Adult Learning. Influencing Factors

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2010

67 Pages

Free online reading

Table of Contents



2.4.1 Diverging
2.4.2 Assimilating
2.4.3. Converging
2.4.4. Accommodating
2.5.1 Learning from Experience
2.5.2 Developmental Psychologists
2.5.3 Critical Social Theorists
2.5.4 Andragogy
2.5.5 Critical Reflection and Transformative Learning
2.5.6 Constructivism


4.2 OBJECTIVE ONE: To Examine the Reasons Why Adults Continue Their Learning
4.3 OBJECTIVE TWO: To analyze the factors that influence adult undergraduates to persist in their schooling. (Motivation for staying in school after being admitted)
4.4 OBJECTIVE THREE: To examine the challenges faced by adult learners in continuing their learning.





I joyfully dedicate this work to God for taking me through the four (4) years of University education successfully, My Dad and Mum for their financial and moral support and my best friend Uchenna Alaneme

I finally, dedicate this work to the entire students of All Nations University College, especially my course mate


The name of the Almighty God be praised for the great things He has done, for what He is doing and for what He will do. Glory and honour be unto your name for your protection, wisdom and guidance given to me to successfully complete this research work

My most sincere gratitude goes to the evening and weekend of All Nations University College, Koforidua who provided me with vital information to complete this project work

I thank Mr. Eugene Okyere Kwakye for making time to provide knowledge, reading my scripts, and correcting my mistakes. The abundant blessing of the Lord God Almighty is what I ask for you

A special thanks to Mr. David Bohene for his support and time. God richly bless sir. I would also like to thank all persons whose influence on my life contributed to the writing of this project. I am also deeply grateful to the various authors whose works have been cited in this study

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my Dad and Mum and my best friend Uchenna Alaneme for their love, care and support. God bless you all

Finally, I thank all the management and lecturers of All Nations University College, who have taught me and inspired me. God bless you


Demand for lifelong learning programs in higher education has increased dramatically in recent years, particularly those tailored for working adults. Adults (individuals 25 years of age and older) now make up 41 percent of higher education enrolment. Currently, the trend has changed to where adults not only think about the education of their wards but also theirs where they enroll in continuous education either full time, part time, distance or online learning. Therefore, the main objective of this study is to examine the reasons why adults continue their education. Questionnaires was administered to the evening and weekend students of All Nations University College, Koforidua. The Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) was used to analyze data. Finding of the study shows that adult learners are willing to invest in their learning for the purpose of developing themselves and to get recognized qualifications. The study also found that, in the pursuit of learning, an adult learner needs to be motivated either intrinsically or extrinsically in order to persist in the schooling to prevent or alleviate dropout.

Based on the opinions, ideas and expressions of the respondents, the study recommends that flexible payment scheme, introduction of distance learning program, flexible course curriculums, training of adult learner instructors and provision of financial aid options should be implemented in the school to help adult learners

Key Words: Adult learning, personal development, universities and learning.



This chapter introduces the various component that will be looked at under the study on “The Factors that Influence Adults Learning placing emphasis on the evening and weekend students of All Nations University College, Koforidua, Ghana. This chapter proceeds to present a background of the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope, research limitation and chapter scheme.


Learning in adulthood is different from learning in childhood (Knowles, 1984). To understand adult undergraduates, one must fully understand how adults learn.

The European commission defines adult learning as “all forms of learning undertaken by adults after having left initial education and training, however far this process may have gone (e.g. tertiary education). (European commission, 2006)

Perspective on adult learning have changed dramatically over the decades. Adult learning is defined as the entire range of formal, non-formal and informal learning activities which are undertaken by adults after a break since leaving education and training and which results in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. (European commission, 2006, p.6)

Adult learning encompasses practically all experiences of mature men and women by which they acquire new knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, interests, or values. It is a process used by adults for their self-development both alone and with others, and it is used by institutions of all kinds of growth and development of their employees, members and clients.

It has been viewed as a process of being freed from the oppression of being illiterate, a means of gaining knowledge and skills, a way to satisfy learner needs, a process of critical self-reflection that can lead to transformation. The phenomenon of adult learning is complex and difficult to capture in any one definition. (Cranton P, 1994)

“Understanding learning in adulthood is like piecing together a puzzle; there are many parts that must be fitted together before the total picture emerges” (Merriam &Caffarella, 1999). The individual learner, the context in which the learning takes place, and the learning process are all parts of this puzzle. “Indeed, adult learning is the ‘glue’ holding together a field [adult education] that is diverse in content, clientele, and delivery systems” (Merriam, 1993).

Much of the early work in adult learning focused on intelligence, and whether intelligence declined with age (Merriam, 1993). Studies regarding adult intelligence in the early part of the century were a function of both flawed methodology and flawed conclusions about the loss of intelligence later in life (Merriam, 1993). Typically, such studies were conducted in an artificial setting, and timed educational tests were used to compare young learners with older learners. We know now that intelligence is not reduced through the aging process. In fact, a significant finding in the brain research of the 1990s indicates that the more the brain is used, the less likely cognitive function will be lost (Ratey, 2001). And, supplementing the “use it or lose it” concept, intelligence can actually increase with increased intellectual exercise.

The physical and psycho-social conditions of adults certainly impact how adults learn (Merriam &Caffarella, 1999). Some biological changes, such as loss of hearing and sight or disease, can seriously affect the learning process. From a psycho-social perspective, life stages or events can have an impact not only on whether or not adults choose to participate, but on how they participate, in learning. Erikson’s stages of development were influential in the development of adult learning theory (Erikson, 1963; Tweedell, 2000).

Knowles' theory of andragogy is a learning theory that is developed on the specific needs of adults. In contrast to pedagogy, or learning in childhood, Knowles emphasizes that adults are self-directed and expect to take responsibility for decisions. Adult learning programs must accommodate this fundamental aspect. The concept of andragogy had been evolving in Europe for some time, and was further refined by Knowles (1984). Andragogy, the art and science of teaching adults, is contrasted with pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children (Knowles, 1984). In the former, the learning experience is driven by the learner; in the latter, the learning experience is driven by the teacher.

Andragogy is based upon five assumptions of adult learning: maturity moves one to more self-direction, experience is a rich resource for learning, learning readiness is closely related to the developmental tasks of the adult’s social role, adults are more problem centred than subject centred in their learning, and adults are motivated by internal rather than external factors (Knowles, 1968; Merriam&Caffarella, 1999).

Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning:

- Adults need to know why they need to learn something
- Adults need to learn experientially
- Adults approach learning as problem-solving
- Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

Characteristics of Adult Learners:

- The adult learner usually has an identifiable purpose.
- The adult learner usually has had earlier experiences, both positive and negative, with organized education.
- The adult learner wants immediate usefulness of his learning.
- The adult learner's self-concept is one of self-direction.
- The adult learner brings with him a reservoir of experiences.
- The adult learner's educational interest usually reflects vocational concerns.

