passion for anything. I think your upbringing at home can make tremendous differences as well. If you are not taught to think for yourself, not taught the importance of reading and listening to other folk's opinions, not taught to be creative will in all likelihood be cast in your personality for perhaps the rest of your life.

      John Foley

      Posted on 1/22/15 3:11:51 PM Permalink

      In my role, I have to drill these assumptions into my training team. I tent to pare it down into making the content problem based, relevant, and real (this is what you will see).

      As far as extrinsic motivates, I steer clear of monetary rewards. Daniel Pink's Drive is a wonderful explanation of why money doesn't work to motivate.

      Matthew Miller

      Posted on 1/22/15 11:02:59 AM Permalink

      Before I get to the content, let me echo some others here. Best practice would be to keep the videos shorter, as Carolyn mentioned; 5-7 minutes is the best length, I have found. As Viviani said, we also all know that text-filled slides are booring and disengaging, so there isn't really any excuse for a world-class program like EdEx using powerpoints like this (unless part of the point is the contrast with how great the rest of the learning resources in this course are going to be... ;-). Finally, recent research on narrative learning is showing that telling a story works far better than the standard (read: staid and booring) tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em, then tell 'em what you told 'em. For adults the latter comes across as rather patronizing, especially when done so formulaically as has been the case in our last few videos.

      Now, on Knowles points. I think these apply to everyone, by the way, not just adult learners (although lifetime of experience less so as age decreases). We're short-changing kids if we believe any of this doesn't apply to them.

      1. Why - I agree. I try to include this specifically in my presentations and seminars.
      2. Self-directed - well, sometimes. I find, as Viviani commented, that the longer the participants have been out of traditional education, the more self-directed they are. Those who are recent escapees...I mean graduates...much less so. Even those who are teachers show a much lower self-directed streak, in my experience. This is troubling on many levels. On the other hand, I think everyone is this way inherently, it's just that it's been trained out of many during their years in the educational system, so they don't act on their instincts, other than to disengage.
        One point I'd like to make here is that the choice you provide your participants must be authentic. Fake choices put in merely for the purpose of giving a choice, rather than really providing the participants different opportunities, are pretty instantly obvious to them and are universally a turn-off.
      3. Lifetime of experience - I agree. Especially about the connecting to existing experience. This is something that cannot be built-in to a seminar (and thus, is pretty nearly impossible in a video course) but is hugely valuable when I've experienced it myself and I'm told by participants at my workshops. The resource side, I find, will show itself readily if you allow participants to comment and interact during the presentation. Many are more than willing to share their experience(s)...sometimes it's an issue rather than a resource. ;-)
      4. Relevancy oriented / Task-Problem-Life centered - I feel these are really the same thing and I totally agree. This is definitely what I look for in a workshop and therefor how I try to orient my workshops, too. Theory and lecture are just not engaging; I try to be as practical as possible for my participants. I especially liked the description of this as "adults live in the real world." (So do all students, and they get when instruction is relevant/life centered and when it's not - that's why so many classrooms in America have engagement issues!)
      5. Extrinsic & Intrinsic - absolutely! As a propontent of gamification in the classroom, I have read and researched on this extensively. I think the best, most practical material on intrinsic has come from Dan Pink (AMP - autonomy, mastery, purpose). But extrinsic motivators are also useful, especially in the early/low-level materials on a particular subject. By the time you get to the advanced materials, participants are inherently intrinsically motivated (or they wouldn't be there any longer).

      Graeme Nelson

      Posted on 1/22/15 2:21:50 PM Permalink

      "I think these apply to everyone, by the way, not just adult learners"

      Interestingly, Matthew, Russel Knudson suggested that the term Humanagogy should be used so that the similarities as well as the differences could be accounted for in both adult and child teaching and learning.

      Shireen Ramjahn

      Posted on 1/22/15 8:55:59 AM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      I resonated with them!

      Do you agree or disagree with the above assumptions?

      I guess I agree

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?

      Ensuring I relate to the students

      Billy Walker

      Posted on 1/22/15 7:34:44 AM Permalink

      I think all the discussed points are valid. However, he fails to discuss the most important motivator of all, and that is passion for what one is doing. I think it's fair to say many if not most are at their job for the paycheck. This is the road to failure in life. It is critical you find something that you are passionate about other than the value of your paycheck. Passion is the ultimate motivator. Passion will help to ensure you suck up every piece of knowledge you can in reference to your chosen career. Or life for that matter. Passion will drive you to be the 1st one at work come Monday morning and the last to leave on Friday. Work is not work if you love what you do. Pay no heed to those that throw the word workaholic around; those folks tend to lack passion in what they do. You have an opportunity to create something of value beyond dollars alone. Whether it be at home or at work.

