Module 1: Adult Learning


Basic Competency

Master how to implement adult learning


  1. Understand the principles of adult learning

  2. Analyzing the characteristics of adult learning

  3. Determining strategies, teaching methods or techniques that apply adult learning

  4. Evaluating adult learning


Adult Learning

  1. Principles of adult learning

  2. Characteristics of adult learning

  3. Strategies, teaching methods or techniques that apply in adult learning

  4. Adult learning evaluation

Learning Activities

1. Opening and workshop information

Time: 10 minutes Material: Slide PPT Activity:

  1. Facilitator welcomes participants to the training; opening invocation

  2. Information on code of conduct during training

  3. Facilitator explains the topics and goals of session one

2. QA Session about Adult Learning Characteristic

Time: 25 minutes Material: Slide PPT Activity:

  1. Facilitator puts a question about the definition and characteristics of an adult

  2. Facilitator explains the definition of adult learning

  3. Facilitator puts a question about adult learning characteristics and principles.

3. Group Discussion: Adult Learning Strategy

Time: 25 minutes Material: Plano Paper Activity:

  1. Facilitator asks participants to each count 1 to 4 one after another and divides them into 4 groups. Those mentioning same number form one group.

  2. Each group elects its chief and secretary

  3. The chief presides at discussion on adult learning strategies, the outcome of which is written down on flipchart paper by the secretary.

4. Group Presentation

Time: 20 minutes Material: Slide PPT/Plano Paper Activity:

  1. Facilitator asks the chief of each group to move forward and take part in a draw to decide which group is responsible as presenter.

  2. Facilitator asks other groups to put questions or give comments to the presenter group; Facilitator leads the Q&A session

  3. Facilitator mentions adult learning strategies not yet mentioned.

5. Pair Discussion

Time: 20 minutes Material: HVS Paper Activity:

  1. Facilitator asks participants to find a partner

  2. Each group of two is asked to discuss how to evaluate adults (adult earning evaluation)

  3. Result of discussion is displayed before the class

  4. With the sound of music as the background, facilitator randomly throws a small ball at a participant who will then throw it to another group. The group who is in possession of the ball when the music stops will become presenter.

  5. Facilitator asks other groups to put questions or give comments to the presenter. Facilitator leads the Q&A session.

  6. Facilitator further explains adult learning evaluation

6. Reflection and Closing

Time: 5 minutes Material: - Activity:

Facilitator asks one of the participants to reflect on the proceeding of the first session.

Reading Material


The participants of the training in Scenario Development for Contingency Planning using OpenStreetMap (OSM) and QGIS/ InaSAFE software are adults. Their learning characteristics are unique and different from those of children. As such, it is crucial that trainers learn about adult learning characteristics. The understanding of adult learning characteristics is needed to determine compatible and effective training strategies for training participants.

Adult Learning or Education is known as Andragogy, the antonym of Pedagogy (children education). The term andragogy is derived from latin words Andro (Adult) and agogos which means to lead or guide, hence the term andragogy can be defined as the science of how to lead or guide adults, in other words: the science of teaching adults.

Basically education is a process of facilitating a person to search and find the knowledge needed in life through learning, rendering all human activities potential to be used as part of learning process. Andragogy strategy stimulates adults to engage in the process of searching and finding the knowledge they need in life. Adults learn in a continuous way from their experience.

1. Adult Learning Characteristics

Adult education is an endeavor aimed at self development made by individuals without legal forces, without making this endeavor their main activity (Reeves, Fansler, and Houle in Supriyanto, 2007). According to UNESCO (Townsend Coles 1977 in Lanundi (1982), adult education is defined as the entire body of organized educational processes, whatever the content, level and method, whether formal or otherwise, whether they prolong or replace initial education in schools, colleges and universities as well as in apprenticeship, whereby persons regarded as adult by the society to which they belong develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge, improve their technical or professional qualifications and bring about changes in their attitudes or behavior in the twofold perspective of full personal development and participation in balanced and independent social, economic and cultural development. Meanwhile, according to Bryson in Supriyanto (2007) Adult education comprises all educational activities in which adults engage in their daily life using only a part of their time and energy in order to gain additional intellectual knowledge.

