• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Foundational Theories of Adult Learning

Page history last edited by Debra Lee 15 years ago

Foundation Theories of Adult Learning


Merriam (2001) in her review of adult learning for the 21st century, names three adult learning theories that have reached the status of foundation theories of adult learning:



Self-Directed Learning

Transformational Learning


Short synopses of these theories can be found on their individual pages. However, the reader should be aware that the foundational theories are not without controversy. Some would say that andragogy is not itself a theory, but a practice guide (Pratt, 1993). Others might point out that self-directed learning research is declining, but should not be ignored (Brockett, 2000).  Others would argue that researchers of transformational learning should consider also cognitive development research (Merriam, 2004).




Brockett, R. G., Stockdale, S. L., Fogerson, D. L., Cox, B. F., Canipe, J. B., Chuprina, L. A., et al. (2000). Two Decades of Literature on Self-Directed Learning: A Content Analysis. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Adult Education Research Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2000.


Merriam, S. B. (2001). Something old, something new: Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 89, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Merriam, S. B. (2004). The role of cognitive development in Merzirow's transformational learning theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 55, 60-68.


Pratt, D. D. Andragogy after twenty-five years. In S. B. Merriam (ed.) Update on Adult Learning Theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 57, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.




Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.