Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach PLCs and Adult Learning Theory
Take your pick:
PLCs and Adult Learning Theory

PLCs and Adult Learning Theory

Author: Katie Hou

In this lesson you will learn about the six principles of adult learning theory.

In this lesson, you will learn how adult learning principles apply to the PLC.

See More

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Thank you for joining me today for PLCs and Adult Learning Theory. Today, we're going to discuss what are the six principles of adult learning theory and how can I apply the principles of adult learning theory to PLC.

OK, let's review. Adult Learning Theory was actually originally called Andragogy. And this originated in Europe in the 1950s. Malcolm Knowles, an American practitioner and theorist of adult education, updated it in the 1970s. And he basically summarized that part of being an effective educator involves understanding how adults learn best. This includes using approaches that are problem-based and that are collaborative rather than didactic. It's also important with adult learning that there's a strong partnership between the teacher and the learner. Additionally, he came up with six principles of adult learning. Let's look at those now.

To begin with, he said that adults are internally motivated and self-directed. They bring life experiences and knowledge to the learning experience. They're goal-oriented and relevancy-oriented. They're practical, and they like to be respected.

This example was actually first created by Knowles in 1984. We're usually one of the examples created by the person who updated and kind of coined the principles of adult learning theory. He says that you have to have a rationale. So you have to be able to explain the specific reasons that things are being taught. So in terms of computer training, this is like certain commands, functions, et cetera.

Instructions should be task oriented rather than memorization. So learning activities should be in the context of common tasks to be performed by others. So we're not reinventing the wheel. We're teaching them about computers by having them research, something they would normally go to the library to research, or by having them type of letter, something they would already normally write.

It's also important to take into account the wide range of different backgrounds of learners. And then the learning materials should allow for different levels and types considering the different backgrounds. This is really just differentiation. This is what good teachers are doing anyway.

And then you want to allow the learners to discover knowledge for themselves, especially since adult learners tend to be self-directed. We want to allow for them to have discovery while the teacher acts more as a guide.

Collaborative work and PLCs is influenced by adult learning theory. And it's important that we consider these principles when facilitating or offering professional development, because professional development is continuing learning. So we have to keep in mind that our adult learners, they're going to want to have a rationale. They're going to be goal-oriented. They're going to be relevancy-oriented. They don't want to be lectured to. They want to have tasks. They want to discover learning on their own. And a really good way of doing this might be assigning study groups as a part of PD.

Do you see adult learning theory being incorporated into your PD? And do you see any of the six principles in your own learning? I know, for example, the relevancy thing is very important to me. I don't want to do something that isn't relevant to my job. So what do you see in your own learning?

Today, we talked about what the six principles of adult learning theory were and how we can apply those principles to our PLCs. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skillset. Thank you for joining me and happy teaching.

Notes on “PLCs and Adult Learning Theory”


(00:00-00:12) Introduction

(00:13-00:55) Adult Learning Theory Review

(00:56-01:11) The 6 Principles of Adult Learning

(01:12-02:28) Adult Learning Theory Example

(02:29-03:01) Adult Learning Theory and PLCs

(03:02-03:27) Reflection

(03:28-03:58) Conclusion

Additional Resources

The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – Infographic

This infographic ties together important principles to consider when working with adult learners. These principles are important when designing professional development.

Professional Learning Communities: Professional Development Strategies That Improve Instruction

This guidebook connects adult learning theory with the application of PLCs in a school setting. In particular, this guidebook focuses on professional development strategies. See page 10 for strategies and tools.