The definition above shows that:
  • Adults are normally capable of self-directing,

  • Adults have varied experiences,

  • Adults are prepared to learn as a consequence of their position in transition of development,

  • Adults prefer problem-centerd or performance-centered learning.

  • The following are complete characteristics of adults:

  1. Adults have the ability to self-direct.

  2. Adults have a lot of experience which functions as learning process for them.

  3. Adults are prepared to learn everything they need to learn; their experience is built from problem solving or finding solutions to daily tasks.

  4. Orientation of learning: Education is a development process of self ability; knowledge and skills are applied for a better life. Learning orientation is focused on activities.

The characteristics of adult learning according to Soedomo (1989) in Supriyadi (2007):

  1. Adult learning facilitates exchanges of opinions, demands and values

  2. It facilitates a two-way communication

  3. Learning atmosphere expected is one that is fun and challenging

  4. It prioritizes the roles of learning participants

  5. Adults learn when their opinion is respected

  6. Adults learn in a unique way

  7. There needs to be a trust between mentor and learners

  8. Opinions are generally varied among adults

  9. Adults have varied intelligence

  10. Various learning methods may emerge

  11. Adults learn to know their strong points and shortcomings

  12. Learning orientation for adults is focused on real life

  13. Adults self–motivate

The characteristics of adult learning can be elaborated as follows:

  1. Adults learn because of demands in their work, for self-development or the desire to enhance their role. In contrast with children who tend to receive learning material conveyed by their teacher, adults learn something when it meets their work demands, is crucial for self-development and their role enhancement. To this end, in adult learning, it is important to explain to adults taking part in learning process the relations between material presented and the demands in their work, roles and their needs of self development.

  2. Adults prefer to learn things that are practical, can immediately be applied and bring benefits in their life. Adults generally have rich theoretical knowledge, hence the needs to have learning materials for adults that are practical and applicable.

  3. In the process of learning, adults want to be treated as a mature person/ to be respected.

  4. Adults have rich experience and insight and learn new things based on their experience. Every adult person generally has a lot of experience especially in the field s/he has been focusing on. When engaging adults in learning new things, it is better to build on their experience.

  5. Adults learn by sharing their opinion with others. As they are rich in experience, sharing opinion is one of effective ways for them to learn.

  6. Adults question why they have to learn something before they start to learn it. If children tend to receive certain topics without questioning, adults need to know whether something they are about to learn will bring them direct benefits.

  7. Adults focus on problem solving when learning; their orientation is not in the learning material. When they find what they learn suitable for solving problems they face, they learn well.

  8. Adults like an atmosphere of learning that promotes self-confidence. This is related to their desire to be respected. Start with simple things to increase their confidence.

  9. Adults need longer time to learn as they need to validate new information. When they receive information, they will validate it based on their experience.

  10. Adults will continue learning process when their learning experience is satisfactory.

The difference between Pedagogy and Andragogy




Trainee’s self concept


Ability in self-directing

Function of trainee’s experience

  1. Little experience

  2. Experience as point of departure in building experience

  1. A lot of experience

  2. Experience as learning source

Learning preparedness

  1. Uniformity based on age

  2. Organized in a curriculum

  1. Prepared to learn what is needed

  2. Based on problem solving or finding solution to daily task

Learning orientation

  1. Education as a process of conveying knowledge

  2. The knowledge will bring benefit in the future

  3. Orientation to learning subjects

  1. Education as a process to develop selfability

  2. Knowledge and skills are applied for a better life

  3. Orientation is focused on activities

2. Principle of Adult Learning

In adult learning, there are principles that differentiate it from other types of education. These principles can create an effective and efficient learning atmosphere. The principles can be explained as follows:

  1. Principle of partnership: The principle of partnership guarantees a forged partnership between facilitator and participants. The participants are not treated as students but as learning partners. The relationship created is not one of giving orders but of assistance in that trainers will put their best effort to assist training participants.

