Adult Learning

This brief gives an overview of adult learning


The adage, ‘experience is the best teacher,’ is unassailable. Adults are learning constantly, so long as they are experiencing their environments with some degree of consciousness. Irrespective of the commonplace of informal adult learning, the practice of adult education focuses on several more-or-less institutional contexts for adult learning. Adult literacy and basic education includes, most prominently, adult literacy instruction, but also might include teaching home financial management skills, or civics for those seeking citizenship. Workplace education is another common context for adult learning. Workplace education has traditionally been framed in terms of providing workers with skills to improve their productivity or for retooling them when old work assignments become obsolete. Research on program needs and efficacy is conducted at worksites such as factories where workers need updated skills and in the armed forces, where recruits require training in military protocols and technology. A topic of keen interest within workplace education pertains to the notion of situated cognition, the degree to which knowledge and learning is inextricably linked to the particular context in which that knowledge is used. Thus learning to program a production line robot is intimately embedded in the culture of the factory floor.


World Bank. 2010. Adult learning. Communication for Governance and Accountability Program (CommGAP). Washington, DC: World Bank, 9p

Adult Learning

Published 1 January 2009