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Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowles' Sixth Assumption: The Need to Know.

Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowles' Sixth Assumption: The Need to Know.


In this lesson, students will analyze how Knowles Sixth Assumption of Adult Learning with their professional development plans.

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Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowle's Six Assumption: The Need to Know.

Source: Globe, Clker,; Thinking Person, Clker,; Smart Board, Pixabay,; Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, Wikimedia Commons,

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Hello there, and welcome. It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention. And in this lesson, we'll talk about how the need to know can be the mother of learning as we analyze alignment between professional development and Knowles' sixth assumption of adult learning, which is the need to know. Let's begin.

I'm sure you've heard the old saying, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man a fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Of course, the underlying moral to this quote is that if you enable someone, the reward is only temporary. However, if you create a need for them to know, and show them how to do it, they will sustain that learning.

It reminds me of the famous scene in the movie "The Miracle Worker" in which Annie Sullivan will not give in to Helen Keller's antics during breakfast. She, in essence, created a need to learn how to use her utensils in order to earn breakfast. Before the confrontation, there was no need for Helen to learn because her family simply gave in. However, Annie upped the stakes by making the learning necessary.

The field of education is constantly changing, and in order to keep up with the learners we serve, we too need to be active learners, which is why quality professional development is so important. To bring it to the next level of effectiveness, designers need to take into account adult learning theories, particularly Malcolm Knowles' six assumptions. Teachers benefit greatly when they are able to make connections between their professional learning, classroom practices, and the skills found in adult learning theories.

The first step of the alignment process is to identify areas of existing alignment. Next, you identify areas of misalignment. And finally, you identify areas that can be improved or enhanced. This analysis is meant to be reflective in nature, thus potentially leading to solutions and recommendations. There are no wrong answers.

In this lesson we'll model the alignment to assumption six. Here is the professional development example that we'll use. A school notices a steady decline in literacy scores over the course of 3 years, and as a result they're offering training in the daily five workshop model for teachers who are interested in implementing it. Let's go ahead and answer some questions that will help check for the alignment of assumption six, the need to know.

Step one is to find out if the assumption is aligned with their professional development plan. Here the questions to ask that will help us determine that alignment. Are teachers clear as to why this information is important to learn, and has the importance of learning the new skills and knowledge been incorporated into the professional development? In this case, one would hope that through regular meanings and transparency of data, that the faculty knows the language scores are dropping thus prompting this learning opportunity. If not, it should most definitely be communicated during the professional development.

The second step is to identify any areas of misalignment in terms of aligning the PD with the need to know. What can be changed, and how do we share that need to know? In our example of declining scores, it can be a bit uncomfortable however necessary. You wouldn't want to single out any individual teachers whose students are struggling. However, you want to be able to support and improve their practice. That's why it's so important to foster a culture of teamwork and collaborative ownership of all the students and their work.

The last step is look for areas of enhancement in order to make our plan stronger. What needs to be changed in order for the optimal learning to happen for the adult? What needs to improve for the activity to strengthen the learner's need to know? In both these questions the answer goes back to how the information about declining scores is shared with the staff and stakeholders.

So it's time to go ahead and summarize what we covered in this lesson. We began by introducing the importance of aligning professional development with adult learning theories in general. Then we looked at the three steps of identifying alignment, identifying misalignment, and looking for places where we can enhance or improve the alignment, specifically to Knowles' sixth assumption called the need to know. I then modeled an analysis of a professional learning opportunity using a series of questions.

And now for today's food for thought. I'd like you to engage in an exercise that often helps me relax a bit when I get overwhelmed with the many things I want or need to know. Choose a couple of things that you do routinely now that you remember struggling with at first. Do you remember that feeling of not knowing?

For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, check out the additional resources section that come with this presentation. The additional resources include hyperlinks useful for applications of course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks so much for joining me. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowle's Six Assumption: The Need to Know."

(00:00-00:18) Intro

(00:19-01:00) The Miracle Worker

(01:01-01:46) The Steps To Alignment

(01:47-02:10) PD Example

(02:11-02:42) Step 1

(02:43-03:11) Step 2

(03:12-03:32) Step 3

(03:33-04:34) Food For Thought/Summary

Additional Resources

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In this post, Ellen Moir reviews “Greatness by Design,” the plan from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s office to reform teacher professional learning to incorporate more Adult Learning Theory principles in order to improve teacher quality.

Transforming Classroom Practice: Professional Development Strategies in Educational Technology

This text outlines the professional development strategies necessary for sustainability of technology integration in schools. Close attention is given to Adult Learning Theory.