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Adult Learning Theory: How Effectively Do Adult Education Programs Contribute To Lifelong Learning?

Dipti Mandalia

Jon Marbach

Payal Prabhu

Progress Report: March 12th, 2002

      Firstly, we have refined the project's focus. As mentioned in the project proposal, we are planning to explore the learning patterns and attitudes that differ between students who are enrolled in the university at the "normal" age (18-24) and students who come back to school after spending some amount of time in a career or otherwise garnering life experience. In particular we want to explore two aspects of learning in the students who return to school after several years of working: the motivational aspect that draws the individual back to school, and the kind of instruction medium these students prefer. For each of these criteria we have certain prior notions. We believe that the major forms of motivation for returning to school are career demands, a need to change careers, and self-improvement. Our notion of preferred instruction medium is that these students will prefer classrooms that are more collaborative, ones that involve active participation and include hands-on experience - essentially, classes that are more similar to the real-life situations these students have encountered.

      Secondly, once we had decided the main issues of concern - motivation and instruction medium - we arranged a meeting with two administrators from the School of Continuing Education: Lou Vang and Armando Pares. We first inquired if they had conducted any surveys of this kind. However, to our surprise, the School of Continuing Education has not done any surveys in this area, aside from the standard FCQ questionnaire. With Lou and Armando's guidance, we have chosen three course categories Computer Applications, Personal Enrichment, and Boulder Evening Credit. Within these categories, the courses that we have chosen to observe and survey are as follows:

  1. Computer Applications - Advanced HTML: In this class we expect students to have come back to school for career-related reasons. It is our assumption that most of them will have taken this class either because their current work demands additional skills or because they need to change careers. Hence with this class we will be able to delve into the extrinsic motivational factors. Also, the students from this class will most likely have concrete ideas as to how they would like a class of this type to be structured.

  2. Personal Enrichment - Creative Writing: We believe that this class will consist of students who are seeking personal growth or just looking to explore a topic of interest. Therefore it is likely that these students may prefer a more open class structure than might be offered within the other two categories. We hope that these students' questionnaire responses will give more insight into the intrinsic motivations behind their learning.

  3. Boulder Evening Credit - Communications and Society: An approved Arts and Sciences core course, this class should contain a mix of students - both from the School of Continuing Education and the general student population. Based on this we would expect a wider range of answers to the survey. This group may provide the most interesting results.

Currently we intend to finalize the questionnaire this week, and we have arranged to attend these classes and administer the survey in the following week.

Initial Project Description | Project Home Pages

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