  2. Principle of real experience: This principle guarantees that adult learning and education is conducted in real life situation. Adult learning and education activities are not conducted in a class or simulated situation, but in a real situation.

  3. Principle of togetherness: This principle requires the use of group activities in adult learning and education to guarantee maximum interaction between participants facilitated by the facilitator.

  4. Principle of participation: This principle seeks to encourage maximum participants’ involvement in learning process, facilitated by the participants themselves. In adult learning and education activities all participants are to take active part in the whole process of learning from planning, implementation and evaluation of learning activities.

  5. Principle of self-reliance: This principle encourages participants independence in seeking learning goals. Adult learning seeks to produce independent human being able to play the role of subject or actor, hence the need for self-reliance principle.

  6. Principle of sustainability: This principle guarantees continuity between the material that is being learned at present, that has been learned and that will be learned in the future. With this principle, the concept of life long education in adult learning will materialize.

  7. Principle of benefit: This principle guarantees that what is learned in adult education is compatible with the needs felt by participants. Adults are prepared to learn when they realize there are needs to be addressed. This awareness will stimulate the emergence of motivation to learn among adults and a sense of preparedness will emerge as they feel they are responsible for this as an adult.

  8. Principle of preparedness: This principle guarantees participants’ mental and physical preparedness to be able to take part in learning activities. Adults will never be able to participate in learning process if they are not yet prepared (either physically and metally) to do it.

  9. Principle of locality: This principle guarantees the learned material is locally specific. Generalisation of learning outcome in adult learning will be dificult to do. The outcome in adult learning generally comprises specific abilities to solve participants’ current problem in their respective locality. Such skill can not be generalized as a theory or principle that can be applied anywhere, anytime. The present learning outcome might not be useful to solve similar problems in two or three years’ time. This outcome will also not be applicable anywhere and is only suitable for participants respective locality as it is processed from participants experience.

  10. Principle of integration: This principle guarantees integration of adult learning material. Learning plan in adult education must cover materials that are non-partial and integrated in nature, forming a unity.

3. Adult Learning Strategy

Identification of learning strategies is based on the objective to achieve. Based on this, there are two types of learning strategies i.e. : (a) the strategy that is designed to assist people in addressing their past experience in a new way, and (b) the strategy that is designed to bring about new knowledge and skills (enrichment of experience).

  1. The process of addressing past experience: This strategy is employed for training participants who already possess the knowledge and skills relating to training material to be conveyed. The role of facilitators here is to assist participants in making generalization by exploring participants experience and giving feedbacks. Participants are expected to have a big role in terms of expressing their experience and opinion, analyzing their experience, exploring alternatives and benefits. The goals will be reached when the atmosphere is free of threats and when participants feel the need to find new approaches in addressing their past problems.

  2. The process of enriching experience: This strategy is employed for participants who have yet the knowledge and skills that are presented in the training. Here, facilitators role is to provide new data and concept for the participants to absorb and practice. In this case, it is necessary to have clarity in terms of how to best present the training and motivate participants to identify the relevance of the new material in their life.

Based on the aims elaborated above, we now know that there are two types of adults in adult learning i.e. adults with prior knowledge and adults without prior knowledge. But it is necessary to remember that adults already possess several characteristics that play a role in determining the best strategies for them. In general, adult learning is expected to involve participatory method i.e. active participation of training participants as well as other arrangements such as training material, date and time of training, etc. Principally, in participatory method facilitators don’t act as teacher and lecture all the time, and involve participants in every activity. This strategy can be further explained as follows:

a. Practical, problem-centered learning

One of the characteristics of adults is that they learn through problem solving and are not lesson-oriented. They learn well when they find what they learn during a training can be used to solve their problems. To this end, strategies to be used are as follows: before the start of the learning process, facilitators must identify trainees’ needs and problems. It is better to start with identifying authentic problems of training participants in their daily life. Should the facilitators feel the need to introduce new theories or information, they need to ensure that these theories and information are related to problems faced by trainees and real life examples. In problem solving oriented training, methods that can be employed are e.g. Q&A session and discussion. The latter can be divided into several steps:

