Adult Learning Methods

Part of my ETAD 898 study in leadership was to examine my own philosophy of adult learning.  Here’s a quick overview of the resources that supported my reflection.

  • Chapter Two – Where Do I Fit In?  Articulating a Personal Philosophy (2015)
    • Creative Clinical Teaching in the Health Professions by Sherri Melrose, Caroline Park, Beth Perry used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 international license.
    • This was a straightforward chapter that highlighted the five key adult education philosophies (liberal, behavourist, progressive, humanist and radical) along with the five key perspectives of teaching adults (Transmission, Apprenticeship, Developmental, Nurturing and Social Reform).  You can take the Teaching Perspectives Inventory to begin your reflections. Melrose, Park and Perry explained the significance of knowing your own philosophy so you better understand where you are going and how you are getting there.  They also provided suggestions for writing your own philosophy of education.
    • I appreciated the inclusion of the Philosophy of Adult Education Survey as it was helpful in beginning my reflection.  As Melrose, Park and Perry reminded your philosophy of adult education will evolve with your teaching experiences.  It is interesting to look back as a teacher and note how your beliefs have evolved.  The value in writing a philosophy of teaching is that it provides an opportunity for ongoing reflection.
  •  If you are interested in learning more about your personal style of learning, the Canfield Learning Styles Inventory offered insight into content, conditions, modes and expectancy areas of learning. It’s a straighforward survey and your results are promptly emailed to you with a detailed explanation of your preferences.  It was a great way to start reflecting on my personal style of learning.
  • Philosophies of Adult Education
    • Based on the work of Lorraine Zinn in Chapter 3 of Identifying Your Philosophical Orientation of Adult Learning Methods:  A Guide for Effective Instruction (1990).
    • The authors of this website added to the tables to provide more examples of details of Zinn’s work.  The resulting tables graphically organize key information.
  • Guba, E. & Lincoln, Y. (1994) Chapter 6: Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp.105-117). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    • Guba & Lincoln delve into the major competing paradigms of qualitative research by focusing on Positivism, Postpositivism, Critical Theory and Constructivism.  By examining the ontology, epistemology and methodology of each, Guba and Lincoln explained the nature of each perspective and charged the researcher to know before they begin their inquiry.
    • This was an intense read and challenged you to think about the nature of how we come to know the world around us.  While it provided a helpful graphic organizer, it enabled me to start my philosophic reflection.  Deeper understanding of the paradigms would be fostered by further discussion and follow up reading.
  • Conti, G. J. (2007). Identifying Your Educational Philosophy: Development of the Philosophies Held by Instructors of Lifelong-learners (PHIL). MPAEA Journal of Adult Education, XXXVI(1), 19-35. Retrieved from
    • Conti reminded of the dangers of eclecticism leading to inconsistent behaviours.  He also provided a 2 page overview of the different philosophies, which acted as quick reference to learning more.
  • Kumar, A. (n.d.). Philosophical Background of Adult and Lifelong Learning. Retrieved from
    • Kumar provided a basic explanation and overview of Zinn’s work through both text and graphical ogranization.
  • University College Dublin. (2016). Open Educational Resources of UCD Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from UCD Dublin:

    • Provided a straightforward overview of Constructivism and Social Constructivism.
  • Adult Education Philosophies Practiced By Agricultural Education Teachers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia – C. Buckingham.
    • Journal of Agricultural Education
    • Volume 43, Number 3
    • pp. 37-48
    • Buckingham offered a concise summary of Zinn’s Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory in the context of her study of philosophies practiced by agricultural teachers.

Additional resources referenced in my final reflection.



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