In practical terms, andragogy means that instruction for adults needs to focus more on the process and less on the content being taught. Strategies such as case studies, role playing, simulations, and self-evaluation are most useful. Instructors adopt a role of facilitator or resource rather than lecturer or grader.


In the early days, adults concentrated solely in making money and how to cater for their wards education. Currently, the trend has changed to where adults not only think about the education of their wards but also theirs where they enroll in continuous education either full time, part time, distance or online learning. Thus, the act of adults continuing their learning/education alongside creating wealth and catering for their ward needs to be investigated.

Therefore, the main aim of this research is to determine the various reasons why adults continue their education despite their tight schedule at work and voluminous responsibilities that they are faced with.


The objectives of this study are:

1. To examine the reasons why adults continue their learning in All Nations University College.
2. To highlight the factors that influence adult undergraduates to persist in their schooling in All Nations University College.
3. To examine the challenges faced by adult learners in continuing their learning in All Nations University College.


1. Why do adults continue their learning in All Nations University College?
2. What are the factors that influence adult undergraduates to persist in their schooling in All Nations University College?
3. What are the challenges faced by adult learners in continuing their learning in All Nations University College?


The study will be of significant benefit to adults to persist in their education. It would be a source of motivation to adults with the notion that ‘they are too old to continue their education’. The study will serve as a guide to institutions when designing curriculum and services that are consistent with adult learning. The study will also help to create awareness to tertiary institutions that are yet to embark on adult learning programs. To the society, this research will serve as a means to increase literacy in the upper age division (adults). The study serves as a secondary source of information for other researchers who desire to conduct similar research.


The research examines the factors that Influence adults learning, using All Nations University College, Koforidua as a case study. Adult learning is very broad. Specifically, this research focuses more on the evening and weekend students to know their motives for schooling. For the purpose of the research, the researcher has narrowed the scope of this study to All Nations University College, Koforidua.


Time as a factor affected the work. Thus the period of time available for the work was relatively short, as the study was combined with the demands of other academic work. This caused the researcher to limit the study to a relatively smaller area than could have covered.

Another major limitation which affected the study was the attitude of some respondents who were not willing to cooperate concerning the field of work.

More so, lack of financial support to assist the researcher in carrying out the work was also another limiting factor to affect the study.

Finally, clash of responsibilities. Thus the period for the study coincided with most of the academic period, making it hectic to carry out a study of this nature.


This research paper is organized into five chapters with the chapters being organized below:

Chapter one – this focused on the introductory aspects of the research topic, gives a general introduction of the research. This chapter is made up of the following: introduction, the Background of the study, the Statement of the problem(s), the Objective of the study, the Research questions, the Significance of the study and the Scope of the study.

Chapter two – Literature: this chapter reviews the related literature on the topic “The Factors That Triggers Adults Learning”. It would consider both the empirical and theoretical literature involved in the subject matter.

Chapter three – Methodology: This chapter deals with methodology of this research. It describes the procedures followed in this investigation in order to support its main point. It is presented in the following order: Study Area, Research Design, Data Collection Method, Data Analysis and the organization’s profile.

Chapter four – Discussion of Data and Analysis: This chapter contains absolute figures and bar charts analyzing the data collected from the respondents based on their views, opinions, ideas and expressions.

Chapter five – Findings, Suggestions, Conclusion and Recommendations: This chapter deals with the conclusion from the findings of the study and its implication. In addition, it considers recommendations and suggestions based on the attitudes, views, and feelings expressed by respondents.



Adults don’t learn like school-age children. Adults are more discerning in what they are willing to learn, more questioning, and more resentful of being told what to learn. They need to see more clearly how what they are being asked to learn will benefit them; for adults, learning is much more utilitarian than it is for children. This is an issue that adult instructors need to know and understand when teaching them. This chapter covers literature relating to the topic. The following sub-headings were reviewed:

- Definition of Adult learning
- Adult learning theories
- Importance of Adult learning
- The reasons why adults continue their learning
- Barriers to adult participation in learning
- Summaries of adult learning styles
- Being an effective facilitator
- Adult learning concepts
- Factors behind adult learner persistence in institution


Adult learning is defined as ‘the entire range of formal, non-formal and informal learning activities which are undertaken by adults after a break since leaving initial education and training, and which results in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills’. (European Commission 2006)

The European Commission defines adult learning as, ‘all forms of learning undertaken by adults after having left initial education and training, however far this process may have gone (e.g. including tertiary education).’ (European Commission 2006, p. 2)

Characteristics of adult learning sectors in Europe: Adult learning is the most diverse of the lifelong learning sectors, and national adult learning systems (where these exist) are complex and heterogeneous. The adult learning sector in Europe is vast, fragmented and diverse and is different from Member State to Member State.

In the UK, the term adult and community learning is widely used. Learning takes place in a wide range of settings and is aimed at adults who may not normally participate in education and training. It is often a collaboration between local authorities, community based organizations and traditional providers and covers structured adult education classes taught by professionally qualified teachers; unstructured activity that leads to learning; informal courses delivered in the private sector; independent study online; and self-organized groups.


Going back to school is important for many adults to achieve personal growth, maintain intellectual challenges, being lifelong learners, new careers, and other reasons.

Many adults continue their education as a progress throughout their career for a variety of reasons. They want to improve their financial worth, chances of getting a promotion, improve their competitive edge in the job market, expand their professional network, and other reasons. Continuing education is becoming a popular trend today, as more adults go back to school.

This trend in more adults going back to school is based on there being more adults, over the age of 22, in universities and colleges today than the so called, traditional students in the 18 -22 age range [University Continuing Education Association, Current Trends Report 2008].

The terms traditional student (18 -22) and non-traditional student (over 22) are no longer applicable in universities and colleges. Colleges are adapting to their new typical students and professors are learning new methods of teaching to accommodate adults. This is why any adult thinking of going back to school should not hesitate – adults are the majority.

According to Kunga&Machtmes (2009), many adults who decide to go back to school do so because of a significant event or events in their lives. Something important prompts a sudden urge to continue their education, here are a few examples:

- Getting passed over for promotion because of out of date skills
- Getting a new boss who triggers the need to seek other employment
- Company has announced layoffs or a merger coming soon
- Technical aspects of job require additional training or education
- Retirement brings about the need to seek another career

Many adults who go back to school do so for a variety of personal reasons, such as:

- Self-Improvement – desire to learn something new about a topic that has always
- Educational Enrichment – computers, writing, photography, pottery, etc.
- Community Activism – social work, environmental issues, architectural trends, etc.

Many adults continue their education for personal growth. These are adults who are always taking courses because of their need to continue learning about new things. They are not concerned about if a course they are enrolled in meets in career requirements, rather, they are taking the course for personal growth and self-development.


While there are many barriers to learning, this study covers barriers of accessibility, affordability, and accountability. Once barriers are identified, an even bigger challenge, and the challenge facing most institutions today is how to overcome barriers of learning.


