ED554 Adult Education Learning Theory

for S1P 2009

Printer Friendly

Mission Statement: The mission of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Park University is to provide leadership and directions to Park University's graduate and professional programs to assure that they are specialized, scholarly, innovative, and designed to educate students to be creative, independent, and lifelong learners within the context of a global community.

School For Education Mission Statement
The School for Education at Park University, an institution committed to diversity and best practice, prepares educators to be effective school professionals, reflective change agents, and advocates for equity and excellence for all learners.

Vision Statement: Park University's School of Graduate and Professional Studies will be an international leader in providing innovative graduate and professional educational opportunities to learners within a global society.

School For Education Vision Statement
The School for Education at Park University is to be known as a leader in the preparation of educators who will address the needs, challenges, and possibilities of the 21st century.

Park University School for Education  Conceptual Framework


ED 554 Adult Education Learning Theory


S1P 2009 DL


Dennis, Kay S.


Assistant Professor of Education


Ed. D.

Office Location


Office Hours

Flexible - Mon. - Sat.

Daytime Phone

252.241.9463 – By appointment, please



Semester Dates

Jan. 12 - Mar. 15, 2009

Class Days


Class Time



ED 500, ED 516, ED 538

Credit Hours



1.   Writing Literature Reviews: A Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (3rd ed.). Author: Jose Galvan. Pyrczak Publishing (2006)

2.   Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed.). Authors: Sharan Merriam, Rosemary Caffarella, and Lisa Baumgartner. Jossey-Bass (2006)

3.   Recommended: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). American Psychological Association (2001).

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.
Advising - Park University would like to assist you in achieving your educational goals. Please contact your Campus Center for advising or enrollment adjustment information.
Online Classroom Technical Support - For technical assistance with the Online classroom, email helpdesk@parkonline.org or call the helpdesk at 866-301-PARK (7275). To see the technical requirements for Online courses, please visit the http://parkonline.org website, and click on the "Technical Requirements" link, and click on "BROWSER Test" to see if your system is ready.
FAQ's for Online Students - You might find the answer to your questions here.

Course Description:
ED 554 -- Adult Education Learning Theory. This course will provide advanced study of adult learning, theory, philosophical foundations of adult education, and research relating to specific issues and approaches for facilitating adult education. In addition, the course will examine the role and characteristics of the adult learner in the 21st century. Prerequisites: ED 500, ED 516, ED 538.

Educational Philosophy:

Students achieve optimal success when they participate actively in a timely manner, consistently apply their best effort, and share the responsibility for their own learning. As an educator I will guide, facilitate and support your learning by:

v       Creating an organized, positive, and interactive learning climate

v       Focusing your attention on important aspects of the course

v       Clarifying performance expectations

v       Encouraging reflection

v       Assessing and acknowledging your achievements

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the characteristics of adult learners
  2. Critically analyze emerging research on adult learning theory.
  3. Examine the major philosophical foundations of adult learning
  4. Describe the major adult learning theory
  5. Describe theories of motivation
  6. Apply adult learning theories and research to contextual situations;
  7. Gain an understanding of philosophical foundations of adult education.
  8. Explore adult learning theory from a global perspective

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. 1. 1.Identify a problem or issue related to adult learning and write a scholarly review of the literature
Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:


v      Mini-paper in Week 1, as a learning and diagnostic tool to foster your development in academic writing.

v      Discussions – Required weekly. Please contribute as detailed elsewhere in this Syllabus. 

v      Case Studies (Weeks 4 & 7) - You will review video clips, apply theories, and analyze the implications of theory in practice. 

v      Journal Reflection - Starting Week 1, you will reflect on the content of the course and relate the learning to your own learning and philosophy of learning.

v      Short Papers - You will write 3 papers to strengthen selected aspects of your academic writing, and to help you in completing the literature review successfully.

v      Literature Review - Each week we will make stepwise progress toward a completed literature review.

v      Proctored Final Examination/Core Assessment - As required by the School of Education, during Week 8 you are required to take a proctored final examination on the course content. It is timed, open book/notes. 



Points         as a %
Class Participation (8)
Paper #1 – Critique
Case Studies (2)
Paper # 2 – Draft
Paper # 3 - Summary
Journal Entries (7)
Literature Review
Final Exam (Core Assessment)
Total (rounded from 99.6)


Letter Grade Policy:


Number of Points



540 - 600



539 - 480



479 - 420



419 - 360



0 - 359

        Below 59

Late Submission of Course Materials:

A class week is defined as the period of time from Monday to Sunday at 11:59 p.m. MT. Monday of Week 1 begins the term. Assignments are to be completed and successfully submitted by the due date. Due to the accelerated nature of this course, late assignments cannot be accepted except under extreme circumstances and with prior approval from the Instructor. If you have a true emergency such as a death or sudden illness, it is your responsibility to make contact as soon as possible (or have someone acting on your behalf do so). Vacation, travel for work, or other events are not considered emergencies. Exception: Internet or security issues related to a military deployment.   

