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Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowles' Assumption 2: Experience of the Adult Lea

Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowles' Assumption 2: Experience of the Adult Lea


In this lesson, students will analyze how Knowles Second Assumption of Adult Learning should be connected with their professional development plans

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Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowle's Assumption 2: Experience of the Adult Learning.

Source: Globe, Clker,; Thinking Person, Clker,; Sign, Pixabay,; Shift Knob, Pixabay,

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Hello, and welcome. In this lesson, we'll analyze the second assumption in Malcolm Knowles' adult learning theory called Experience. And we'll check for alignment against a professional development. Let's get started.

They say experience is the best teacher. And that's why I'm never afraid to try new things. My thinking is that even if I don't understand something, or it's not for me, the experience might benefit me at some point down the road. I feel that way when it comes to learning to drive a car with a manual transmission.

I remember struggling to learn how to shift gears when I was young. After my first car, I never owned another stick shift again. However, that experience taught me well. If I'm borrowing someone's car or renting a truck for something, I never have to worry when they ask me if I want an automatic or a shift.

Quality professional development is crucial when it comes to moving teachers toward growth. And one way to improve professional development practices is through alignment with adult learning theories, particularly Malcolm Knowles' Six Assumptions of Adult Learning. If teachers are able to make connections between the professional learning classroom practices and the skills found in adult learning theories, everyone wins.

Also, as districts create learning opportunities for their teachers, aligning the six assumptions with professional development will impact everything teachers and support staff do in the classroom. The first step is to identify areas of existing alignment. Next, to identify areas of misalignment. And finally, look for areas for enhancement or improvement.

This analysis is meant to be reflective in nature, thus potentially could lead to solutions and recommendations. There are no wrong answers.

Knowles' second assumption is called the experience of the adult learner. And it states that as people mature, they accumulate a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for their own learning. Let's go ahead and conduct an analysis of this assumption. We'll set up a professional development situation to analyze.

A district has decided to move from using Microsoft Word to Google Docs, and has purchased Chromebooks. They have set up unconference format for the initial professional development. Teachers sign up for three 45-minute long sessions on all things Google.

Our first step is to find out if this professional development plan aligns with assumption number two by asking and answering these questions. Are teachers are able to share their experiences? In this format, absolutely. Next, are learners able to apply and use their experiences to the professional development? Because it's an unconference, the answer is emphatically yes.

The very structure of an unconference not only allows for participants to draw on their experiences, but relies on it. And finally, the planners of this unconference need to remember to provide time for participants to reflect on their experience, so that they can incorporate these reflections into the new learning.

Step two is when we ask if there are any areas of misalignment, meaning that the assumption has been violated or not applied. The questions that lead us to find out are listed here. In the case of a participant-driven unconference, nothing needs to change. The learner is encouraged to draw upon, use, and even share their past experiences in order to connect with the new learning.

The third step is to ask if there is any way to enhance the alignment. This might mean that you are in a situation that the approach is fine, but the design could be altered. A great question to ask is that if anything needs to be changed in order for optimal learning to happen. This is the best asked following a learning session in order to improve future sessions.

The final question addresses what needs to change in order to allow the learner to share their experience. With the example of the unconference, the answer is simply more time. Speaking of time, it's time to go ahead and summarize this lesson.

We started by introducing the importance of aligning professional development with adult learning theories in general. We looked at the three steps-- identifying alignment, identifying misalignment, and looking for areas of enhancing alignment. We did this using Knowles' assumption number two, which is experience. I then modeled an analysis of a professional learning opportunity using a series of questions.

And now for today's food for thought. Experience is what you get while looking for something else. Think about this quote from Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. "What experiences, whether intentional or not, do you bring with you to new learning situations?"

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. As always, thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Analyze Professional Development for Alignment to Knowle's Assumption 2: Experience of the Adult Learner."

(00:00-00:12) Intro

(00:13-00:44) Learning To Drive

(00:45-01:35) The Steps

(01:36-01:50) Assumption 2

(01:51-02:50) Step 1

(02:51-03:16) Step 2

(03:17-03:48) Step 3

(03:49-04:44) Food For Thought/Summary

Additional Resources

Seven Principles for Effective Professional Development for Diverse Schools

This Intercultural Development Research Association article by Abelardo Villarreal outlines seven helpful considerations for professional development design. In particular, Villarreal stresses the importance of aligning activities to Knowles' Adult Learning Theory.

Professional Learning Communities: Professional Development Strategies That Improve Instruction

This guidebook focuses on professional development strategies to improve student achievement. Inherent in the design is the alignment to adult learning theory. The guidebook is a useful tool for any school embarking on the PLC journey.