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Centering Race Within Adult Education Theory in the United States  

Sydney D. Richardson

Higher education in the United States operates as it was originally designed: to benefit traditional-aged, middle-and upper-class White men. People of color and White women were meant to adapt to this structure and persevere through the higher education structure in order to succeed (i.e., graduate). This structure continues to exist. Institutions were originally designed for one student demographic; any student who does not fit this image is presented with barriers and obstacles as they matriculate, especially when the student is nontraditional (i.e., adult) and a person of color. As universities take on the challenge of creating diverse, inclusive campuses, one cannot help but realize how far education has to go to create this utopia for racially minoritized adult students. When reviewing many popular theories of adult education, it becomes easy to see that andragogy, self-directed learning, and transformative learning were not created with the Black and Brown student managing nonacademic adversities in mind. The theories were designed based on the ideal adult student at the time of development: White, young, middle or upper class, and needing education in the classroom. This ideal is very different from the Black or Brown student facing discrimination while walking to class due to societal microaggressions and preconceived stereotypes. However, reviewing adult education theories using components of critical race theory as a framework makes it possible to understand how racially minoritized adult students are at a disadvantage on college campuses.

Article

Experiential Learning and Education in Management  

D. Christopher Kayes and Anna B. Kayes

Experiential learning describes the process of learning that results from gathering and processing information through direct engagement with the world. In contrast to behavioral approaches to learning, which describe learning as behavioral changes that result from the influence of external factors such as rewards and punishments, learning from experience places the learner at the center of the learning process. Experiential learning has conceptual roots in John Dewey’s pragmatism. One of the most influential approaches to experiential learning in management and management education is David Kolb’s experiential learning theory (ELT) and the learning cycle that describes learning as a four-phase process of direct experience, reflection, abstract thinking, and experimentation. Experiential learning has been influential in management education as well as adult education because it addresses a number of concerns with traditional education and emphasizes the role of the learner in the learning process. It has been adopted by over 30 disciplines across higher education and has been extensively applied to management, organizations, and leadership development. The popularity of the experiential learning approach is due to many factors, including the growing discontent with traditional education, the desire to create more inclusive and active learning environments, and a recognition of the role that individual differences plays in learning. A renewed interest in experiential learning has brought about new and expanded conceptualizations of what it means to learn from experience. Variations on experiential learning include critical approaches to learning, brain science, and dual-processing approaches. While the term “experiential learning” is used by scholars to describe a specific philosophy or theory of learning, it often refers to many management education activities, including the use of experiences outside the classroom such as study abroad, internships, and service learning. Experiential learning also includes educational “experiential” learning activities inside the classroom. Within organizations, experiential learning provides an underlying conceptual framework for popular learning and leadership development programs such as emotional intelligence, strengths-based approaches, and appreciative inquiry. There is a growing recognition that experiential learning is the basis for many management practices such as strategy creation, research and development, and decision-making. Applications of experiential learning and education in management include simulations and exercises, learning style and educator roles, learning as a source of resilience, learning attitudes and other learning-based experiences, learning flexibility, cross-cultural factors, and team learning. Emerging research interest is also found in the relationship between experiential learning and expertise, intuition, mastery, and professional and career development, decision-making, and judgment in organizations.

Article

Adult Learners  

Mark Tennant

Adult learning is described as learning undertaken by adults in natural educational settings as opposed to the experimental settings often undertaken in psychological research on learning. As such, the theory and research on adult learning referred to in this article primarily draws on applied educational research reported in adult education journals. Much of this research is informed by psychological and social research and theory, and this is acknowledged in each of six adult learning themes outlined in this article. These themes are self-directed learning, experience and learning, learning styles, the development of identity in the adult years, intellectual and cognitive development, and transformative learning. While these themes focus on adult learning in a general sense, our understanding of adult learning also needs to be seen in relation to the context in question; contexts such as health, the third age, indigenous knowledge, literacy and numeracy, the environment, disability, community education, gender equity, race, and migrant and refugee education. The literature on adult learning offers very few prescriptive bridges linking research, theory, and practice. This is partly because there are competing theories posing different questions and offering opposing interpretations of research findings, but it is also because the purpose and function of education and learning is a contested field. In these circumstances the best approach for practitioners is to interrogate and improve their practice through engaging with research findings, competing models, and competing theories. In this way they are aware of the variables at play and can formulate practices that are consistent with their educational aims and purposes. The link between research, theory and practice is conceptual rather than prescriptive, with practitioners interrogating and improving their practice by engaging with the issues and the competing claims of theory and research.