How a better understanding of adult learning can help improve your practice as a nurse administrator

Can J Nurs Adm. Nov-Dec 1995;8(4):7-22.


Theorists tell us that we are smack in the middle of the information age. We cannot help but realize that knowledge is expanding exponentially. The challenge for us as nurses and as nurse leaders is to "keep up", and to do so in a manner which is both efficient and effective. The education of nurses (both basic and ongoing) has historically operated in the pedagogical mode. Nurse learners were expected to be ready and willing to "absorb" whatever the teacher gave out. They were not to demonstrate too much initiative, nor were they held responsible for what or how they learned. Their nursing experience (even when that experience was significant) counted for little. Furthermore, individual nurses have rarely been afforded the opportunity to examine how they learn. Nor have nurse leaders taken into consideration their protegees' preferred learning styles. As a profession, we are very slow to accept and utilize modern principles and practices of learning--principles and practices which we desperately need to cope with the challenges of the information explosion! In undertaking this literature search, I chose to focus on theories of adult and organizational learning, and selected a variety of theories which I believe are timely and relevant to this task.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Models, Educational*
  • Models, Nursing*
  • Nurse Administrators
  • Psychology, Educational