How Learning Theories for Adults Can Be Used in Facilitating Groups for Adult Learning

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Explain ways in which theories of how adults learn can be applied to work with groups of adults

Kolb’s learning cycle represents in a cycle diagram the process through which adults learn. The theory is that people learn through reflecting on their experience, deciding how they felt, analyzing what was going on and choosing what they will do next time. These 4 phases of learning are known as; concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experiment.

This is a useful theory as it is easily communicated through a simple diagram and after using the cycle a few times it is easy to remember. I have used it to help parent clearly think through issues in their parenting experience one step at a time. It has been helpful to get parents to reflect and move on to try a different approach rather than getting stuck, bewildered by their child’s behaviour. This is a good tool for parents because it helps them become reflective learners and this skill is vital for parenting. It also gets parents to consider their own and their child’s behaviours helping them to be more aware of themselves and more empathetic.

I have found thinking through this cycle useful in my own parenting, particularly in situations that provoked a strong emotional reaction in me or my child, or at times when my child is persisting in an unhelpful behaviour e.g. refusing to join the rest of the family for dinner, or provoking his siblings when I am trying to get ready to go out. Taking time to reflect and analyse has enabled me to be proactive in managing how I react and think of ways to help my child to behave better.

Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic (VAK) are the three main categories of learning style in Fleming’s model, sometimes referred to as VARK the R being reading and writing based learners. Fleming suggests that most people have a preferred learning style and outcome for learning are enhanced when they can use that style. Honey and Mumford...
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