Cross (1981) presents the Characteristics of Adults as Learners (CAL) model in the context of her analysis of lifelong learning programs. The model attempts to integrate other theoretical frameworks for adult learning such as andragogy ( Knowles ), experiential learning ( Rogers ), and lifespan psychology.
Situational characteristics consist of part-time versus full-time learning, and voluntary versus compulsory learning. The administration of learning (i.e., schedules, locations, procedures) is strongly affected by the first variable; the second pertains to the self-directed, problem-centered nature of most adult learning.
Consider three adults: a nursing student, a new parent, and a middle-aged
social worker about to take a course on child development. Each of these
individuals differs in age (20,30,40) and life/developmental phases
(adolescent/searching, young/striving, mature/stable). They also differ in
terms of situational characteristics: for the nursing student, the course is
full-time and compulsory, for the parent, it is part-time and optional; for the
social worker it is part-time but required. According to the
1. Adult learning programs should capitalize on the experience of participants.
2. Adult learning programs should adapt to the aging limitations of the participants.
3. Adults should be challenged to move to increasingly advanced stages of personal development.
4. Adults should have as much choice as possible in the availability and organization of learning programs.
Cross, K.P. (1981). Adults as Learners.
Cross, K.P. (1976). Accent on Learning.
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