Why Curriculum differes for Adult learners and Young learners?

Assume that you were asked to design two curricula, one for adult and one for children.  What are the essential areas you will include in these curricula? What are the basic changes that you will take into account due to creating designs for different age- groups? Do elements of the two curricula will be totally different from each other in terms of the content, goals, and expectations?

This was a question asked by my classmate in ‘Psychology for adult learner’ class,  and here is my answer-

The content, goals and expectations will certainly differ in designing curriculum for both the audiences.

As an adult educator myself, I understand that in order to effectively facilitate adult learning, it is essential to get familiar with characteristics of the adult learners for whom you are designing the curricula. We all know that there are a plethora of theories on teaching adults over children. However, here are few things to consider;

Content – Adult learners are busy with other things in their life, which means they have less time to spend on a whole lot of books just to get to know a small theory. The point here is, it should be easier to find what and when the learner needs in ‘bite size chunks’. It is always a good idea to develop objective based instruction. Introducing different format of delivery content may also be a good idea. These things are not at all possible for children curriculum.

Goals – Adult learning has to be applicable to their profession, goals, life-span and personal progress. The curriculum has to match with their needs and convey solutions that are practical. Again time and busy schedule play a big role here. An instructor can keep this in mind and present clear objectives to the learners and can ask them to design their own curriculum. Lately, many universities are providing options to the learners to tailor a degree program according to their needs. This can be achieved by adult learners because they are self-directed but children are always dependent on the instructor.

For children designing needs based curriculum is impossible as they have to gain knowledge of the overall subject, whether they like it or not. Children do not have any goals they study because ‘they have to’.

Expectations – While gaining knowledge Adults bring huge life experiences with them gathered from their workplace, education, etc. It is important to ask them to relate the given topic with their life experiences. The key point is to encourage them participate and share their knowledge. Adult learners expect to progress through every step of their learning period. Children are not much concerned with the progress in the initial stages.


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.


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