A Brief History of Research and Theory on Adult Learning and Cognition

Authored by: Dennis Thompson

Handbook of Research on Adult Learning and Development

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  November  2008

Print ISBN: 9780805858198
eBook ISBN: 9780203887882
Adobe ISBN: 9781135597405


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When one examines the research on cognitive aging and the theory on adult learning, one is essentially looking at two different fields which to a large extent developed independently of one another, but today form much of the knowledge base of adult cognitive development. This chapter will seek to explore the history of these areas of inquiry beginning with the pre-scientific era, then will turn to the period ranging from the early 1920s to the 1950s, and then look in more general terms at the modern era. The focus will be on offering a picture of the road traveled leading to where we are today. Attention will be paid to the people, the research, the theory, and some of the dynamics behind what took place.

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