The demographics of college students are shifting rapidly and dramatically as more adults start college after working, return to college to continue their post-secondary education, seek training to further their careers, and generally engage in the life-long learning that our knowledge society increasingly demands. These adult students differ in their approach to learning from traditional-aged college students, and their presence can create teaching challenges for faculty. Below are resources to help faculty understand and work with the needs of adult students.

30 Things We Know For Sure About Adult Learners offers an overview from the adult learning literature of adult motivations to learn, curriculum considerations when teaching adults, and classroom and teaching considerations.

Principles of Adult Learning  discusses ways that adults differ from children and adolescents as learners, barriers to adults' motivation to learn, and teaching approaches that maximize adult student learning.

Teaching Adults: Is it Different? This ERIC Digest discusses the research on teaching adults.

Individualizing Instruction: Making Learning Personal, Powerful, and Successful by Roger Hiemstra and Burt Cisco is a book adapted to the web that introduces, explains, and offers extensive resources for the process of individualizing instruction to address adult learning needs. Chapters include Learners in Adulthood: Why They're Not Just Big Kids, Six Steps to Individualizing Instruction, and Common Concerns About the Individualizing Process. This resource is a very clear articulation of reasons to address adult learners' needs and practical, implementable methods to do so.

For more information on this or any teaching related topic, please contact the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (x3499) or

Page last modified August 1, 2012