Who is the Adult Learner? - Southern Regional Education Board - define the term adult learner

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define the term adult learner - The Basics of Adult Learning


An adult learner, or more commonly, a mature student, is a person who is older and is involved in forms of learning. Adult learners fall in a specific criteria of being experienced, and do not always have a high school diploma. Many of the adult learners go back to school to finish a degree, or earn a new one. In 1967, Knowles made use of the term "androgogy" to explain his theory of adult education. Then after consulting with Merriam-Webster, he corrected the spelling of the term to "andragogy" and continued to make use of the term to explain his multiple ideas about adult learning.

Members of a college class who are far older than the rest of the students. These old-enough-to-be-your-parents aged classmates typically sit in the front of the class, arrive drastically early with noisome big-gulp sized iced coffees and tend to ask belaboring and basic questions. Due to mass layoffs and a degree-demanding job market, these masses of Baby Boomers opt to return to college. Adult learners have a different approach to learning. By the time you reach adulthood, Continuing education is a broad term. In the most general sense, any time you return to a classroom of any kind to learn something new, you are continuing your education.

Adult learners are known by a wide variety of names — including non-traditional students, adult students, returning adults, adult returners, mature learners and many more — and they have an even wider variety of cultural and educational backgrounds, abilities, responsibilities and experiences.