Adult Learner

Systems Change

Factor Connections

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Emotions are complex psychological states stemming from a person's experiences. They affect our minds and bodies, and can support or hinder learning. Engagement in adult learning has the potential to have a positive impact on an adult's emotional well-being and life satisfaction.

Main Ideas

Adults should be able to understand their own and others' complex emotions. Cultural and family differences can impact how emotions are expressed and recognized in others. There are several additional aspects of Emotion that can interact with adult learning.

  • Emotion regulation is the ability to control positive and negative emotional arousal to function adaptively (e.g., complete daily tasks, cope with changes in the environment) and is an important aspect of social competence. Adults tend to engage in emotion regulation strategies that maintain higher levels of positive emotions and limit negative experiences.
  • Mental health is the combination of our emotional and psychological well-being and adjustment. Emotions are dynamic and fluctuate over time, so it is normal to experience both positive and negative emotions. The prevalence of mental illness symptoms such as depression is lower in older adults than younger adults.

Emotion regulation is critical to managing the stressors of adulthood, particularly for adult learners who may have greater stress due to family, job, and career obligations, poverty, and other trauma. Negative prior experiences in school, overall or with particular content such as math or reading, can cause anxiety and negatively impact emotional well-being. Conversely, positive experiences and accomplishments as adult learners can help support greater emotional well-being, especially when adults are engaged and enjoy their learning experience. Adults who tend to experience more positive than negative emotions overall, and who are able to successfully manage and minimize stress, will have better general psychological well-being.

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