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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Activity Eight; Adult Learning Theory

Define and describe the Adult Learning Theory;
Diagram from James Atherton, 2009 
How does this connect to what I do and what I believe about teaching/facilitation?

 The Adult Learning Theory I have decided to focus on is Honey and Mumford's Typology of Learners which builds on Kolb's Learning Cycle, this succinctly explains  'individual people's different learning styles,' and also 'a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all'.  A behavourist model, it fits very well with my own philosophy of creating authentic real life experiences 'grasping the experience' in order for there to be an 'emotional transformation from the experience' .  This does not necessarily happen every time, but under controlled circumstances learning can come from the experience.   I have used aspects of this theory in the past and have come to understand the importance of planning and preparing the activities with initial VAK diagnostic tools to assess the particular learning style of the individuals in the class, another aid to assist in getting to know the group.  Effective team work is important in the hospitality/Tourism Industry and paying particular attention to how the group is formed using the diagnostic tools should, in theory, assist with working productively on a task.  Structured briefings and debriefings play an important role in helping the learner to reflect on their performance, build on it and move forward.  However, it is easy to miss the opportunity to reflect and this is an area where I can create more opportunities.
This Theory fits very well with our methodology of teaching, the students gain background information, there is a model or demonstration, then the students role play or 'do', making their mistakes along the way, until they gain competence in that activity or task. 
How will this support my plan?
  • Use of ice breakers, de-inhibitizers, energisers throughout the sessions to encourage participation, cooperation and belonging
  • By incorporating  learning style diagnostic tools to effectively group the students
  • Prepare briefings and de-briefings of experiences, activities  
  • If students learn by 'doing' then providing more real life experiences or helping them to create their own



  1. Learning through experiences and role playing is a very powerful learning device. I think that you have described this well and given pointers as to what makes the experience work. How do you run the debriefs, is it an interactive process?

  2. Hi, thanks for your comments, the debriefs are structured in a way that encourage the students to think about what they have just experienced, how they could improve on aspects of the experience and how they can take this interaction into their next experience. In short, what, so what, now what?

  3. Yes Helen I think this is an ideal learning theory to underpin your teaching approach. In your experience, are the majority of your students demonstrating one particular learning style from the Vark questionnaire? I think it is important to alert students to this learning theory as well so they can identify with the need to reflect. Do you do this?

  4. In general, the majority are visual, kinesthetic learners that learn by doing. The Vark questionaires are used before the students form their groups, we analsise the data from these for them to understand their own learning style and for them to look at the group as a whole. The activities are matched, as much as possible, to the students different strengths. They do this with some direction.