About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4330-4332
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.1151

Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain


F. Wilson

Saint Leo University (UNITED STATES)
What is the best method to engage adult learners in the classroom to ensure concept mastery and effective application? In academia, teachers are charged with producing learners who have specific skills that can be utilized in the work environment. The key is getting adult learners to a place of active learning and engagement. Knowles recognized there is a stark difference between teaching an adult in comparison to a child. Traditional models that focused on child learning simply were not effective for adult learners. Because of Malcolm Knowles, the adult learning theory (andragogy) was popularized. Knowles explained five skills that an adult learner possesses in contrast to traditional students: "self-concept, experience, readiness to learn, orientation to learning, and motivation to learn" (Pappas, 2013, para. 6). These skills provide a template for educators to utilize when creating classroom experiences.

Educators must be mindful of an adult learners’ focus on implementation and self-guidance. These traits promote an independence factor that can be capitalized on to energize the classroom environment. Also, Knowles presented four principles for adult learning: “involvement, active learning, immediate relevance, and problem centered" (Pappas, 2013, para. 8). When considering the characteristics of an adult learner, it is easy to connect an independent component for classroom management. To make this connection stronger, the flipped classroom can be implemented to address the principles noted by Knowles to support adult learning characteristics.

Traditional classroom management presents the teacher as a lecturer with some time focused on active learning activities. As noted earlier, this model does not create self-directed learning nor does it easily create opportunities for immediate use. This model provides opportunities for passive learning and disengagement. So, the question is: what is the best method to engage adult learners? One option is the flipped classroom.

The flipped classroom gained traction in the academic world in 2007 when two teachers, Bergmann & Sams, took a leap to change their classroom delivery and management styles. The flipped classroom was born out of a need to fill student learning and understanding gaps. This ingenious model encapsulates all the principles of andragogy and supports the characteristics of adult learners. There are three main components to the flipped model: video lecture, initial classroom overview, and activities (Bergmann & Sams, 2012). The steps are directly connected to Knowles’ principles for adult learning. Students can work independently by viewing the video and recording notes and areas of confusion. During class time, a video overview and activities are conducted which provide an opportunity to immediately apply learned concepts in a safe environment. This practice allows students to receive assistance that will resolve confusion. Fusing Knowles’ andragogy model with the flipped classroom is a clever method to engage and empower adult learners.

[1] Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Eugene, Or: ISTE.
[2] Pappas, C. (2013). The Adult Learning Theory - Andragogy - of Malcolm Knowles. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles
author = {Wilson, F.},
series = {10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-6957-7},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2017.1151},
url = {https://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2017.1151},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {4330-4332}}
AU - F. Wilson
SN - 978-84-697-6957-7/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2017.1151
PY - 2017
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2017
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2017 Proceedings
SP - 4330
EP - 4332
ER -
F. Wilson (2017) ENGAGING ADULT LEARNERS: THE FLIPPED CLASSROOM, ICERI2017 Proceedings, pp. 4330-4332.