Date of Conferral
Dr. Catherine Marienau
The enrollment of college students in the United States who are classified as adult learners will continue to grow, bringing new challenges to degree programs. Multiple studies have provided insight into how best to teach these learners. However, to maximize learning, institutions must now consider strategies that merge adult learning principles with the integration of technology and students' personal and professional networks. Connectivism, based largely on the work of Siemens, and andragogy, based on Knowles, provided the conceptual framework that guided this basic qualitative interpretive study that examined how instructors experience and interpret the characteristics of connectivism (autonomy, openness, diversity, and connectedness) and their impact on students' learning. Ten instructors teaching adult learners were recruited using the LinkedIn social media tool. Data were coded using categories based on the four characteristics of connectivism, and a thematic analysis of the data generated four themes: fostering self-direction and student decision to learn (autonomy); teacher disposition, sharing experience, and effective dialogue (openness); depth or variation of experience, outside resources, and learning from others (diversity); and encouraging engagement, collaboration, and learning for engagement (interactivity/connectedness). This work may be useful to faculty and administrators needing to develop strategies to incorporate andragogical strategies with new learning technologies to contribute to positive social change by better meeting the needs of adult learners.