Accessibility in traditional higher education is a disadvantage for working adults. Barriers relating to accessibility include time, flexibility, and instructional methods. A notable difference between traditional and non-traditional students is their use of time. Most adult learners have families and full-time jobs that compete for their time. The flexibility or inflexibility of schedules and difficult access to locations, program duration, and pre-collegiate education make success in higher education difficult. Lastly, adults learn differently than children, yet the instructional methods in the classroom often times do not reflect the difference. (Knowles, 1970, 1998; Cross, 1981; Zemke & Zemke, 1995)

By applying the learners need to know, self-concept of the learner, prior experience of the learner, and orientation to learning, Knowles principles can begin to address barriers of access in continuing education programs. While it is hard to control what outside obligations adult learners may have, continuing higher education programs can make classes available at a variety of times in a variety of ways to make it less of a competition to obligations that already exist.

Services, including admission, academic and financial aid advising, registration, and the bookstore should be available at times convenient to adults as well as traditional students. Also the duration of the academic program provides significant inflexibilities (Cross, 1981). It is not uncommon for a two year program to take upwards of five years (Kazis et al., 2007).

Pre-program assessment is also important. It is hard to design a program that doesn’t take into account the entry-level knowledge and understanding of participants (Zemke & Zemke, 1995). Also, many working adults enroll in undergraduate programs that can improve their career and income potential only to find that they lack basic skills necessary to take even introductory degree-credit courses. Unable to take classes that brought them to college, adults can get frustrated and give up. By assessing the general entry-level knowledge of participants, continuing higher education programs can make the process to complete non-credit developmental courses easier, as well as provide assessment results to instructors to help with curriculum design, all while assessing the adults’ readiness to learn (Zemke & Zemke, 1995).

Lastly, instruction in adult classes needs to be readdressed. The learning experience should be problem-centered, relevant to the learners personal goals, integrate information with what is already known, and wherever possible account for learning style differences (Zemke & Zemke, 1995). Adults learn best through methods and techniques that use experience. There should be a move in adult education away from the transmittal techniques of lecture and assigned reading toward the action-learning techniques of community projects, case method and critical incident process, discussion, simulation exercises, and the like (Knowles, 1969).


An American college education is said to be the most expensive college education in the world. Especially with a struggling economy, cost is a big issue for adult learners as well as what types of assistance exists to combat the cost of college. Current patterns of financial aid and institutional funding reinforce the disadvantages that face adult learners.

Most financial-aid programs are designed with full-time students in mind. Basically federal student aid is “financial assistance that’s available through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid” (FAFSA, 2008). For federal financial aid, you must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program and most federal grants cannot be used for noncredit courses. Most federal education loans are only available to students attending half time or more (Kazis et al., 2007).

With a few exceptions, Federal Pell Grants are available only to undergraduate students. Grants do not have to be repaid. Technically, Pell Grants are available to less-than-half-time students, but the eligibility formula does not allow these students to count living expenses or other indirect costs as part of the cost of education like federal aid programs do. Also, Pell eligibility is based on the previous year’s income and penalizes working adults seeking to return to school following layoffs and sharp reductions in income. Lastly, Pell Grants cannot be used for non-degree or non-credit programs that might otherwise be attractive to working adults who want to improve specific job related skills (Kazis et al., 2007). If one meets the requirements, the amount you get will depends not only financial need, but also costs to attend school, student status, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less” (FAFSA, 2008).

State student aid policies generally follow federal eligibility rules. A majority of the states provide no grant aid to less than-half-time students. Almost all states have very early aid application deadlines that disadvantage adults whose work and family obligations discourage long-term planning (Kazis et al., 2007).

The most obvious way to break down the barrier of affordability is to change federal and state loan programs. These aid programs were designed to promote access for traditional Online Journal of Workforce Education and Development Volume III, Issue 4 – Summer 2009 7 students and do not meet the needs of the adult students. Continuing higher education programs have an opportunity to act as an advocate on behalf of the non-traditional student in making fundamental changes to offer more direct assistance to adults. Also, continuing higher education programs must look within their own institutions. A lack of flexibility in institutional policies regarding payment options for adult students demonstrates the lack of focus on those who do not meet the institutional definition of a college student. Often time’s payments must be made in full before students can register for a new semester. On average, that gives adult students two to three months to pay their student bill. Already having other financial obligations, payment options are discouraging. The principles of adult learning can be applied in terms of institutional and societal change.


Accountability in higher education favors enrollment of traditional students. Accountability measures are intended to provide meaningful ways to assess program quality and to help institutions and systems improve by identifying strengths and weaknesses. Most accountability discussions and measures center on traditional full-time students, even though higher education outcomes are weaker for adult learners (Kazis et al., 2007). Little information exists to answer adult learner questions about employment outcomes, earnings potential or return on education investment when choosing a college or university.

Students, both traditional and non-traditional are the primary consumers of higher education. Prospective college students utilize a variety of commercial products when evaluating what institution to attend. Most consumer information about higher education focuses on traditional student needs. College guides such as U.S. News and World Report annual publication “Americas Best Colleges” present comparative data about individual institutions. Publications include information on everything from academic offerings to campus social life, target traditional students looking for a full-time college experience. Nowhere, is there any mention of adult students and their efforts to select a college. Adults want college-grade education and degrees of unquestioned quality, the same as traditional students. The task is to make the regular university program easily available to adults.

By putting andragogy in practice, the goals and purposes for the learning aspect of continuing higher education programs can begin to address the issue of accountability through institutional change. Continuing higher education programs need to collect and record data relating to enrollment, progress and completion rates as well as earning outcomes that capture adult learners’ economic gains (Kazis et al., 2007). The future success of continuing higher education depends on the history of the program. The data collected, in some cases, may not be a ringing endorsement for continuing higher education programs. Regardless, continuing education programs need to make that information accessible to both current and prospective adult students. On the institutional level records can be used for marketing/recruitment or to show the administration there is a need for additional resources. Adult education practitioners in education institutions often struggle with institutional constraints regarding not only adult students but also policy, staffing and resources (Knox, 1993; Cross, 1981). This information can be used to make necessary the changes to improve continuing education programs.


The following are the four learning styles given by Hay/McBer (2000)

2.4.1 Diverging

People with this style tend to diverge from conventional solutions, coming up with alternative possibilities. They perform better in situations that call for the generation of ideas, such as a “brainstorming” session. Research shows that people with the Diverging style are interested in people, and tend to be imaginative and aware of their emotions. They have broad cultural interests and tend to specialize in the arts.

2.4.2 Assimilating

These people excel in inductive reasoning and assimilating disparate observations into an integrated explanation. They are less interested in people and more concerned with abstract concepts. It is more important for them that the theory be logically sound and precise. In a situation where a theory or plan does not fit “facts,” they would be likely to disregard or reexamine the facts.

2.4.3. Converging

Individuals with this style seem to do best in situations such as conventional intelligence tests, where there is a single, correct answer or solution to a question or problem. Knowledge is organized so that, through hypothetical deductive reasoning, they can focus it on specific problems and converge on the correct solution. Research on this learning style show that people with this style can be unemotional, preferring to deal with things rather than people.