  1. Group members are aware of the existence of problems

  2. Individually, members find ideas on how best to solve the problems

  3. Group members search for facts or reflect on their experience to support their ideas.

  4. Discussion among group members on how to solve the problems

  5. Group members conclude their discussion.

With regards to practical learning, adults also need practical activities. Material presented must be practiced to be instilled properly, the appropriate methods being inter alia demonstration, simulation and practicing. For example, to reach competency in how to use GPS and input additional data in OSM, it would render a training meaningless when participants only know and understand how to use GPS and add OSM data without demonstration by facilitators, simulation by some of participants and practical session involving all participants. What is necessary with regards to this competency is how to turn on GPS and the initial GPS setting.

b. Adults prefer a learning process that integrates new information into their experience

There are two aspects of adult learning i.e. the process of addressing their past experience and the process of enriching experience. Therefore, learning process for adults must assist them in exploring their experience in order to learn new things. A cooperative group learning can also help them to share opinion with others. Furthermore, we need to help them understand new information, the proper methods of which would be inter alia Q&A session and discussion. For example, in presenting the lesson on “How to Operate OSM”, it is better for the facilitators to not lecture on:

  1. How to visit OpenStreetMap site,

  2. How to navigate maps,

  3. How to save Images from OSMan map,

  4. How to create OpenStreetMap account,

  5. OSM Map Editing.

Rather, the facilitators need to explore the degree of participants experience or knowledge on the subject through Q&A session, after which a discussion follows focusing on difficulties encountered on the subject. The facilitators then can provide additional material that they feel needed by the participants taking into account their prior experience and knowledge.

c. Adults prefer a learning process that enhances their self-esteem

In order to make adults confident, we can start with simple things with low possibility of failure. The degree of difficulty of material presented may escalate as their confidence rises. For example, when conducting training on how to operate JOSM, in the event some participants are not yet familiar with internet, facilitators can start with light skills such as how to download JOSM. The method employed for this task may be in dividing participants in groups of two. Participants who are already capable of doing the task show their partner how to do it, after which the faciliators may proceed to individual task. This method is meant to not encumber participants at the beginning of training. Other aspects on how to operate JOSM may follow the same template. The point is that participants must not be humiliated for their lack of internet skills.

d. Adults prefer individual attention when learning

Know their needs, fulfill their individual needs such as break, food, drink etc. Engage them in discussion about planning targets, and assist them in achieving them. Never hesitate to ask for their opinion in writing, during sessions or informally outside training sessions. They appreciate having their personal interests listened to.

The success of adult learning strategies also hinges on an agreeable learning atmosphere conducive to learning. A conducive atmosphere to learning according to Suprijanto (2007) constitutes the following:

  1. An atmosphere that encourages participants to be active and develop their skills

  2. An atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation

  3. An atmosphere of mutual trust and openness

  4. An atmosphere of self-discovery

  5. An atmosphere that is non-threatening

  6. An atmosphere of acknowledging self-distinctness

  7. An atmosphere that allows room for difference, mistakes and doubts

  8. An atmosphere that enables participants to learn according to their interest, attention, and resources in their locality

  9. An atmosphere that enables participants to acknowledge and explore weaknesses and strengths of themselves as individuals, their groups and society

  10. An atmosphere that enables participants to grow with values and norms in their community

4. Adult Learning Evaluation

Evaluation is an activity to determine how far a learning program is implemented according to expectations. Therefore, evaluation is focused on activities to determine how far a program is successful (micro: facilitator, macro: institution). According to Fajar, A., (2002), evaluation can be defined as an effort to gain various kinds of information periodically, continuously and comprehensively about learning process and outcome, as well as the growth and development of participants’ attitudes and behaviors. The above definition shows that evaluation is also carried out during training program and not only at the end of training. Evaluation constitutes a process to paint a picture of changes among participants after training. The word process means that evaluation is a continuous endeavor, using certain methods to reach expected outcome. This process also sees that evaluation is conducted by gathering facts in a systematic way. This definition shows that an evaluation requires data gathering or measurement.

