Understanding the Adult Learner — Theory and Skills to Become a More Effective Professional Learning Designer and Facilitator

Course Available
3 Units
Online Self-Paced

Course Description

Shift from Creating and Teaching Curriculum for K-12 Students to Designing and Presenting Professional Learning Experiences for Adult Learners

This course will focus on building understanding by the participant of the differences that exist between working with adult learners as opposed to typical K-12 students. This course will use Andragogy as the foundation for Adult Learning Theory. The learner will gain an understanding of how an adult most successfully gains and accepts knowledge. The learner will gain an understanding of how to leverage this successfully when developing professional learning for peers and other adults. The learner will gain practical tools not only in how to design effective learning experiences for adults but also how to know when adults are ready to receive knowledge. This course will be a blend of theory and application which will leave the learner capable and prepared to better meet the needs of any adult learners they may work with.

NOTE:  This course is not applicable toward Adult Education preliminary credential in California.

Course Details

Number of Units: 3.0 graduate level extension credit(s) in semester hours

Who Should Attend: This course provides continuing education for any educator looking to hone skills in designing and facilitating professional learning experiences for other adults (workshops, trainings, presentations, courses) by understanding adult learning theory and implementing skills to reach the adult learner.

Course Materials: Text, The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development (9th Edition) by Malcolm Knowles, Elwood Holton III, Richard Swanson, and Petra Robinson available at Amazon.com or your local bookstore.  Ebook and paperback versions are available. This same book will be used in the following two courses (EDU-X716S and EDU-X717S) in the Professional Development Facilitation and Leadership Certificate Program.

Technical Requirements

Course Options

Course Date Units Price
EDU-X797R – 005 Start now, you have 180 days to complete this course once enrolled 3 $504

Understanding the Adult Learner — Theory and Skills to Become a More Effective Professional Learning Designer and Facilitator

Start now, you have 180 days to complete this course once enrolled
Online Self-Paced
Kevin Popadines

Once you have enrolled in your course, log in to your account to access the course Welcome Letter, which includes directions on how to access the Online Orientation and your online course.

What You Will Learn

  • Gain the knowledge and skills necessary to design more effective professional learning for adult learners
  • Know and understand the differences between pedagogy and andragogy
  • Understand how the differences between pedagogy and andragogy can be a difficult yet important shift for educators of K-12 students who are asked to provide professional development for colleagues  
  • Know and understand why learning experiences meant for adult learners that are not designed with andragogy principles can be ineffective
  • Learn and understand how even great design may not be able to overcome learners who are not ready for learning experiences
  • Gain an understanding of the six assumptions of andragogy and how to leverage them when designing professional learning
  • Understand and be able to apply the andragogical process model for learning when designing professional learning for adult learners


Professional development courses offered by the University of San Diego’s Division of Professional & Continuing Education are taught by faculty that possess a depth and breadth of academic and real-world professional experience.

Why USD?

The Professional and Continuing Education program nurtures key partnerships on the local, national, and international level. The goal is to better serve working professionals who seek to enhance or build their careers and help achieve their highest value and potential. Contact us today to learn more.

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Learning Method Information

Courses offer a convenient, yet rigorous style of learning that allows you to structure your education to suit your schedule while keeping you on pace toward achieving your educational.

Online Self-Paced

Our online self-paced courses are similar to online fixed-date courses, but are designed to give you a six-month period from time of enrollment to complete all assignments. Your instructor will provide feedback via written responses on your assignments and exams. Grades are based on completed projects, assignments and exams.

How is the self-paced course structured? Like fixed-date courses, online self-paced courses are asynchronous meaning that you can work on your assignments anytime; the difference being there are no assigned due dates in self-paced courses. The content is divided into learning modules. Each module will cover one or more topics. Within each of the learning modules, you can expect the following components:

  • Module introduction that outlines what you can expect to learn in the module.
  • Required readings (textbook, articles, journals, websites, etc.) and presentations (audio and/or video).
  • Assignments (which may include: written assignments, quizzes, blogs, etc.) based on the readings and presentations.
  • Module conclusion to review the topics and what you should have learned.
  • Typically, there is a final project, paper, or exam due in the last module that culminates all of the topics covered in each of the learning modules. You’ll find that the design of the learning modules has a rhythm to help you manage your time in the course.

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Appropriately challenging course with well design module assignments. One of the best USD courses I have taken.