Adults Learning (4th edition)

Author(s) Rogers, Jenny
Publisher Open University Press
Published 2001
Pages 240
ISBN 0335206778
Reviewed by Stuart Trickey
School of Education, Sheffield Hallam University
Review published 1 December 2004

Not many titles survive 30 years, but this is one of them. In various editions, Adults Learning has sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide and has been translated into several languages including Chinese and Japanese. First written in that period in the early 1970s when there was a surge of interest in teaching and learning methods in further, higher and adult education, Adults Learning took its place with classic texts such as Donald Bligh's What's the Use of Lectures? (1972) and Ruth Beard's Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (1970). It was then and still is, in its new fourth edition, a highly readable, adequately comprehensive and immensely enjoyable book for anyone new to the teaching of adults. Some may remember the sister volume Adults in Education, by the same author and published by the BBC in 1972, which also seemed to remain on reading lists for a decade or more.

So what does the new edition offer? It provides well-argued, up-to-date discussion in lively prose on what you need to know about adult learners, learning styles, getting started, and handling small groups, as well as sound advice on teaching methods, such as lectures and demonstrations, role play, discussion and facilitation. New chapters deal with tutoring open learners, coaching and mentoring; and a final chapter provides that now essential section on evaluating learning to help teachers and trainers cope with the post-modern obsession with accountability and the associated manifestations of internal scrutiny and external inspection.

The text is peppered with anecdotes and quotations from adult learners which create a sense of reality. It is not the kind of book which launches into erudite psychological models of learning and learning styles and this will undoubtedly disappoint some readers. Also disappointed may be those who are looking for help with online learning and e-learning in general, but perhaps that's waiting for the fifth edition.

This book aims to build confidence in novice teachers and trainers, to offer clear alternative approaches and to engender the thrill of teaching adults in a variety of settings. As such, it deserves to be as successful as its earlier editions.