A major trend in adult education at the moment is that the constructivist approach is key and that older learning theories such as
behaviorism and humanism are falling out of vogue. A key aspect of adult education that is continually brought up in studies of
andragogy is that adults learn in a myriad of ways. Taking this point to be true, would it not stand to reason that adults would also in
turn respond to a myriad of instructional theories?
Many adult educators can get bogged down in the argument, “are you a sage on the stage or a guide on the side?” however, as
Amanda Hovious argues in her blog, educators should be able to say both.
(Hovious, 2013, para. 11)
By incorporating different learning theories into our classroom we are able to meet the needs of students on a variety of levels. Take
for instance a student that is taking part in a collaborative online project based learning environment for the first time. There is the
possibility that this student might not understand the basics of computing. In this case, a behavioristic approach would be
warranted to quickly get the student up to speed in terms of computing. The teacher could then switch focus to more of a
constructivist approach in the hopes that the student would be able to apply previous experience to the project and thrive, now that
the student had the requisite computing skills to do so.
As noted in the article in Online Learning Insights, (2013, para. 16)we can never know for certain what trends will emerge in adult
education. What we can do however is ensure that we have a variety of tools, in this case, learning theories to help our learners
adjust to these trends.