      Once you meet the passion test you are truly on the road to move forward and excel. The other drivers discussed in this video will naturally occur if you are passionate about what you do.

      Moundir Al Amrani

      Posted on 1/22/15 9:29:24 AM Permalink

      I totally agree agree with you, Billy. passion is the greatest motivator of all. Even the paycheck cannot be motivating enough and it will never give one enough sill to overcome whatever problems that may come int heir career. The points discussed in the video are theoretically important and valid, but everything else depends on passion.

      Graeme Nelson

      Posted on 1/22/15 3:43:26 PM Permalink

      Billy, it's interesting that you highlight an omission. Another aspect that may not be covered adequately is the possibility of cultural dimensions. In particular, when I have been teaching on international courses,I have found that some learners from certain cultures behave very differently to those from other cultures. There have been very real differences in expectations of the teacher/learner relationship and the peer/peer relationships in online and face-to-face environments. Many of these learners have not been self-directing at all nor have they changed their behaviour significantly over the course despite being encouraged to take greater responsibility for their learning and being supported throughout the process. Do you think that passion might overcome such aspects or do you think that culture and other background environmental dimensions may prevail?

      Alan Humbert

      Posted on 2/16/15 1:01:14 AM Permalink

      Is passion a starting point, of is it something that can develop once one becomes involved in an activity or calling?

      If you are good at something you will be inclined to like it. If you like it, then you are going to be inclined to do it, or practice is, and get better at it. As you get better at it, you are likely to like it more ..........

      Lauren Abbott

      Posted on 1/22/15 12:32:36 AM Permalink

      My initial reaction to Knowles's assumptions was that they are fairly accurate but also quite generic. I feel that the word 'adult' doesn't always represent the maturity level of the students I teach, even though they are over 18 years (considered an adult in Australia). I think that the older you get, the more relevant these assumptions become. I see a huge difference between the attitudes of students straight out of high school, as apposed to students who return to study in their 20s. The practices I currently apply would be providing tasks that are 'relevancy oriented', excercises that have an outcome that can be instantly shared and applied to life.

      Viviani Barrera

      Posted on 1/21/15 9:19:08 PM Permalink

      1. My first reaction to this video was that it is long and full of words, something that makes it boring. I would like to see the person speaking better than looking at words. Something in motion is more appealing for me then a static screen.

      2. I agree with some of Knowles’s Assumptions, but not with all of them:

      Need to know: yes, I think everybody needs to know why they are studying that specific subject, even young students.
      Self-Directing: no, I don't agree that this assumption can be applied to everybody. My young adult students and even the older ones are very depending. I noticed that if I don't guide them through all the tasks, they get lost. I think I can blame their lack of time for this. Most of them work during the day and study at night, so they don't have lots of time to self-direct themselves.
      Lifetime of Experience: yes, adults bring different experiences acumulated through their lives, and it is what makes teaching adults very challenging, but at the same time very exciting. We can always share experiences and knowledges, and learn together.
      Relevancy-Oriented: yes, I agree that if the students can apply what they just learned it is not only easier to memorize the lesson but it works as a motivational factor as well.
      • Problem-Centered: although I've never had an opportunity to give a lecture using this assumption, I agree that it really helps when you learn something to solve a problem.
      Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators: I agree that some adults may be pushed further in their studies by both factors, but unfortunately my students are mainly motivated by extrinsic reasons, like "I need to get my diploma in order to get a promotion or find a good job, which will allow me to gain more money".

      3. The practices I apply to my work are need to know, lifetime experience, and in some cases, relevancy-oriented. I normally explain my audience why they are studying that subject and ask for their lifetime experience during the first classes. And when I teach something that can be applied to their lives right away, like editing pictures, I do. In this case, I could ask them to bring their own pictures to edit, or to criate their own caricatures. They all have lots of fun during these sessions.

      Jeredene Mayfield

      Posted on 1/21/15 8:01:38 PM Permalink

      I take this even further than Knowles using the Briggs-Myers profiles of 16 personality types. Understanding the differing needs of these types allowed me to better reach profiles that are totally different than my own and understand these learners.