2.4.4. Accommodating

People with this style are most interested in doing things, in carrying out plans and experiments, and involving themselves in new experiences. They tend to be risk takers and often excel in situations where one must adapt, or accommodate, oneself to specific, immediate circumstances. In situations where a theory or plan does not fit “facts,” the person will most likely discard the theory or plan. They tend to solve problems in an intuitive, trial-and-error manner, relying heavily on other people for information rather than on their own analytic ability. They are at ease with people, but are sometimes seen as impatient and pushy.


The following pages provide a brief thumbnail sketch of some of the influential thinking that has guided adult education over the twentieth century:

Learning from Experience

Developmental Psychologists

Critical Social Theorists


Critical Reflection


2.5.1 Learning from Experience

John Dewey was an educational philosopher in the early part of the twentieth century who believed that learning comes from experience. That is, people learn best by doing some activity in relation to what they need to learn. (Cranton, 1992) For example, rather than tell students about the parts of a car engine, the teacher would design a learning activity which involves having the students work with the parts. Active learning is a key concept in education today.

2.5.2 Developmental Psychologists

During the 1960's and 1970's, psychologists described both phases and stages of adult development which they claimed influenced learning. Phases of adult development pertain to social events that might be seen as transitions or milestones in a person's life. Some educator's suggest that as people go through major transitions, such as separating from partners, or changing careers, their motivation to learn tends to increase.

Stages of development refer to an individual's growth in terms of personality, moral development, and intellectual development. One critique of stage theories has been that they were based on research which investigated almost exclusively male populations. Others contend that stage theory applies to adults in a particular cultural context. This means that stage theories would not apply to adults from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. (Knowles, 1996).

2.5.3 Critical Social Theorists

Critical social theorists question the way learning and institutions of learning are structured. They consider alternative possibilities not only for educational institutions, but also for the larger society. It should be noted that the history of adult education has its roots in social change activities since the turn of the century in Canada. These activities range from worker co-operatives to literacy projects. One of the most influential social theorists was a clergyman named Paolo Freire who worked in Brazil with literacy programs directed at the poor. Freire coined the term "banking concept" of education in which he claimed into students heads as though making deposits to a bank. He saw the role of the educator as that of "learner" in which the students teach the educator about the conditions of their existence. He further saw the educator as helping people analyze the oppression within their lives, to become conscious of that oppression, and to take action to stop it. Freire's ideas suggest a radical departure from the traditional view of the teacher as an expert authority. Instead, the teacher is conceived as a co-learner with the students. This idea has important implications for changing the power relationships within a class. That is, the teacher is no longer viewed as the sole source of knowledge, authority, and power. The knowledge that people bring to a learning situation is seen to have value and legitimacy as a way of knowing (Cranton, 1992). Freire's influence can be seen in feminist pedagogy in which learners are encouraged to analyze their everyday experiences, to identify sources of oppression, to give meaning to those experiences, and to take action to initiate social change.

2.5.4 Andragogy

Have you heard of this term before? It is defined as "the art and science of helping adults learn" and was introduced by Malcolm Knowles, a famous adult educator, whose ideas became widely known during the 1970's. His beliefs about adult learners continue to influence the work of adult educators today. Some of these beliefs include the following ideas:

- Adults are self-directing

Implications: Learners should be involved in the process of identifying and planning their own learning. The teacher acts as a facilitator of the learning process, rather than a director of it.

- Adults have many life experiences

Implications: The richest reservoir for learning is related to their life experiences. These experiences should be brought forward and used in learning activities.

- Readiness to learn depends on need

Implications: Adults often learn most readily during times of transitions, such as career change, leaving home etc. Educational institutions should accommodate adults in terms of their particular personal situations.

- Adult orientation to learning is life or problem centered

Implications: Adults want to see practical applications for their learning. Learning activities should include problems to solve.

2.5.5 Critical Reflection and Transformative Learning

Although the principles of adult learning outlined by Malcom Knowles have greatly influenced the approach to adult education, more recent writers have provided challenges or extensions to these views. Stephen Brookfield, (1986 cited in Cranton, 1992) for example, suggests that the role of the educator is not only to help meet the learning needs of adult learners, but also to challenge them to think critically about the assumptions which influence their work. In this sense, he moves beyond Knowles original ideas. Brookfield also challenges the belief that adults are self-directed learners. His experience suggests that many adults require ongoing direction from the teacher to help them determine their learning needs. Mezirow (1991) as well, talks about the role of the adult educator in fostering critical self-reflection as a means of helping adults learn. To him, reflective learning involves questioning our beliefs. If this questioning leads us to re-consider those beliefs and to change them in light of new information or experience, then this learning becomes "transformative." Mezirow claims that this type of learning provides a liberating experience for learners. Finally, David Hunt (1992) talks about the importance of the role of "experienced knowledge "(our accumulated understanding of human affairs which resides in our hearts, heads, and actions") in learning. He encourages adult educators to respect this knowledge which resides with all learners, to help each learner develop self-awareness of this knowledge, and then to share this understanding with others as a means of creating new understandings.

2.5.6 Constructivism

The idea of constructivism has gained increasing currency as a way of viewing learning, especially in relation to online learning. This view holds that the learner actively constructs new ideas or concepts based on current and past knowledge. Some suggest that what the learner already knows may be the most important factor influencing new learning. (Ausubel, D.P. 1968 cited in Angelo and Cross, 1993.) The learner actively makes connections between his/her previous knowledge and new information. New meanings are assigned as a result of these connections, and new knowledge is generated. In relation to this idea, Mezirow (1991) suggests that it is not so much what happens to people, but more importantly, how they interpret and explain that experience that influences their beliefs and their performance. Mezirow (1991) incorporates these ideas into his "transformative learning theory" when he writes that the meaning of ideas exists within ourselves rather than in books. That is, we interpret what we learn in our own unique way which is influenced by our past experience and our interaction with others. He claims that "making meaning" is central to what all learning is about. In this view, all people have a need to understand their experiences and this understanding, in turn, guides their future thoughts, feelings, and actions. The process of coming to an understanding or making sense out of our experiences is called "making meaning".


There are many ways to help adults learn effectively. One of the most effective approaches is facilitation of learning, a central feature of the individualizing process described throughout this book. The term facilitation has a liberator connotation. It refers to the process of helping learners achieve self-growth through self-evaluation and cooperation with others. Additional descriptors of facilitation include assisting, freeing, aiding, guiding, and empowering learners in the learning process. Put simply, facilitation is the process of helping adults learn.

Brockett (1991) views an educator of adult's primary role as one of facilitating learning. He bases this view on the assumption that adults tend to prefer settings in which they have primary responsibility for directing their own learning. Brockett lists three skills as essential for effective facilitation: attending, responding, and understanding. Attending involves the development of a physical and psychological relationship where full attention is given to the learner. Responding refers to a showing of empathy, respect, genuineness, and concreteness for the learner and the learner's needs. The third skill, understanding, involves the sensitive use of confrontation, immediacy and self-disclosure. Taken together, these skills suggest ways adult instructors can build a foundation upon which good and meaningful learning can occur.