Classroom Rules of Conduct:


1.   The Announcements tool in eCollege is an important way the Instructor will communicate with you during the course. You are responsible for reading every Announcement, including the FAQs and the Home Page for each week in the course. If there are any changes required in assignments or due dates, they will be posted in the Announcements.

2.   The Instructor’s Office page contains a welcome message and contact information about your Instructor. If you have a question on the weekly course content, please use the Instructor's Office, so that all students can benefit.

3.   If your question is personal, such as grades, or a personal problem, please contact your Instructor through email. Send the email using the Email tool within eCollege, but select only the Instructor from the list! IMPORTANT: Unidentifiable messages are deleted unread. When sending email, be sure to include your name and ED554 on the subject line.

4.   The Virtual Café enables students to communicate with one another on side issues of interest to them.

5.   Introductions are an important aspect of an online class. During the first week, please post an introduction of yourself.  You can also post other messages to your fellow students on this page, but they may or may not see your post.  

6.   The Dropbox is the route used for submission of assignments. Send no assignments as emailed attachments. Use the Dropbox (located at top of screen, second tab from right) to submit your papers.

Class Participation in the Online Learning Environment:

1.   The Netiquette section on the Help and Resources page offers some helpful information about participation in an online class. At times when we discuss controversial topics, not everyone may agree with one other. We must remember that while each of us has a right to our own opinion, we must respect the right to differ. If anyone in class makes a comment you are uncomfortable with, please deal with it in an adult manner.

2.   Contact the Instructor if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions about the class. It is best to ask questions before an assignment is due, rather than after it has affected your performance and grade.

3.   IMPORTANT: Academic writing is habitual. All text communications should be written in a professional style, free of slang and jargon. To receive the participation grade you desire, be sure to proofread your messages. The discussion threads are not editable.  

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

KEY COURSE TOPIC: Quality Standards for Academic Writing at the Graduate Level:

The research process is writing intensive; and you will find that this course is writing intensive. As you adhere to the following standards throughout this course, you will improve your performance and satisfaction greatly. A mini-paper is assigned for Week 1 in order to illuminate possible deficiencies that would require your prompt remediation. Earning an *A* in this course requires consistently solid graduate level writing. 














The controlling idea not only is clear but also is particularly thoughtful or imaginative.

Seems to the reader to be a full discussion. Makes use of material from supplied readings as well as ideas, experiences, or information originating in the writer. All the material is integrated smoothly and supports the overall focus persuasively. The writer seems to be a thoughtful, critical reader of the material with a genuine personal "voice."

Easy to follow; the structure seems effortless because of smooth transitions and a convincing rhetorical pattern.

Reads exceptionally smoothly; the reader detects no errors in grammar, spelling, usage, punctuation, or APA style.





Focus is clear and sustained throughout; but perhaps not so original.

Incorporates source material appropriately in terms of content, and smoothly in terms of style. Personal ideas and experiences are added. The focus is clearly supported.

Employs clear paragraphing and a logical sequence of topics.


May contain an occasional problem in sentence structure or diction, but the reader is never seriously distracted.




Competent; the focus is clear but it seems commonplace or conventional.

Makes at least some use of the supplied readings and some other material to support its focus, though use may not always be relevant, and the sources not discussed critically.

Generally easy to follow, with reasonable paragraphing, though discussion may wander briefly.

Frequent mechanical problems distract reader temporarily, but one can always understand what the writer means.





Lacks focus.

Fails to provide coherent support for the general focus, makes no use of the sources, or makes frequent use of direct quotations (copying verbatim) without any introductory and concluding perspective, interpretation, application, etc. of this material.

Difficult to follow, either because the sequence of topics is not logical, because it is repetitive, or because the paragraphing is not helpful.

Demonstrates severe problems with sentence structure or word choice, such that the meaning is difficult or impossible to understand.

