Nursing Continue Education · Nursing Informatics

Principles of Adult Learning

As according to Palis and Quiros (2014, p 115-116), Malcolm Knowles outlined some principles and typical characteristics in relation to adult learners:

  1. The need to learn, in which adults need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it. the need to know how learning will be conducted, what learning will occur and why learning is important to them. In other words, adult learns to need to be goal oriented.
  2. Adults have self-concept, in which they understand their own responsibility in decision making. Plus, adults are self-directed, in which they are able to control, motivate, supervise, and adjust their own learning.
  3. Adult learners have accumulated experiences in the past, therefore, they are knowledgeable, however, because of their past experiences, they tend to develop resistant to new ideas and changes.
  4. Adults have the readiness to learn, on topics that are relevant to their real lives.
  5. As mentioned above, adult learners need to be goal oriented, and yes, they are goal oriented. It is important to provide overviews and or summaries of the learning objectives and remain organized with the goal in mind.
  6. Adult learners are both external and internal motivators.

I believed technology helps adult learners. For example, online learning provides adult learners opportunities to learn in their own needs, pace, and the environment.  As we mentioned above, adult learners are goal oriented and motivators, and they are self-concept, in which their learning mostly is related to their profession, personal interests, or a combination of both. They understand their responsibility and reason of why to seek out information on such topic. They have their needs to learn motivated by external and or internal motivators, and technology provided the way for them to learn and cope with their real-life situations.


Palis, A. G., & Quiros, P. A. (2014). Adult Learning Principles and Presentation Pearls. Middle East African Journal Of Ophthalmology, 21(2), 114-122. doi:10.4103/0974-9233.129748





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