The techniques, methods or tools of evaluation comprise all methods or procedures taken to gather information or data needed as material to evaluate. The techniques used in evaluation play an important role in the outcome. Basically, evaluation techniques or methods can be divided into two types i.e . test technique or method and non-test technique or method. In cognitive aspects, a test in the form of questions (both in writing or verbally) can be used. It is expected that this aspect can enhance the affective aspect of training participants. Affective aspect can be identified through observation and questionnaire, while psycho-motor aspect can be evaluated through activities conducted and results achieved.

The theory of evaluation above is actually similar in both pedagogy and andragogy, with the difference being only in ways of evaluating. In adult learning, the evaluation method must reflect freedom in that the evaluation must come from the person learning, not forced from outside. This implies that adults must be able to evaluate themselves. Therefore, the term ‘test’ for adults should be referred to more appropriately as self-examination. An example of evaluation method suitable for adults is as follows:

  1. Feedback: each participant is given an opportunity to express their thoughts and feeling regarding the lesson presented.

  2. Reflection: participants are given the opportunity to reflect. Reflection is subjective and personal so facilitators need not to respond.

  3. Group discussion: participants are given the opportunity to discuss their respective evaluation result and put it in a report.

  4. Questionnaire: a form with list of questions prepared for participants to answer.

  5. Management team: a team is formed consisting a number of participants as moderator, note taker and evaluator. This team is in charge of writing a brief and concise report and writing evaluation for the day’s activities.

The above methods can be completed with Performance Evaluation, an assessment which constitutes a non-test evaluation conducted by observing participants’ activities. This evaluation is suitable to evaluate how far participants achieve certain competencies in carrying out certain tasks: practice and simulation. In performance evaluation, the following points need consideration:

  • Performance steps expected from participants to be carried out to show their level of competency.

  • The completeness and precision of aspects to be evaluated in the performance.

  • Specific abilities needed to carry out tasks.

  • When possible, skills to be evaluated are not too many to provide enough time for a thorough observation.

  • Skills to be evaluated is listed based on the first to the last aspects observed.

Performance Evaluation Techniques

Performance observation needs to be carried out in various contexts to determine the level of competence of certain skills. The following tools or instruments may be used to observe participants performance:

  1. Check list

Performance evaluation can be conducted using a check list (yes-no questions). With this check list, participants will get points when certain criteria of mastering certain competency are observed by evaluators. In the event no competency is observed, participants will not get any point. The weakness of this method is that evaluators only have two absolute options, right or wrong; observed and not observed. There is no middle ground. Nevertheless, check list is more practical to be used to observe subjects in great number. The following is an example of a check list.

Example of checklist


Scoring Aspect


Not Good

Total Score

Maximum Score

  1. Rating scale

Performance evaluation using rating scale enables evaluators to give median scores for mastery of certain competencies, as scores are given in a continuum where there are more than two options of scoring category. Evaluation scale is spread from not perfect to very perfect. For example, 1 = not competent, 2 = sufficiently competent, 3 = competent and 4 = very competent. The following is an example of rating scale.

Example of rating scale


Scoring Aspect






Total Score

Maximum Score



1 = Not competent 2 = Sufficiently Competent 3 = Competent 4 = Very competent

In the event a participant gains a score of 16, s/he can be qualified as “very competent”. Other qualification is also determined according to scores obtained. In school settings, this performance evaluation can be carried out by teachers. For adults, it is the responsibility of facilitators together with training participants. The forms that have been filled out can serve as a matter of discussion or records for management team.


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