ALW 2013 – resources about adult learning

ALW 2013 – resources about adult learning

ALW 2013 – resources about adult learning

Date posted: April 8, 2013

In honour of Adult Learners’ Week, the library will be highlighting resources on adult learning and resources for adult learners during the week. Today, we’re featuring some resources that describe adult learning, its special features and what it means for teaching.


Adult learning basics.
William J. Rothwell. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press, 2008.
Examines the principles of adult learning theory and how they relate to training. It addresses how individual learning competencies, organizational learning climate and technology-related issues affect the adult learning process. Considers 7 kinds of adult intelligence and the most effective ways to address them.

Improving adult literacy instruction: options for practice and research.
Committee on the Learning Sciences. Alan M. Lesgold and Melissa Welch-Ross, eds. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.
Also available online
This report examines the research on literacy development, including neurobiology, instructional design, motivation and technology use, and makes recommendations for literacy instruction for adult basic education.

Jump start the adult learner: how to engage and motivate adults using brain-compatible strategies.
Laurie Materna. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2007.
Combining adult education theory with brain-compatible learning, this book presents practical, brain-friendly approaches for working with adults in formal and informal settings. Background information accompanies techniques and strategies for classrooms or workshops, including graphic organizers, music energizers, exercise activities, and self-assessments.

Learning in adulthood: a comprehensive guide. 3rd ed.
Sharan B. Merriam, Rosemary S. Cafarella, Lisa M. Baumgartner. New York: John Wiley, 2007.
Just as the title says, this is a comprehensive guide with information on different models of adult learning as well as a section on newer approaches to adult learning that includes embodied, spiritual, and narrative learning, non-Western perspectives, and critical theory, postmodern, and feminist perspectives.

Making sense of adult learning. 2nd ed.
Dorothy MacKeracher. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.
This is a guide to the essential of how adults learn and how to apply that knowledge to practical, everyday situations.

Planning instruction for adult learners. 3rd ed.
Patricia Cranton. Toronto: Wall & Emerson, 2012.
A practical approach to planning instruction for adult learners, including characteristics of adult learners, formulating realistic goals and objectives, sequencing topics, and selecting instructional strategies and materials.

Planning programs for adult learners: a practical guide. 3rd ed.
Rosemary S. Caffarella and Sandra Ratcliff Daffron. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013.
The most recent edition of a book on developing education programs for adult learners. Written for educators, practitioners, volunteers, and anyone responsible for adult education programs.

“Sit & get” won’t grow dendrites: 20 professional learning strategies that engage the adult brain. 2nd ed.
Marcia L. Tate. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, 2012.
This practical handbook presents an approach to teaching adults based on research on brain-based learning, differentiated instruction, multiple intelligences and adult learning.

To borrow any or all of these titles, email


Andragogy (adult learning)


Adult learning: from theory to practice – an online course intended for tutors, updated in 2012. Introduction to teaching adult literacy – one section of this training manual covers the basic concepts of adult learning theory LBS Practitioner Training – 2.2 Principles of adult learning – a section from the free online professional development course for literacy and basic skills educators in Ontario Models of adult learning: a literature review – different approaches to adult learning, models for psychology and adult education Principles of adult learning – a brief list of the differences between how children and adults learn, and what that means to teaching.

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