Adult Learners: Needs Characteristics and Motivation

Nearly all educational studies pertinent to distance learning reveal an increasing number of nontraditional students’ enrollment in schools, especially in the institutions of higher learning and traditional public colleges (Ross-Gordon, 2011). The last two or three decades have seen dramatic increases in adults seeking education. For instance, nontraditional students in institutions of higher learning account for approximately 73% (Ronny Washington, 2013). Precisely, students above the age of 25 constitute more than 38% of all enrollment (Ross-Gordon, 2011). It is projected that the number of adults seeking education will remain the same or even increase.

Therefore, it is prudent for all stakeholders to comprehend the needs, characteristics, and motivation of adults who enroll for distance learning (Ross-Gordon, 2011). As such, it will be easier to cater for the increasing demand for distance learning even in public institutions. In addition, it would be possible to address the dropout levels among adult learners, which research has shown to be two times higher than dropouts among traditional students are, especially within the first year of study (Ronny Washington, 2013).

This paper investigates the needs, characteristics, and motivation of adult learner as illustrated by academic articles from peer-reviewed journals while investigating the same from an adult learner’s point of view.

Literature review
The needs of adult learners
The increasing numbers of adult learners indicate that adults have some needs that can be met by reentry into educational institutions. It is worth noting that adults have somewhat different needs relative to the needs of traditional students. This is can be attributed to the fact that adults are in more stable and relatively established situations. As such, adults have made some of the most significant decisions about their lives, including career paths and other aspects of life. Nonetheless, life is dynamic and changes are inevitable. Therefore, there are increasing needs among adults that increase the demand for education and the consequent reentry into institutions of learning.

The first, and probably the most common need, is the need emanating from vocational or work-related dynamics. Under the vocational needs are all career related goals that adults intend to achieve through reentry into schools. Some of the goals include upward career mobility, meeting the quickening technological change requirements, better jobs and better pay, adapting to constant changes at workplaces, and remaining occupationally viable (Boeren & Holford, 2016). 

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