Adult Learning Theory Paper Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 27 November 2016

Adult Learning Theory Paper


The article “Engaging the Adult Learner Generational Mix” examines the adult learning through different generations. The author focuses on surveys that were given on two graduate classes. Some adult learners were in online classes, while others were in a hybrid class. The surveys were done in three different locations. In this article the author analyses three different generations’ Readiness to Learn, Orientation to Learning, and Motivation to Learn. The three generations of adult learners that are being examined are the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennia generation. In the Readiness to Learn section the author find that majority of the time when adult learners has enrolled in a course it is to benefit them in finding an answer in improving themselves. Adult learners of the millennial generation had the absences of interest or showed a specific need to know information. Generation X needed little prompting to sway them to learn.

However, they need to feel that connection with other classmates and professors. The Baby Boomers also had a lack of readiness, mostly because they didn’t understand the material and it was unfamiliar to them. With the Orientation to Learning section the author find that the adults wanted to see how the information they are leaning applies to their life. When the Millennial generation can’t relate the information to their experiences they become disconnected. Generation X always tries to relate the new information that they are learning to their personal life. By doing this it make the course interesting to them. It is easy to see when a Baby Boomer is oriented with a subject.

When they are oriented with a subject their answers are well thought out and are lengthy. For adult learners motivation to learn is external but more internal. Internally adult learners want to enhance self-esteem, gain confidence, or improve their lifestyle. The millennial has very little motivation about the class material; it is the instructors and classmates that motivate them. This is similar with Generation X adult learners; however the Generation X learners wants to be part of discussions and class activities. The Baby boomers are motivated when they are allowed to show what they have learned in the course.


“Engaging the Adult Learner Generational Mix” by Laura Holyoke and Erick Larson was had great information. This article allows students to think about their generation and how they learn. It also helps instructors or professors to understand what are reasons that adult learners are in their course and how to motivate this students to do their best. This article is not just useful to college and university this is also use for trainers of workshops, training programs, or personal development. In this current economy adults have to learn new skills to gain employment. Knowing this, any type of educator will find this article useful. Sometimes it is so easy to put all adults in the same group.

The authors states that to establish an environment for training and educational programs the educators or trainer must acknowledge students learning styles, values and what generation they come from (Holyoke & Larson, 2009). It is good to see how the culture of which the country was in effect the learning of adults. The three different generations co-exist in the workforce so it is logical that they would also exist in a higher learning environment.

It is so true what the authors say about adult learners, when they stare adult learners experience a need to learn something in order to cope more satisfyingly with real life task or problems (Holyoke & Larson, 2009). Adults seem to already have a lot of responsibilities, so it is understandable for adult learners to go in to courses wanting specific answers to help improve their lives. Adults do not want to learn anything that is not going to benefit them in the present or the future, “Adults are life-, mission-, or problem-centered in their route to learning” (Holyoke & Larson, 2009). Knowing more about adult learners’ generation will help the engage the students learning, thus benefiting both student and educator.

Reference Page

Holyoke, L., & Larson, E. (2009). Engage the Adult Learner Gerational Mix. Journal of Adult Education, 12-21. Sullivan, L. (2008). Meeting the
Challenges of Teaching Multiple Generations in the Same classroom. Boston Unversity School of Public Health, 1-38.

Free Adult Learning Theory Paper Essay Sample


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 27 November 2016

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