                                                                                                                         Adapted from ED 529, Dr. Mark Noe


Researchers, including adult education professionals, need solid critical thinking and academic writing skills. The requisite writing skills differ substantially from technical writing, email, text messaging, and the typical spoken conversation. You may write extremely well at this point; if so, this paper can reassure you. However, in the interest of your success in this writing-intensive course, during Week 1 you are asked to demonstrate your present writing skills. You are to present a coherent picture of your ideas and demonstrate critical thinking about the broader implications of a specific issue in adult education. Clear thinking, attention to detail, and critical analysis are important. The assignment can reveal deficiencies in writing related to grammar, spelling, subject/verb agreement, punctuation, proofreading, use of correction citation style, and such. Students who receive feedback indicating shortcomings are advised to remediate such deficiencies promptly. Resources available include Park’s Writing Center at http://www.park.edu/support/. SmarThinking is not available to graduate students free of charge through Park University at this time.

Class Participation:

Graduate work is enriched by exchange of ideas through dialogue; in this course you will have numerous opportunities for dialogue with classmates and the Instructor. The purpose of the weekly discussions is to foster collaborative learning through a sharing of ideas, perspectives, and experiences that inform our interpretation of the course materials and content. You are expected to read all discussion posts. Each week please post your initial response by Wednesday. This post (2-3 paragraphs) must include at least 2 salient points from that week’s readings to support your comments. Paraphrase – do not quote verbatim. Include a brief citation of the source. Add at least 2 more posts to the discussion by the end of the week (Sunday midnight). If additional questions are posted by the Instructor during the course of the discussion you should respond to them as appropriate. 


During the term you will have reactions, ideas, and thoughts about the content we are discovering. You are asked to keep a journal of your thoughts as a means of tracking of how your thinking evolves during the course. You will make a journal entry during Weeks 1-7 on your reactions to the course content. Grading will not be related to citations or content, but to your overall entry and reflection on that week’s work. To submit, access the Dropbox and click on Journal. Submit each entry by Sunday midnight.

Case Studies:

This activity is intended to help you apply the course concepts to the practice of adult education. Also it will allow you to improve your work by comparing the conciseness and precision of your writing with that of your classmates. During Weeks 4 and 7, you will write a 1-2 page paper on a case study (located under Course Home - see Case Study). Video clips from Real Women Have Curves and The Business of Fancy Dancing will provide your source material. Identify 3 critical issues as they relate to the week, and explain the 3 issues by applying specific adult learning theory or concepts. Finally, identify the implications of theory as enacted in practice. Post your paper as a Word attachment to the designated Discussion Thread by midnight Friday. Also submit your paper via the Dropbox for grading.  

Short Papers:  

1.   Article Analysis and Critique. The purpose of this Week 1 assignment is to help you evaluate material for your paper. After reading a provided article, you will respond to several questions on the piece.

2.  Draft version of your literature review. For Week 6 you will compose, incubate, and revise a strong draft of your Literature Review. Include a very brief log of your thoughts and reactions during the incubation/rewrite process. You will find this sequence to be remarkably helpful in producing a quality paper.Papers will be returned within 10 days for additional writing/revision.

3.   Summary of Literature Review - Develop a 600 word summary and post in the designated Week 8 discussion thread. Be sure to include: topic, research questions, literature you reviewed, a summary of salient points, and your suggestions to inform practice.

Literature Review:  

The purpose of the Literature Review is to provide an opportunity to explore an adult learning topic of your choice while developing the necessary skills for academic writing. Key steps:

v       Isolate a sufficiently narrowed topic

v       Articulate up to 3 research questions

v       Target, assess the merits, and select scholarly resources carefully

v       Use and correctly cite current academic literature that helps to inform your topic

v       Identify inconsistencies and gaps in the literature, and any new questions that now emerge

v       Suggest ways in which the literature can inform the practice of adult education

1.  Keep in mind when you obtain Instructor approval for a topic that the design is for you to use it for your papers in ED 629 and ED 630. (As noted on the Course Home Page, the research pathway begun in this course continues in ED 629 with further elaboration on your ED 554 topic and the writing of Chapters 1-3. In ED 630, you will conduct your action research project and write Chapters 4 and 5.)

2.  IMPORTANT: Due to the brevity of the term, it is essential that you select a topic and stick with it. In an 8-week term there is not enough time to alter your decision and start anew with a different topic.

3.  Here is a sample topic or thesis statement: Tribal colleges serve as a positive means to self-determination for Native American adult learners. In researching this topic one might review tribal colleges, self-determination, barriers to adult learning, and adult learning theory as it relates to cultural influences on success to marginalized populations. These terms are known as keywords in the library research arena.

4.  If your outlining skills are rusty, you are advised to remediate yourself promptly prior to completing the outline assignment. You will construct a detailed outline, to be followed carefully in subsequent papers.

