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The relationship between the prior school lives of adult educators and their beliefs about teaching adults

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Research in the K-12 field about teaching beliefs reveals that past school experiences have a tremendous influence on educators' present beliefs about teaching. However, little research exists regarding the nature of teaching beliefs of adult educators, particularly how their prior school experiences relate to their present beliefs about teaching adults. It was the purpose of this qualitative study involving 16 practising adult educators to understand the relationship of their early school lives and their present beliefs about teaching adults. Findings reveal that: (a) past positive teacher models mirror present descriptions of ideal teachers and present descriptions of self as a teacher; (b) past positive teaching experiences are about making the act of imparting knowledge more engaging and interesting; (c) past positive learning experiences relate to present conceptions of learning; (d) past conceptions of self as a student reflect present expectations of adult students; and (e) past cultural experiences are reflected in present descriptions of adult students. The implications of this study are significant because teaching beliefs of adult educators seem rooted in school experiences as a child or young adult and they begin to undermine the assumption that the teaching of adults is different from the teaching of children.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: PennState University--Capitol College, PA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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