Adult Learner

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Adult Learner > Factors > Learner Mindset

Learner Mindset

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Learner Mindset includes learners' self-concept and self-efficacy beliefs as well as their persistence at learning tasks. The beliefs that adults have about themselves as learners can have a cyclical relationship with achievement (i.e., previous academic achievement fosters particular beliefs which in turn predict future achievement).

Main Ideas

Learners' mindset includes beliefs about their own ability and about the effort required to overcome barriers to learning. Learners may view failure and having to put in effort on a task as a sign that they lack ability (i.e., "fixed mindset") rather than viewing failure and effort as useful and necessary for learning (i.e., "growth mindset"). Learner attitudes and beliefs can be shaped by others in their learning environments. These components contribute to an adult's readiness to learn and take advantage of opportunities.

  • Self-concept: Adult learners may or may not identify as academic learners and may not recognize their informal learning and knowledge as valuable. Similarly, adults may enjoy reading for pleasure but not identify as "readers" in educational settings. Adult learners may need support in building these positive academic self-concepts, particularly if they have learning disabilities, ADHD, or have had negative past experiences with schooling.
  • Self-efficacy: Self-efficacy includes a learner's confidence and belief in their ability to complete a task. A person's self-efficacy can differ based on the domain in life (e.g., work, parenting, learning) and content (e.g., reading, math). A learner with high self-efficacy has the belief that they are capable of shaping their environment and their own academic outcomes. Successfully engaging in learning can improve adults' academic self-efficacy.
  • Persistence: Adult learners must typically engage in long-term training to see benefits. Their persistence consists of the intensity (e.g., hours per month) and duration (e.g., number of months) of their engagement as well as their willingness to work through challenges. However, there is a high rate of attrition in adult education as learners face many barriers to access. Developing self-advocacy skills to be able to communicate learning needs supports greater persistence in learning and may be particularly valuable for students with learning disabilities.

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