5.  If you have not conducted a recent library search for scholarly material such as peer-reviewed journal articles, or if you have not scrutinized scholarly works recently, you should refresh your library skills and devote time at start of term to reading some studies. It will help you to see how other researchers frame their research questions and/or hypotheses. If you set about writing these assignments uninformed, you may have serious difficulty.

6.  Have in mind specific criteria by which you evaluate what you read. For example: Is the author identified and credentials noted? When was the material published/updated? These are only 2 dimensions to assess; numerous resources are available online to guide you in evaluating resources.

7.  A literature review is a formal academic paper with APA citation required. You will construct your review incrementally and received feedback weekly. Your paper should run 8-10 pages excluding the cover sheet, references, and any appendices. Your review should include at least 6 peer reviewed journal articles published no earlier than 2002 (unless an item holds some special historical significance). Wikipedia, newspaper, or magazine sources, About.com, and such are not acceptable resources. 

8.  Please review the Literature Review Rubric and all material posted under the Writing Center section of this course for additional information. Additional resources can be found in the Webliography section of this course.  

  Assignment Due Dates
Week 1
Introduction to Adult Learning  
MCB Ch. 1-3  
Galvan Ch. 1-3   
Discussion: First post Wednesday    
Paper # 1 - Galvan p. 8; #1 A - E: Sunday (Dropbox)  
Mini-paper: Sunday (Dropbox)
Journal: Sunday (Dropbox) 
Paper Topic: Sunday (Dropbox)  
Week 2
Older Adults & Aging  
MCB Ch. 12 & 14  
Galvan Ch. 4-6  
Discussion: First post Wednesday    
Journal: Sunday (Dropbox)  
Research Question(s): Sunday (Dropbox)    
Week 3
MCB Ch. 13 & 15  
Galvan Ch. 10  
Ryan & Deci (Doc Sharing)    
Discussion: First post Wednesday    
Journal: Sunday (Dropbox) 
Detailed Outline: Sunday (Dropbox)  
Week 4
Adult Learning Theory 
MCB Ch. 4 & 11  
Galvan Ch. 7-8  
Discussion: First post Wednesday    
Journal: Sunday (Dropbox) 
Case Study: Sunday (Dropbox)  
Introduction Section: Sunday (Dropbox)   
Week 5
Adult Learning Theory 
MCB Ch. 5-6  
Galvan Ch. 9 & 11  
Discussion: First post Wednesday    
Journal: Sunday (Dropbox) 
Work on paper    
Week 6
Adult Learning Theory 
MCB Ch. 7-8  
Galvan Ch. 12  
Discussion: First post Wednesday    
Paper # 2 – Sunday (Dropbox)
Journal: Sunday (Dropbox)   
Week 7
Adult Learning Theory 
MCB Ch. 9-10  
Galvan Ch. 13  
Schell (DocSharing)  
Discussion: First post Wednesday  
Journal: Sunday (Dropbox) 
Incubation/Rewrite; Reflection on process    
Week 8
MCB Ch. 16  
Discussion: First post Wednesday    
Paper # 3 –Summary Post: Wednesday  
Literature Review: Thursday (Dropbox)    

Discussion Participation
Initiative       3 pts.
Expression    3 pts.
Relevance     4 pts.
> 3 errors    -2 pts.
TOTAL         10 pts./wk. x 8 weeks.
Short Papers
Quality Standards & Grading Criteria
Paper # 1
20 points
1)      Responds fully to questions in Galvan, p. 8, #1 A – E.
2)      Demonstrates a critical analysis of the journal article.
3)    Contains > 5 mechanical errors (APA, format, spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.).
4)    Per day for late submission.
Paper # 2
45 points
1)      Paper submitted as a fully edited draft. 
2)      Writes so that the paper parallels the outline. 
3)      Writes logically, with effective intro, flow, transitions, summation
4)    Contains > 5 mechanical errors (APA, format, spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.). 
5)    Per day for late submission.
Paper # 3
45 points
1)      Includes the topic, research question(s), and literature reviewed.
2)      Includes a summary of salient points.
3)    Offers suggestions to inform practice.  
4)      Contains > 5 mechanical errors (APA, format, spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.), or exceeds 600 word limit.
5)    Per day for late submission.