Another proponent of the facilitating approach is Knowles. He believes that adult educators should serve as facilitators of learning rather than content transmitters, and offers a seven-element process model designed to bring this about. According to Knowles (1984), the model consists of the facilitator "(1) establishing a climate conducive to learning; (2) creating a mechanism for mutual planning; (3) diagnosing the needs for learning; (4) formulating program objectives that will satisfy these needs; (5) designing a pattern of learning experiences; (6) conducting these learning experiences with suitable techniques and materials; and (7) evaluating the learning outcomes and diagnosing learning needs". The main advantage of Knowles' model is that it provides a means for helping learners acquire knowledge and skills through mutual inquiry. It also emphasizes the provision of procedures and resources for the facilitator and learners to work collaboratively toward desired ends.

There are additional reasons for emphasizing facilitation of learning, especially for adults. As the researcher noted in earlier parts of the study, adults are characterized by a special orientation to life, living, education, and learning. They have a rich reservoir of experience upon which to draw with different developmental needs and roles than children and adolescents. They also have varying amounts of stress and anxiety. These essential characteristics provide the adult instructor with some optimum conditions for learning and suggest a facilitating role.


The 1997 Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning, the highly commended outcome document of the 5th International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA V), defined adult education as the “entire body of ongoing learning processes, formal or otherwise, whereby people regarded as adults by the society to which they belong develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge, and improve their technical or professional qualifications or turn them in a new direction to meet their own needs and those of their society“. Adult education takes different forms (formal, non-formal, informal).It is provided in different places and set-ups (community learning centers, folk high schools, on-the-job, evening classes, etc.), for different purposes (general, vocational) and at different levels from primary to post-doctoral (adult basic education, continuing education, higher education, etc.). The term “adult education“ has in recent years often been accompanied by “adult learning“, placing more emphasis on demand than on the process of provision. Access to education and learning for adults is a fundamental aspect of the right to education and facilitates the exercise of the right to participate in political, economic, cultural, artistic and scientific life. The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning looks at adult education as “a powerful concept for fostering ecologically sustainable development, for promoting democracy, justice, gender equity, and scientific, social and economic development, and for building a world in which violent conflict is replaced by dialogue and a culture of peace based on justice. Adult learning can shape identity and give meaning to life.

Adult learning and education as components of lifelong learning are gaining increased relevance in view of the growing pressure to face new, complex and rapidly changing issues and challenges, such as poverty, exclusion, migration, environmental degradation and climate change and a shortage of food and natural resources, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and the advent of new technologies that now permeate all fields of life.


One foundation for the transition to active adult learning is found in the adult learning theory of Malcolm Knowles in his studies of how adults learn. There are some similarities in the adult and child classroom, although adults generally have distinctly different motivations to engage in learning. The ALC models reflect these differences from traditional teacher-centered models of child and adolescent education.2 Instructors should be familiar with Knowles’ research as a foundation to develop effective lessons and delivering them in a manner best-suited to the learner. Adult learning theory is founded on the principles that effective training are:

- Relevant – to the experience or intended experience of the adult learner. Whereas children and adolescents will attempt to learn content isolated from its application, adults learn best when they see the relevance of the taught concept to their experience
- Engaged – the adult learner retains knowledge and concepts more readily if they are engaged in the process of discovery and exploration rather than being the recipient of information
- Active – the learning process should be active, and replicate as closely as possible the environment within which the skill or knowledge will be applied. Rather than memorizing code sections, adults would retain and apply knowledge more effectively if they worked to discover the content, and then were able to practice its application in a simulation or scenario.
- Learner-centered – The traditional classroom taught concepts and prepared students to pass tests and other measures of their progress. Unfortunately, the student’s retention of that knowledge was often nominal beyond the confines of the class. The emerging intent of police academy training is to produce the most effective outcomes possible; to see students apply classroom skills in a real-world setting. The focus on the learner acquiring knowledge, is a critical step in effective training. Adult Learning Concepts (Malcolm Knowles, et al, 1984)


Enrolling in college does not necessarily mean staying in college. In addition to studying the student models, several researchers have studied variables important for student persistence. The factors that influence traditionally aged students to persist to graduation are quite different from the factors that influence the adult undergraduate. The factors that influence adult undergraduates to persist in their schooling are diverse and complex (Kasworm, 2002), and very different from the factors that influence traditional-age students. “Adult students find that their goals and motives for college attendance are tested, supported, and sometimes diminished by both the collegiate world and their other worlds”. Kasworm delineates five areas of self and society that influence the adults’ navigation through their collegiate experience: work responsibilities, family and significant other responsibilities, financial responsibilities, community responsibilities, student role responsibilities, and responsibilities to self. Often, the role of the student significantly conflicts with the adult undergraduates’ other responsibilities.

As adult students attempt to juggle the other four responsibilities, the ability to spend time on campus is at a premium. Contrary to the results of the research on traditional students, Kasworm (2003) found that adult undergraduates were focused on the classroom, as opposed to peer group or campus involvement, as the main stage for their collegiate experience. These students typically do not have time to socialize on campus, and socialization is less important to the older student (Kasworm& Pike, 1994). They have several external factors competing for their time and energy: jobs, family, and on-going commitments to their external community.

Crucial to the success of a non-traditional student is the environmental support that the student receives from family and faculty. “For non-traditional students, environmentalsupport compensates for weak academic support, but academic support will notcompensate for weak environmental support” (Bean &Metzner, 1985). Several research studies point to the importance of family support toward the persistence to graduation (Bean &Metzner, 1985; Cabrera, & Castaneda, 1994; Sandler, 2000; Scott, Burns, & Cooney, 1998). Ironically, particularly for women, the factors that may motivate women to enroll in college, such as remediation of their life circumstances, which may in fact make it difficult for them to complete their education. It may also mean significantly less support is available. “For instance, returning to study as means of dealing with an unsatisfactory marriage may meet with resistance and hostility from one’s partner to the degree that completing study becomes impossible” (Scott, Burns, & Cooney, 1998).

In some instances, the faculty can substitute for family support. “When the college environment is considered, the primary impact on adults often stems from involvement in relationships with faculty and in class related learning” (Graham, 1998). There is much evidence that adult learners value the development of community within the classroom and the interaction with caring committed faculty (Donaldson & Graham, 1999; Kasworm, 2003; Graham, 1998). In a study on female adult learners, Scott, Burns, and Cooney (1998) found that “the graduates in this study who had experienced a lack of family support were likely to have identified university staff and fellow students as their main source of support” (p. 237). Faculty influence “spans across the educational domain – not only are they involved in knowledge delivery, but they also influence the student’s larger choice of whether or not to remain in school” (Lundquist, Spalding & Landrum, 2002).



There is the need for the collection of data and analysis of relevant information on research. This chapter describes the methods used by the researcher for the collection of relevant information on the factors that triggers adults learning. The chapter therefore examines the population, sample size, sampling procedures, the research instrument for data collection, method of data analysis and the organization’s profile.


