Resources: New Study Identifies Effective Adult Learning Practices

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" Researchers Carl J. Dunst and Carol M. Trivette at the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute recently published a meta-analysis of adult learning methods identifying  effective adult learning practices and the conditions under which optimal learner benefits are supported."

Carl J. Dunst, Ph.D.

Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute

Carol Trivette, Ph.D.

Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute

Researchers Carl J. Dunst and Carol M. Trivette at the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute recently completed a meta-analysis of 58 studies examining four different adult learning methods to identify which particular practices were associated with improvements in learner knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy beliefs. A particular focus was to identify the conditions under which different combinations of the most impactful adult learning practices have optimal learner benefits. Results from the analyses were recently reported in the Journal of Social Sciences.

Practices examined in the meta-analysis included:

  1. methods used by a trainer or coach to introduce and illustrate a new practice,
  2. learners’ use and experiential evaluation of the new practice, and
  3. learner self-assessment of the practice, as facilitated by a coach or trainer.

Unpacking the results led to a number of insights about the conditions under which adult learning practices might be associated with greater impact.

Findings showed that optimal learner benefits occurred when 4 or 5 of six evidence-based practices were incorporated into training sessions that were spread out over at least 20 nonconsecutive hours. Trainings were also more likely to be effective when limited to a small number of learners and when trainings were held in learners’ routine work environments.

Results from this meta-analysis were used by Dunst, Trivette, and their colleagues to develop and provide training to early childhood practitioners and parents to promote their use of various evidence-based practices. The use of evidence-based adult learning practices, such as these identified by Dunst and Trivette, is a core component of the Active Implementation Frameworks identified by NIRN for quality and sustainable implementation of innovations in human services.  Empirically examining the interplay between implementation practices and intervention practices is now the focus of additional investigation by Puckett Institute researchers. Their goal is to better understand how to conceptualize and interface implementation research and practice.

Full reference for the Dunst and Trivette meta-analysis:

Dunst, C. J., & Trivette, C. M. (2012). Moderators of the effectiveness of adult learning method practices. Journal of Social Sciences, 8, 143-148.

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