An Overview of Adult Learning Processes

Sally S. Russell, MN, CMSRN, CPP


Urol Nurs. 2006;26(5):349-352, 370. 

In This Article

Barriers to Learning

The adult learner has many responsibilities that must be balanced against the demands of learning. Because of these responsibilities, adults may have barriers against participating in learning. Some of these barriers include (a) lack of time, (b) lack of confidence, (c) lack of information about opportunities to learn, (d) scheduling problems, (e) lack of motivation, and (f) "red tape" (Lieb, 1991). If the learner does not see the need for the change in behavior or knowledge, a barrier exits. Likewise, if the learner can not apply learning to his/her past experiential or educational situations, the teacher will have barriers to overcome. As health care providers, urologic nurses need to find ways to motivate patients, enhance their reasons for learning, and decrease barriers if possible. A successful strategy includes showing the adult learner the relationship between the knowledge/skill and the expected positive outcome.

As educators, urologic nurses must be aware of possible environmental and emotional barriers to patient education. Adults are more sensitive to discomfort so the physical setting, room temperature, lighting, and noise level should be as comfortable as possible. Providing an ambient room temperature is especially important for older adults who may chill more easily. If the learner has hearing or vision impairments, this can impact the educational process and possibly make the patient appear insecure or unable to comprehend the information. If not corrected, eventually the learner may become less willing to participate in the learning experience. Emotional connection to the learner is perhaps the most elusive barrier to overcome between teacher and learner. Any teacher who can make a learner believe that he/she is capable of learning a skill/knowledge has already met an important goal of the teaching/learning experience.


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