The research design for the study is quantitative and descriptive in nature. The evening and weekend students of All Nations University College in Koforidua were the case study chosen and used by the researcher. Questionnaires were used to gather the relevant information and those were handed out by the researcher. It is a quantitative research because it is explained in terms of variables and units of analysis. Descriptive research was used to gain insight into the influencing factors behind adult learning. The responses where coded and analyzed statistically using the statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS).


The study site of a research work is the area or place (town, community, organization, etc.) where the primary data for the research is collected. The research was carried out in All Nations University College in the New Juaben Municipality (Koforidua). The choice of selecting university from this region (Eastern region) is of the fact that the researcher is closer to the study site which makes the research work faster.


A population is the total collection of elements about which we wish to make inferences. The total population for the study is 400 which comprises of 120 evening and 280 weekend students of All Nations University College (Koforidua).


Sample size represents the larger population and is used to draw inferences about that population. According to Krejcie and Morgan statistical table, a population of 400 should have a sample size of 196. Thus, the sample size of this study, will be of 196 students of All Nations University College which comprises of students from the evening and weekend stream.


The researcher employed non-probability sampling method. In this study purposive sampling technique of the non-probability sampling technique was used to seek for information. Purposive because the researcher targeted respondents who had the needed information and are able to give out.


Data are stream of raw facts representing numbers, symbols, images which has not been processed to give information. Data for the research work was collected from both primary and secondary sources. For the primary data collection, questionnaires were administered to respondents and in depth interviews conducted with the view to elicit first-hand information and responses. Questionnaires were chosen as a data collection method because it offers a great assurance of anonymity as protecting respondent identity is of the essence to this research work. The questionnaires will be structured to meet the objectives of the research; questions 1 to 6 will be designed to seek personal information from the respondent. The remaining questions will be designed to meet the objectives of the study. Secondary data on the other hand refers to data gathered from an earlier study of similar topic by other researchers. This is being obtained from self-report, books, journals, publications, articles, internal records of the selected university under study and other materials relevant to the subject.


The researcher employed frequencies, percentage, cumulative percentages to statistically analyse the collected data for the research work using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Moreover, needed explanations were given in order to establish a clearer meaning of the collected data. Descriptive and graphical representations such as tables were used to give a clear picture of the data collected, making analysis of relevant data collected much easier.


A pilot study using ten (10) students of the university under study was used prior to the main study. These respondents were randomly selected to complete the questionnaire. The purpose of the pilot study was to inform the researcher of any faults unanticipated and also help improve upon the items of the final questionnaire. In order to achieve this objectives, the researcher informed the adult students to give comments on ambiguities, relevance of items in relation to the problem of the study. The questionnaires were administered through personal visits to the various departments of the evening and weekend streams under the study (All Nations University College, Koforidua).


All Nations University College (ANUC) is the brain child of Dr Samuel Donkor. The University was incorporated in May 1996. Since opening its doors to students in November 2002, the University has grown steadily from 37 pioneering students to about 2500 students at present.

ANUC has attracted students from diverse countries including Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Romania, Togo, and Zimbabwe. The University has also attracted qualified faculty from around the world. It has developed unique relationships with leading universities in India, providing Ghana and Africa with strong linkages with one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies. Currently, the total number of students in All Nations University College is 2500 students which consist of people from different countries mostly the African countries.

The University is accredited by National accreditation board, Ghana. It is mentored by two Universities, namely;

- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
- SRM University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

ANUC is also in collaboration as well as having a memorandum of understanding with other Universities both in Africa and outside the African continent.

ANUC currently offers the following undergraduate programmes;

- BE Oil and Gas Engineering (Full time and weekend)
- BE Electronics and Communications Engineering (Full time and Weekend)
- BE Biomedical Engineering (Full time and Weekend)
- BE Computer Engineering (Full time and Weekend)
- B.Sc. (Hons). Computer Science (Full time only)
- B.B.A Business Administration (Full time, Evening and Weekend), with options in the following;

- Accounting
- Marketing
- Entrepreneurship
- Banking and Finance
- Human Resource Management

- B.A Biblical Studies with a Minor in Business Administration (Full time)

Diploma Programmes.

- Diploma in Biblical Studies

Certificate programmes

- Certificate-Biblical studies
- Certificate- Information Communication Technology (ICT)


- To enhance cognitive development. Individuals acquire knowledge in order to be able to analyse and assess issues in the right perspective.
- To have a positive influence on individuals so that they may, in turn, have a fruitful change in their lifestyles as a result of growth in their knowledge.
- To help students to practically apply acquired knowledge in their own life, their societies and in every situation or place in which they find themselves.
- To provide a Total Personality Development that incorporates Leadership, Spirituality, Character and Discipline.


To provide quality education which is pursued in a Christian environment of truth and integrity.


To provide quality higher education that promotes development and to raise up leaders with Christian values and ethics for good governance to serve the people.


- ANUC was the first University in Ghana to introduce programmes in Oil and Gas Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Electronics and Communications Engineering.
- In recent tracer studies report graduates of ANUC have been absorbed into the public and private sector with 98% placement.
- ANUC has a 1000 acre land under development for an ultramodern campus.



This chapter deals with the analysis of the data collected by the researcher and their interpretation. Standardized software, Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) was used to work out the tables for interpretation.


TABLE 4.1.1

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Source: Field Survey; January, 2014

The above table is the age group of respondents under the study. It shows the frequency and percentage of respondents’ age. From the table, 40.8% (no=80) are between the ages of 25-35 representing highest number of respondents. 20.9% (no=41) are between the ages of 36-45. Also, 23% (45) are between the ages of 46-55 and 15.3% (no=30) are between the ages of 56&above. This shows that majority of the adult learners are between the ages of 25 and 35 followed by those between the ages of 46 and 55.

TABLE 4.1.2

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Source: field survey, January 2014.

From the table, 56.6% of the respondents are male while 43.4% are female. This shows that the men dominates more than half of the adult learner population based on this particular area of the study.

TABLE 4.1.3

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Source: Field Survey; January 2014.

Table 4.1.3 shows the frequency and percentage of the respondents’ marital status. 50.5% (no=99) are single while 49.5% (no=97) are married.

TABLE 4.1.4

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Source: Field Survey; January 2014.

Table 4.1.4 shows the frequency and percentage of respondents’ work experience. 37.2% (no=73) have work experience between 1-5 years; about 28.6% (56) are with work experience between 6-10 years. 16.3% (no=32) have work experience between 11-15 years and 17.9% (no=35) are with 16 years or more work experience. This could be attributed to the fact most adult learners continue their education in order to develop themselves all way round most especially, their profession.

TABLE 4.1.5

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Source: Field Survey; January 2014.

The table above indicates that 46.4% (no=91) of the respondents are from the business department, 30.6% (no=60) from the engineering department and 23% (no=45) from the humanities department of the case study university. This shows the various departments in the All Nations University College and the business department has the highest adult learners.

TABLE 4.1.6

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Source: Field Survey; January 2014.

