The Progression of an Adult Learner in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


In this paper, the author traces her progression as an adult learner in the Critical and Creative Thinking program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. In examining this process, she makes connections to many, but primarily incorporates the writings and research of Knowles, Wlodkowski, Deci, Amabile, Perkins, Jay and Tishman to form her framework. The author’s experience is examined from three perspectives: the characteristics, traits, and motivations of adult learners, the characteristics of a novice and expert in a field, and the characteristics of effective critical and creative thinking. The paper is designed as a portfolio of this author’s work in the program. It illustrates the author’s learning from the early stages as she expresses her desire to explore new concepts and skills in graduate school, to the later stages of her learning, when she is able to synthesize and manipulate information in order to make it useful in their own profession, that of an adult educator. A narrative introduces the portfolio and provides an overview of the author’s learning experience in relation to the pieces contained in the portfolio and how they reflect the theories of adult education as viewed by specialists and psychologists. Each entry in the portfolio is preceded by an introduction to the piece, describing the background of the project. Following the project is a reflective entry included to describe critical and creative thinking employed and insights on the project. The entries are arranged in an order to represent the progression of learning over time. It is apparent in the beginning of her graduate program, that the author’s learning is more remote and subject centered. Over the course of her schooling, her learning focus shifts to an immediate, performance centered orientation. Because the author is an educator of adults, she concludes that her learning experiences correlate with those often experienced by adult learners. This knowledge, combined with the insight she gained to her own higher level thinking skills will better inform her teaching and management of employees in the future.


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