      I do agree with Knowles' assumptions but as I said the Briggs-Myers gave me greater depth to reach more learners. I try to include concepts from both philosophies in my PD opportunities. Using these strategies as increased my effectiveness as a facilitator as measured by my exit evaluations.

      Viviani Barrera

      Posted on 1/21/15 9:19:45 PM Permalink

      Thank you Jeredene for sharing this link.

      Gail Dunn

      Posted on 1/21/15 7:51:51 PM Permalink

      I believe the assumptions are pretty spot on. In my own experience if I do not know why I need to know something, or if I have no say in how I learn it I tend to become impatient and start wondering if it really applies to me. Most adults bring a wide range of experience to any type of training and accessing that experience shows you value your participants and are interested in meeting their needs to move a step further.

      Sue Howlett

      Posted on 1/21/15 11:50:39 AM Permalink

      Now I have thought about my own experiences, overall I do agree with most of these assumptions although I wouldn’t have actually realised the paradigm to which this refers to , for me it’s just something I do, and how I would wish a course or workshop would be for me. For the most part this happens internally, but having participated in course outside of my job less so.

      Overall agree, but it seems like common sense to me.

      • How can you apply these best practices to your learning sessions?
      • On the whole I do for myself and as part of my sessions,except for this assumption Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators, haven't thought about that for others. Maybe I need to reflect more on this to ensure a better experience for the learner , perhaps it might be their motivator.

      john dimitriou

      Posted on 1/21/15 10:33:37 AM Permalink

      The assumptions are a very good way to frame your thinking when planning a course outline. These assumptions can also work well with young students at high school. Although there life experience may not be as rich as an older person thèy do have skill experience which canbe varied. For example some can tell stories really well and have the ability to create strong narratives while others have highly specialised technical skills.

      Mafaz Pun

      Posted on 1/21/15 1:39:54 AM Permalink

      I think Knowles's assumptions are great and I am familiar with some of them, I agree with them, well I apply most of them, I encourage them to share their experiences and knowledge about the subject, then give them a brief overview of it and how it can benefits them, and get them motivated.

      Gary Crossey

      Posted on 1/20/15 7:02:18 AM Permalink

      All of my adult learners are arriving to me with an objective. I first try and establish what that objective is - what digtial media task(s) do they do to perform to be successful.

      I encourage my adult learners to help one another. Allows for the students to connect and review each other work.

      It is important for me as a teacher to connect with my students. I encourage my students to share their experiences. Both present and past. For many of my students they have years data entry computer experience, while very like creative exposure.

      Yes, my students are coming to me to learn a task. Keeping my demos to short, useful tips makes the class useful. Receiving an email right after a class from a student saying that they have already applied a new task learnt in the class is awesome.

      Viviani Barrera

      Posted on 1/21/15 8:41:31 PM Permalink

      Hi Gary, I agree with you about making your demos short, it is really important to hold the student's attention. And when you know that something you've taught was helpful is amazing. Once I had the opportunity to teach one of my teachers, he was teaching background design in a traditional way, but he didn't know how to use Photoshop and he needed it. Then I told him I could teach him and I did. He has never forgotten that and I feel great I could help him.

      mireille massue

      Posted on 1/20/15 5:53:54 AM Permalink

      I needed to rate this sorry

      mireille massue

      Posted on 1/20/15 5:53:24 AM Permalink

      I agree. I visualize what I want to accomplish so that when it becomes difficult I see the end result. For me to learn must be relevant to why I want to learn it as well I need to put it into action immediately. I find most adult learners are the same.

      Which of these best practices do you currently apply to your professional development sessions? How?
      training must be connected to what they need to learn
      VAK designed - visual - auditory -questions - kinesthetic - where they actually apply what they have learned
      three questions + 1 - what do they already know or are doing
      what is one thing they can immediately apply to what they are currently doing
      what is one thing they are curious about and what to learn more of

      +1 questions - how will they share so the learning becomes visible

      Leon Felipe Carrizosa

      Posted on 1/20/15 4:35:59 AM Permalink

      I teach adult people, video production and post-production. And couldn't agree more with these assumptions. Like Rachel and Brian have already said, these seems so obvious now. The interesting question is how to apply this knowledge.

      That reminds me I had a group of nuns as learners, some of them 50 years old or elder. I was teaching them how to record and edit their own videos. They were teachers in a catholic and very traditional school for girls. And most of them doesn't wanted to be there. I think they were pushed to take that course.