Grading Criteria -- Literature Review


Preparatory Work (Weeks 1-7)


Topic: Week 1

·         Relates to the practice of adult education and/or training (1)

·         Relates to adult learning theory (2)

·         Is stated in such a way that the research questions can emerge (2)

·         Per day for late submission





Research Question(s): Week 2

·         Relates to the proposed topic (2)

·         Relates to adult learning theory (1)

·         Can be researched without extensive modification to the text (2)

·         Leads to specific literatures to research/review (3)

·         Is worded in such a way that sets the tone for the paper (2)


·         Per day for late submission.








Detailed Outline: Week 3

·         Includes all required sections: cover sheet, introduction, literature review, recommendations, conclusions, and reference (5)

·         Divided into one section per body of literature to be reviewed (5)

·         Includes appropriate subsections (5)


·         Per day for late submission.







Introduction Section: Week 6

·         Opening statement draws the reader in (4)

·         Context/background on the importance of your topic (why this topic) (8)

·         Thesis statement or research problem clearly identified (4)

·         Explicates the research question(s) to be investigated (4)

·         Identifies the literature to be explored, and its relevance explained (10)

·         Includes a lead paragraph into the next section of the paper (5)


·         Per day for late submission.









Literature Review (Week 8)


·         Defines the context of the problem (5)

·         Defines research question(s) (2)

·         Explains paper layout (3)

·         Identifies literature to review (3)

·         Explains relevance of literature reviewed ( 5)

·         Lead paragraph into the next section of the paper (2)









Literature Review Section:

·         Includes an introduction paragraph to the literature section (5)

·         Identifies literature included in the review (5)

·         Discusses & explores each reading in the context of the topic and research questions; analyzes how it helps to inform the topic and the research questions (25) 

·         Discussion of the literature demonstrates a solid grasp of adult learning theory (15)









·         Highlights and explains 3 significant new insights from the literature review (15)

·         Makes recommendations on how the new insights/learning from the literature review can inform the paper topic and the practice of adult education (10)







·         Relates the paper content to the topic and research question(s) (5)

·         Draws the paper to a close by linking the concepts and ideas into a tight final paragraph or two (10)







·         Paper flows in a logical discussion and is easy to follow (5)

·         Grammar usage is correct (5 pts)







·         Paper is structured according to the format provided in the Writing Center (5)



·         Minimum of 6 references from refereed academic journals (3)

·         All published within the past 5 years (1)

·         Web reference is of high quality (1)







·         Style of the paper is correct with respect to all APA standards – text & references (5)

·         IF >5 APA-related ERRORS





Academic Honesty:
As a learning community, the University upholds the highest standards of academic integrity in all its academic activities, by faculty, staff, administrators and students. Academic integrity involves much more than respecting intellectual property rights. It lies at the heart of learning, creativity, and the core values of the University. Those who learn, teach, write, publish, present, or exhibit creative works are advised to familiarize themselves with the requirements of academic integrity and make every effort to avoid possible offenses against it, knowingly or unknowingly. Park University 2008-2009 Graduate Catalog Page 25


Plagiarism involves the appropriation of another person's ideas, interpretation, words (even a few), data, statements, illustration or creative work and their presentation as one's own. An offense against plagiarism constitutes a serious academic misconduct.  Although offenses against academic integrity can manifest themselves in various ways, the most common forms of offenses are plagiarism and cheating. Plagiarism goes beyond the copying of an entire article. It may include, but is not limited to: copying a section of an article or a chapter from a book, reproduction of an art work, illustration, cartoon, photograph and the like and passing them off as one's own. Copying from the Internet is no less serious an offense than copying from a book or printed article, even when the material is not copyrighted.

Plagiarism also includes borrowing ideas and phrases from, or paraphrasing, someone else's work, published or unpublished, without acknowledging and documenting the source. Acknowledging and documenting the source of an idea or phrase, at the point where it is utilized, is necessary even when the idea or phrase is taken from a speech or conversation with another person.

Park University 2008-2009 Graduate Catalog Page 25

Plagiarism can result promptly in a failing grade for an assignment and/or the course.

Attendance Policy:

Professors are required to maintain attendance records and report absences. Excused absences can be granted by the instructor, for medical reasons, school sponsored activities, and employment-related demands, including temporary duty. Students are responsible for any missed work. Absences for two successive weeks, without approved excuse, will be reported to the Director of the individual graduate program, or to the Executive Director for the Graduate School, for appropriate action. Students with such a record of absences, without an approved excuse, may be administratively withdrawn from the class and notified that an "F" will be recorded, unless the student initiates official withdrawal from the class(es).Park University 2008-2009 Graduate Catalog Page 29

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


This material is protected by copyright and can not be reused without author permission.

Last Updated:1/5/2009 8:40:45 AM