Could not download file: This paper is available to authorised users only.


C. Prunty

Dublin Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
The First Year Experience of the Mature Student: Formative Feedback - Pearl or Peril of Wisdom?

This paper explores the position of the mature student going to college, by examining the issues real or imagined which face a student who decides to go to college. Can one ‘teach an old dog, new tricks,’ and how does one as a teacher go about it? What is going through the mind of a mature student surrounded by a class of 18 year olds? What brings a mature student to this situation? How does such a student change his or her life in order to embrace this new challenge? How, as a teacher can I justify the sacrifices made by mature students by making their first year relevant and meaningful?

Examination of the position of mature students experiencing the first year of an undergraduate course requires historical, international, national and institutional contextualisation.

From earliest recorded time all of the great thinkers and teachers imparted their knowledge primarily to adults rather than children. Malcolm S. Knowles (who is credited with the introduction of the andragogy concept into the field of learning in the USA) in his chapter Adult Learning: Theory and Practice (1990), outlines the history of some of the best known teachers of the past. From Confucius in ancient China to Aristotle and Plato in ancient Greece, Cicero and Euclid in ancient Rome to the Hebrew Prophets and Jesus, all were teachers of adults not children.
Knowles clarifies the development of the concepts of teachers and teaching. He shows that following the fall of Rome in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD any writings of the great ancient teachers were saved in European monasteries but forgotten for centuries. He explains that between the 7th and 12th centuries the organisation of schools for children through and by monastic institutions initially brought about a new development in the perception of learning and teaching while utilising the previously forgotten knowledge and teaching methods of the ancients for teaching adults.