The above table indicates that the weekend students are more than the evening students in the university. This can be attributed to the fact in almost every university the evening students are less than the weekend student due to the adult learners’ workdays (Monday-Friday) tight schedule. This is because most adult learners find it more convenient to school during the weekend rather than the evening school. From the table, 35.7% are evening students and 64.3% are weekend students.

TABLE 4.1.7

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Source: Field survey; January, 2014.

Table 4.1.7 shows the frequency and percentage of respondents’ semester in the university. 28.6% (no=56) are between semester one-three which has the highest no of the respondents, about 19.9% (no=39) are between semester four-six. 33.7% (no=66) are between seven-nine and 17.9% (no=35) falls between semester ten-twelve. This could probably be attributed to the fact that the university plays a huge role towards influencing adults to learn or continue their education.

4.2 OBJECTIVE ONE: To Examine the Reasons Why Adults Continue Their Learning

TABLE 4.2.1

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Source: Field Survey; January 2014.

From table 4:2:1 the researcher realize that respondents’ main motivation for starting undergraduate school as per this study was to develop themselves and also to get a recognized qualification. This is confirmed by 54 respondents and 45 respondents respectively. On the other hand the least motivation with a frequency of 28 for starting undergraduate school is to get a promotion/rise in earning at their various work places. Thus majority of adults enroll for undergraduate studies as per this study to mainly develop themselves.

TABLE 4.2.2

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Source: Field Survey; January, 2014.

From the above table shows the sponsors behind the respondents schooling. 15.8% of the respondents are being sponsored by their spouse, 17.9% are sponsored by the organization they are currently working in, 24% are sponsored by their relatives, and 43.3% of the respondents being the highest, sponsor their selves through their education/learning. This therefore shows the increase in individual’s interest and willingness to invest towards their learning.

4.3 OBJECTIVE TWO: To analyze the factors that influence adult undergraduates to persist in their schooling. (Motivation for staying in school after being admitted)

TABLE 4.3.1

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Source: Field Survey; January, 2014.

The above table shows the frequency and percentage to which the respondents are likely to pursue further learning in future. From the table, 59.7% (no=117) are very likely to pursue their learning. 19.4% (38) are fairly likely pursue their learning. Also, 14.3% (no=28) are not very likely to pursue their learning and 6.6% are not at all likely to pursue their learning in future. This indicates that the respondents that are very likely to pursue their learning in the future dominates the adult learners. This could be attributed to the fact that learning has no end. Thus, it is an ongoing process in life.

TABLE 4.3.2

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Source: Field Survey; January 2014.

Table 4:3:2 indicates that 50.5% of the respondents have never thought of ever quitting, 28 percent thinks of quitting their schooling. This shows that majority of adults s as per this study really desire to finish their schooling despite any challenges.

TABLE 4.3.3

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Source: Field Survey; January, 2014.

Table 4.3.3 shows the factors that are likely to cause respondents to quit their studies. From the above, 39.3% feels that work/other time pressures is likely to make them quit their studies, 19.4% feels that they are too old, 20.9% are likely to quit because of distance/transportation cost while the remaining 20.4% are likely to quit their studies because of family commitments that also requires their attention. When the workload/responsibilities to be carried out by an individual is too much alongside with school activities, it leads to frustration and stress upon that individual which could trigger dropout from school/learning. Thus, the employers of adult learners can alleviate dropout from school by being supportive to their employees who are schooling and working through developing personnel policies that can help adults as they pursue postsecondary education.

TABLE 4.3.4

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Source: Field Survey; January 2014

The table above indicates frequency and percentage for factors that influence adults to persist in their schooling once they have been admitted. From this table, the respondents’ progress towards reaching their personal goals and self-confidence serves as the major reasons behind 68.4% of the adult learners to persist in their schooling as per this case study. Thus “progress towards reaching ones goals and self-confidence” which are types of intrinsic motivation are what inspires the respondents more than the other factors.

4.4 OBJECTIVE THREE: To examine the challenges faced by adult learners in continuing their learning.

TABLE 4.4.1

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Source: Field survey; January 2014

The above table shows the percentage and the frequency of the responses given by the respondents on “I find it difficult to finance my learning”. 19.9% of the respondents strongly agreed that they find it difficult to finance their learning, 24.5% Agreed, 11.7% are unsure, 24.5% disagreed and 19.4% strongly disagreed. Respondents that agree with this question are almost the same with those that disagreed. This is one of the major challenges faced by an adult learner because they have so many responsibilities to carter for which might also include their children education too.

TABLE 4.4.2

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Source: field survey; January 2014

Table 4.4.2 shows the frequency and the percentage of the responses given on the question “I cannot access learning in a format that I need”. From the table, 14.8% of the respondents strongly agreed, 29.1% agreed, 13.3% are unsure, 28.6% disagreed and 14.3% strongly disagreed. This shows that the respondents that cannot access learning in the format they need is greater than those that can. The format provided to the adult learner does not suit them. This could be because the adult learner instructor provided are not well trained towards the methods that are used for adult learners

TABLE 4.4.3

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Source: field survey; January 2014

From the table, 13.3% of the respondents agreed that the learning available to them is not applicable to their current situation, 12.2% agreed, 17.9% are unsure, 33.2% disagreed, and 23.5% strongly disagreed. This shows that more than half (56.7%) of the respondents agreed that the learning available to them is applicable to their situation. This could be attributed to the fact that the knowledge provided to the adult learner helps them perform more effectively in their current job or work, even though 25.5% of the respondents are faced with this particular challenge in continuing their learning.

TABLE 4.4.4

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Source: field survey; January 2014

The table shows that 9.7% of the respondents strongly agreed that they do not see how the learning can enable them progress beyond their current situation, 9.2% only agreed, 10.2% are unsure, 33.7% disagreed, and 37.2% strongly disagreed. This shows that 70.9% of the respondents see how the learning can enable them grow beyond their current situation.

TABLE 4.4.5

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Source: field survey; January 2014

Table 4.4.5 shows the percentage and the frequency of the responses given by the respondents on whether the learning available to them are not appropriate to their current employment/resilience challenges. 7.1% of the respondents strongly agreed that they are not appropriate, 15.8% agreed that the learning is not appropriate, 14.3% are unsure, 30.6% disagreed and 32.1% strongly disagreed. More than half of the respondents agreed to the fact that the learning they undergo helps them in their current employment and also to over the resilience challenges they come across, however, 22.5% of the respondents are faced with these challenge.

TABLE 4.4.6

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Source: field survey; January 2014

From the table, 13.3% of the respondents strongly agreed that they are faced with the challenge of not being ready to invest resources and energy in learning at that time, 10.2% agreed to it too, thus, 23.5% of the respondents are faced with this challenge. 13.3% of the respondents are unsure, 30.1% disagreed with the challenge and 33.2% strongly disagreed with it too. This shows that 63.3% of the respondents disagreed with the challenge and thereby ready to invest their resources and energy in learning at that time. Also, this could be attributed to the fact that people now see education as a lifelong investment.

