Common misconceptions of adult higher education
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Common Misconceptions of Adult Higher Education. EDU 643: Teaching the Adult Learner By: Kevin Antonucci. Choosing Higher Education as an Adult.

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Common Misconceptions of Adult Higher Education

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Common misconceptions of adult higher education

Common Misconceptions of Adult Higher Education

EDU 643: Teaching the Adult Learner

By: Kevin Antonucci

Choosing higher education as an adult

Choosing Higher Education as an Adult

“Over six million adult undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in [the year] 2000, [which is] morethan the total collegiate enrollment in 1968”

(Kasworm, 2003).

Adult learners have overcome three main misconceptions in their pursuit for higher education. Regardless of these misconceptions, studies have shown an overall increased in enrollment.

I don t have the time


“…I don’t have the time.”

  • Common Misconception:

    • If I am a full-time working adult, I can not take a higher education course.

      “There is a strong linkage between one’s work life and participation in adult education”

      (Merriam, Caffarella and Baumgartner, 2007).

    • At Post University, students are given flexible and ample time to complete assignments on their own schedule

Informal learning theory


Informal Learning Theory

  • This theory suggests learning practices that are more spontaneous and follow fewer guidelines

  • Adults can learn and receive feedback through:

    • Open discussions with classmates

    • Reading on their own time

    • Asking questions online

    • Watching educational videos

    • Contacting professors via email or phone

I will never be computer savvy


“…I will never be computer savvy.”

  • Common Misconception:

    • Because I didn’t grow up with technology, I will not be able to learn how to use it efficiently.

      “A National Science Foundation sponsored study… found that older adults were willing and capable of learning new computer skills”

      (Mynatt and Rogers, 2001).

  • Little practice and repetition are the key to learning new skills.

Formal learning theory


Formal Learning Theory

  • This theory is based on following instructions and being taught a certain subject.

  • If an adult is willing to learn computer skills they can partake in

    • Webinars

    • Tutoring sessions

    • Open discussions

    • Courses that encourage the use of social media such as YouTube, Twitter, Skype etc.

I m too old for this


“…I’m too old for this!”

  • Common Misconception:

    • Once we reach a certain age, we are considered too old to continue our education.

      “Older adult education occurs in a wide variety of settings”

      (Mynatt and Rogers, 2001).

  • If an adult is motivated and remembers that age is just a number there are countless ways to take a course including senior centers and churches.

Self directed learning theory


Self-Directed Learning Theory

  • According to this theory, adults have the opportunity to choose what they want to learn and can select the classes they they are most interested in.

  • This theory can be practiced by

    • Setting goals

    • Creating charts for time management

    • Taking courses WITHOUT set login times

    • Submitting work early to score higher and stay motivated



  • Misconceptions about an adult learner can include:

    • Not having enough time

    • Not understanding basic technology

    • Being too old to earn a higher education degree

  • The informal learning theory suggests flexibility in online learning for those lacking the time to learn.

  • The formal learning theory is based on structure and specific guidelines for those who need new skills in technology.

  • The self-direct learning theory is suggests focusing on true goals and future objectives for those who believe their age prevents them from learning.



Scala, M. A. (1996). Going back to school: Participation motives and experiences of older adults in an undergraduate.. Educational Gerontology, 22(8), 747.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood, a comprehensive guide. (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Eraut*, M. (2004). Informal learning in the workplace. Studies in continuing education, 26(2), 247-273.

Kasworm, C. E. (2003). Setting the stage: Adults in higher education. New Directions for Student Services, 2003(102), 3-10.

Mynatt, E. D., & Rogers, W. A. (2001). Developing technology to support the functional independence of older adults. Ageing International, 27(1), 24-41.

Towle, A., & Cottrell, D. (1996). Self directed learning. Archives of disease in childhood, 74(4), 357-359.

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