      It was really challenging. That's when I started to consider these assumptions as a tool. Considering that extrinsic motivation doesn't seem to exist, I tried to find an intrinsic motivation. So, I started by teaching how to use Google Hangouts to talk with their families and share digital contents, especially videos. And after that was really easy to motivate to Create those videos. Now it was meaningful to them.

      The video class was a total failure! But at the end it was a nice experience for everybody. I think that day I learned a lot of student. More than they learned of me.

      Lori Valasek

      Posted on 1/20/15 2:39:21 AM Permalink

      in a round about way teach the way you would want to learn. it hits all the assumptions but at times you many not be able to insert all of them for one reason or another but be creative and sometimes work around the hurtle.

      Rachel Haselby

      Posted on 1/19/15 5:15:38 PM Permalink

      What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?

      My initial reaction was "Duh." As an "Adult Learner" my personal learning experience follows Knowles assumptions almost exactly. This made it very easy for me to understand and agree these learning assumptions also apply to other adult learners. I always try to make sure that the learning is relevant to the students. If they can't figure out a way to apply this to their lives, either professional or personal, they will shut down and not learn. I have attended PD where the presenter does not attempt to draw parallels to anything that would be relevant to me or other learners in that class. It is always really hard to learn.

      I teach high school at a school where we attempt to teach in a project based environment. I have found that if you can draw parallels to your students lives, or attempt to show them why it's important to learn, they will shut down faster than an adult learner will. This experience has helped me to refocus and redirect a lesson so that it will be relevant to my students.

      Brian Dawson

      Posted on 1/19/15 5:19:56 PM Permalink

      Totally! You are spot on! I think most of this is pretty obvious as well!

      casey unangst

      Posted on 1/19/15 4:09:08 PM Permalink

      I think Knowles makes great points about these assumptions. I especially think it is important to let the adult learner know why they are learning something! These assumptions can easily be included in training and would be valuable overall. I especially think that the motivation is important- we need to keep teachers motivated in order for them to motivate the students.

      Brian Dawson

      Posted on 1/19/15 3:54:46 PM Permalink

      While I agree with Knowles assumptions, I find that the last point is most telling. In my position, I have no way of dealing with extrinsic motivators beyond what is built in to whatever training program we have. Furthermore, intrinsically, the adults taking my workshop are already internally motivated, or they wouldn't be there. I find that the success of achieving new designs or levels in using creative tools is the best motivator there is. It almost seems like the process of stating the obvious is why we teach at all!

      Keyasha Johnson

      Posted on 1/19/15 5:00:34 AM Permalink

      I have been in situations where I could recognize the truth of Knowles's assumptions about adult learners. I agree with Knowles. As the adult learner gets older, (from college student to professional adult, to a professional adult with a family) these assumptions become more pronounced.

      I try to apply them all. I develop mutually respectful relationships with learners. I want them to know their thoughts and experiences are important enough for me to hear. In some occasions, those experiences shape the tone, content, and pace of the course. The point is to get the adult learners motivated to learn and wiling to commit the time necessary to complete the curriculum.

      Michael Larocque

      Posted on 1/18/15 10:15:34 PM Permalink

      I think the two assumptions that resonated most with me were the "Need to Know" and "Wealth of Experience." I believe everyone is more engaged when they know why they are learning, be they adult or youth learners. If a learner doesn't believe (correctly or incorrectly) that the content is relevant to them, you are going to have a hard time getting them to fully engage with the lesson. Secondly, having their own experience acknowledged as being relevant and an asset helps the learners mentally connect the content with their own roles.

      Rachelle Wooten

      Posted on 1/18/15 3:52:57 PM Permalink

      I'm familiar with these assumptions, but the first time I heard about them I was amazed to see that there were some of these practices that I already incorporate in my trainings. YesI agree with them. This helped me to see the "why" behind I use them. I always include a survey or poll question at the beginning of my sessions to access prior knowledge or learning, I use a virtual parking lot with a tool like TodaysMeet to get more input and to collect the ideas from the teachers cumulative experience. Above all, I always make sure I give them a "need to know" in some way- sharing classroom ideas or ways it will save them time or improve student learning.

      carolyn brown

      Posted on 1/18/15 7:45:47 AM Permalink

      My initial reaction is these videos are too long. However, I agree with Knowles' assumptions and I apply all of these practices in my professional development sessions by creating project-based opportunities for learners to use their own content and apply it to lessons or task in their own classrooms.