TABLE 4.4.7

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: field survey, January 2014

The above table shows the percentage and frequency of the responses given by the respondents on if they feel that they are too old to learn some of the courses provided. From the table, 14.3% of the respondents strongly agreed that they are faced with this challenge, 11.2% agreed, 8.7% are unsure if they are faced with the challenge or not, 26.5% disagreed and 39.3% strongly disagreed. This shows that more than half (65.8%) of the respondents are sure that are not faced with this challenge. Thus, this could be attributed to the fact that learning has no age limit and it it’s a lifelong process for everyone.



This chapter deals with the summary of findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study on “The Factors that Influence Adults Learning” which area based on the attitudes, views, opinions and feelings expressed by the respondents.


With respect to the research topic on “The Factors that Influence Adults Learning”, the researcher came out with the following findings;

Research Objective 1: To examine the reasons why adults continue their learning.

The researcher found out that, the main reasons behind adults continuing their education are to develop themselves and to get a recognized qualification. Other reasons are to get a promotion/rise in earning, to work more satisfying and to help in their current job. Being able to continue ones learning/education has a lot of benefits attached and these benefits serves as factor that can trigger adults who are not interested in continuing their education/learning to develop interest and zeal toward their learning. From the respondents’ data analysis, it shows that 42.3% of the respondent sponsor themselves through school, which indicates that there has been an increased rate at which adults are ready and willing to invest their resources and energy towards a lifelong learning. The researcher found out that most adult learners continue their learning in order to become an effective and efficient person in all parts of their life.

Research Objective 2: To analyze the factors that influence adult undergraduates to persist in their schooling.

The researcher found out that the rate at which the respondents were willing to continue any other learning in the future was high i.e. 117 out of 196 respondents are willing to further their learning/education. This could be attributed to the fact that learning has no end thus, Education should be seen as a lifelong process for everyone, not something made only for the young people. Enrolling in college does not necessarily mean staying in college, however, most respondents agreed to the fact the progress towards reaching their goals is what makes them to persist in their schooling. The researcher also found that the self-confidence within an adult learner can make them persist in their schooling. Some of the respondents provided that the support they receive from their families, friends, faculties and other students influences them towards staying in school. This could contribute to the fact that for an adult learner to persist in his/her schooling, intrinsic or extrinsic motivation are involved.

Research Objectives 3: To examine the challenges faced by adult learners in continuing their learning.

The researcher found out that the challenges faced more by an adult learner are affordability and accessibility of the learning format they need. Secondly, the researcher found out that the learning pursued by the adult learners enables them to progress beyond their current situation. Some of the respondents agreed to the fact they are too old to learn some of the courses provided for them. Also, the researcher found out that close to half of the respondents find it difficult to finance themselves, this could be as a result of the high fee charge of the institution.


This study aimed to determine the various reasons why adults continue their learning/education, the factors that influence adult learner persistent in the schooling and the challenges they are faced with in the course of schooling.

The researcher concludes that most adults embark on learning programs for the main purpose of developing themselves to become better in the way they operate or do things. However, that intrinsic type of motivation is what keep most of them to persist towards their schooling even though the extrinsic type of motivation plays its role too. In continuing their educations, adults are faced with various challenges which the researcher recommended means through which those challenges could be mitigated by both the university and the society at large.

The sample of this study was selected from only one institution in Ghana. Thus, the results from this study may not be generalizable to adult learners in other institutions and/or countries. Further investigation is needed to confirm the generalizability of the results to broader populations.


Recommendation are given based on the opinions, ideas and expressions made by students on the measures that could be taken towards increasing the rate of adult learners in the society by the universities/institutions and to reduce the rate at which people quit learning/education. The following may be noted:

Payment scheme provided by the university should be made flexible in order to attract more and maintain willing adult learners. This strategy could be used to attract adults who are willing to invest into their learning since there is a high percentage of students who sponsor themselves through their learning.

The researcher also suggests that universities should embark on distances learning programs to facilitate adult learning. This can be used to control the various challenges faced by the adults’ learner in terms of transportation cost. Distance learning allows adult learners who have employment, family, and/or other responsibilities to update knowledge and skills related to their job by saving travel costs and allowing a flexible schedule.

Further, flexible course curriculums should be offered to the adult learners. This is because adult learners learn differently from the traditional-age students. They bring along side with them different experience, attitude, and prior knowledge to the classroom. In other words, learners are less likely to drop out when they are satisfied with the courses, and when the courses are relevant to their own lives.

The adult learner instructor should also be trained on the various means in teaching adult learners since they learn differently from traditional age students. The adult learner instructors are to provide opportunities for adult learners to apply newly acquired knowledge into real situations, learners can feel that the skills and knowledge obtained from the course are useful and satisfactory and thus they can be motivated to persist in the course.

Relevance can be achieved by designing a course that contains learning materials and cases closely related to learners’ interests, experiences, goals, and so forth. Relevance could be established by using learners’ experiences, allowing learners to choose learning methods and strategies, and meeting learners’ expectations and goals. Adult learners can easily lose motivation unless the course is designed to stimulate their active participation and interaction and meet their expectations. Therefore, an adult learner course needs to be designed in ways to guarantee learners’ satisfaction and be relevant to learners’ needs.

Employers should be encouraged to offer Lifelong Learning Accounts or other educational assistance benefits and develop personnel policies that can help adults as they pursue postsecondary education.

Financial aid clearly is a concern for both traditional and nontraditional students. By offering a variety of financial aid options, aid for less-than-half-time students, guidance about obtaining financial aid, and a comprehensive information resource for financial aid, the state can help make education more accessible to adult learners. Adults have many competing demands for their discretionary income. With financial incentives using federal, state, and institutional funds, postsecondary institutions can provide an incentive to persuade adults to take one or two college classes and start down the path to degree completion.


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Dear student, below is a list of questionnaires on the topic ‘The Factors That Triggers Adults Learning. A Case Study of All Nations University College, Koforidua Ghana”. I will be glad if you take time to answer these questions. Your response will assist in systematically improving an academic body of knowledge that could serve as a reference point. Thank you.


Please kindly tick or write in the appropriate box where necessary, and provide information to the following questions:

1. Age Category

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2. Gender

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3. Marital Status

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4. Work Experience

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5. Department

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6. Stream

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7. Semester

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SECTION B To examine the reasons why adults continue their learning.

(You can Tick () one, two or all of the above options)

8. What was your motivation starting undergraduate School?

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SECTION C To analyze the factors that influence adult undergraduates to persist in their schooling.

10. How likely is it that you will pursue any learning in the future?

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11. Do you ever think of quitting?

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12. Which factor is likely to cause you to quit your studies?

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13. Which of the following factor influences you to persist in your schooling?

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SECTION D To examine the challenges faced by adult learners in continuing their learning.

Please we would like to know your view about each of the following:

(1)Strongly agree (2) Agree (3) Unsure (4) Disagree (5) Disagree Strongly

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Others, please specify…

67 of 67 pages


Adult Learning. Influencing Factors
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ISBN (Book)
File size
817 KB
Adult learning, personal development, universities, learning
Quote paper
Florence Ibeh (Author), 2010, Adult Learning. Influencing Factors, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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