Skip to main content

Third Update on Adult Learning Theory: New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Number 119

Third Update on Adult Learning Theory: New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Number 119

Sharan B. Merriam (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-470-41785-0

Nov 2008, Jossey-Bass

96 pages

In Stock



This Third Update on Adult Learning Theory follows two earlier volumes on the same topic, the first published in 1993 and the second in 2001. Only one topic, transformative learning theory, can be found in all three updates, representing the continuing developments in research and alternative theoretical conceptions of TL.

Thanks to a growing body of research and theory-building, three topics briefly touched on in 2001 are now separate chapters in this third update:

  • spirituality and adult learning
  • learning through the body
  • narrative learning in adulthood

Also new in this update is a chapter on non-Western perspectives on learning and knowing. New developments in two other areas are also explored: understanding the connection between the brain and learning, and how modern and postmodern ways of knowing are converging and are bring expressed in social movements. The concluding chapter identifies two trends in adult learning theory for the twenty-first century: attention to context, and to the holistic nature of learning in adulthood.

This is 119th volume of the Jossey-Bass quarterly report series New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. Noted for its depth of coverage, New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education is an indispensable series that explores issues of common interest to instructors, administrators, counselors, and policymakers in a broad range of adult and continuing education settings, such as colleges and universities, extension programs, businesses, libraries, and museums.

EDITOR'S NOTES (Sharan B. Merriam).

1. Transformative Learning Theory (Edward W. Taylor)
Empirical research on transformative learning has burgeoned in the last decade, as have alternative theoretical conceptions to theories first proposed by Mezirow and Freire.

2. Workplace Learning: Emerging Trends and New Perspectives (Tara Fenwick)
Workplace learning is much more than training; attention is turning to practice-based perspectives and power and politics in workplace learning.

3. Spirituality and Adult Learning (Elizabeth J. Tisdell)
Spirituality and spiritual development are, or can be, integral to an adult's learning experiences.

4. Learning Through the Body (Tammy J. Freiler)
Embodied learning as another way of knowing and the body as a site of learning are explored in this chapter.

5. Teaching with the Brain in Mind (Kathleen Taylor, Annalee Lamoreaux)
New research in neuroscience is revealing how the brain translates experience into learning and how learning changes the brain.

6. Narrative Learning in Adulthood (M. Carolyn Clark, Marsha Rossiter)
Narrative learning—learning through stories and storying our experiences—is legitimizing an ancient form of human learning.

7. Non-Western Perspectives on Learning and Knowing (Sharan B. Merriam, Young Sek Kim)
Indigenous knowledge and non-Western religious and philosophical systems are challenging our historically cognitive processing orientation to adult learning.

8. Troubling Adult Learning in the Present Time (Robert J. Hill)
Modern and postmodern ways of knowing are converging in a new New Social Movement.

9. Adult Learning Theory for the Twenty-First Century (Sharan B. Merriam)
Attention to contexts in which learning takes place as well as the holistic nature of learning are characterizing movements in adult learning theory today.