Archive for December 2013

2013 Annual Report In Review For My Blog…The Eternal Student   4 comments

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Limitations Explored In Adult Learning   Leave a comment

There are many potential limitations of adult development stage theories. Limitations are described by Courtenay (1994), “…despite the fact that the stage proponents admit that some adults may deliberately choose not to grow, they continue to attribute normalcy to growth” (p. 150). The question then becomes what is normal? Taylor (1996) commented, “So, no matter how old someone is, we may safely say that further adult development simply has not happened yet. Given the right circumstances and supports, this person may well develop further” (p. 57). In reading about Asian men growing taller in the U.S. then in their homeland brings into account the environment and how it affects adult learners physically, emotionally, in their faith, and  even psychologically. Theories mainly focus on one aspect and find it difficult to incorporate the many facets that are incorporated in adult learning.

According to Taylor (1996) who explains, “…that Courtenay is troubled not by the indistinct terminology, but by the apparent lack of consistency with which these models attempt to describe different aspects of the same human phenomenon” (p. 56).To have one theory that will says it all, incorporating all the complexities of adult learning must also include narrative perspectives. Narrative perspectives provide different insights into adult development and adult learning as new lenses are worn in order to view adult learning. Rossiter (1999) noted, “Self as narrative. Central also to the narrative perspective is the idea that the self is not a fixed entity, an autonomous agent, moving through a developmental sequence, but rather, the self is an unfolding story” (p. 62). These theories must also include the fact that as humans we are constantly changing as well as our environments.

One theme that was apparent had been the vagueness issue regarding limitations. The stage theory is criticized due to the vague information received for instance, in Fowler’s (1981) study only one adult learner in three hundred and fifty-nine individuals reported reaching self-identity and faith development. (Courtenay, 1994, para. p.151). In reviewing the limitations of the conventionalist’s position Overton (1984) reported, “…that in avoiding the issue of meaning it leads to a worse-case scenario of vagueness, ambiguity, and degenerate eclectism” (p. 213). The phase models of development as Courtenay (1994) suggests, “…that the final stages are too vaguely defined in these models of development, and this ambiguity with respect to developmental endpoint limits their value to the adult education practitioner. (Rossiter, 1999, 57).


Courtenay, B.C. (1994, Spring). Are psychological models of adult development still important for the practice of adult education? Adult Education Quarterly, 44 (3), 145-153. Retrieved from,

Overton, W.F. (1984). World views and their influence on psychological theory and research: Kuhn-Lakatos-Lauday. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 18, 191-226. Retrieved from,

Rossiter, M. (1999). A narrative approach to development: Implications for adult education. Adult Education Quarterly, 50(1), 56-71.  Retrieved from,

Taylor, K. (1996, Fall). Why psychological models of adult development are important for the practice of adult education: A response to Courtenay. Adult Education Quarterly, 47 (1), 54-62. Retrieved from,


The shield of cognitive sensory memory in adult learning   Leave a comment


            In order to learn, a learner must retain certain information to build upon for future use to make decisions. How does an adult learner encode, process and store information? Research had proven that cognitive sensory memory, the first level of memory can increase an adult learner’s decision accuracy. It is the short term memory associated with our sense of hearing, touching (haptic), seeing, smelling, and tasting which helps in creating sensory input patterns. As Vlassova & Pearson (2013) noted, “…the short-term advantage of iconic-sensory memory [visual, audio, and touch] is not only limited to item recollection but also can be used to improve decision accuracy” (p. 1641). What occurs when a student is having difficulty in learning through cognitive sensory memory? It became the responsibility of the educator to understand the needs of the learner and explore why certain patterns have failed. One cannot learn without taking in and storing information through sensory input patterns which leads to short term or long term memory.

This research overview considers key questions:

            1. Does cognitive sensory memory produce patterns of behavioral changes for lifelong  learning?

            2. Is there a connection between andragogy and cognitive sensory memory?

            3. How does an adult learner’s learning style affect their cognitive sensory memory?

            To understand the complexity of an adult learner and how they learn means exploring their learning styles as Dunn and Dunn (1992; 1993; 1999) mentioned, “Learning style is the way in which each learner begins to concentrate on, process, absorb, and retain new and difficult information (Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, 2009, p. 107). It is their sensory input patterns relating to their memory that results in change as Shuell (1986) commented “…there is a change in a person’s behavior or ability, the change is the result of experience or practice, and the change is persistent (Bowman, Frame, & Kennette, 2013).


            In this present study, the focus lied on cognitive sensory memory and andragogy. Two participants, both were aware of the study; one resides in Florida, the second, in Texas. Both subjects are working class, have their associate’s degree, one had no interest to continue in formal education while the other will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree next fall. One is heterosexual while the other is transgender, both male. Their educational backgrounds differ in that participant one finished high school and had an associate degree and is not continuing with formal education while participant two holds an associate degree and has two classes to complete before receiving a bachelor’s degree. A questionnaire of 18 questions had been posed to the partakers.

Does cognitive sensory memory produce patterns of behavioral changes for lifelong learning?

            According to Lamb (2011), “Lifelong learning is not determined by where you learn, but how. It can be best defined as “a cognitive process by which [adults] continue to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes over their behaviors and environmental contexts can enhance their cognitive functioning and development in adulthood and old age” (Lamb, 2011, p. 1 as cited in Wolfe, 2013, Discussion). Cognitive skills are based on the ability to store and recall information. Cognitive sensory memory features sensory input patterns which could be auditory, visual, touch, etc. (Wolfe, 2013, Discussion).

            It is through our sensory memory that patterns flow into our short term memory for a few milliseconds, into our conscious memory and then a decision of whether to transfer the new information long term memory or discard is made. If an adult learner is familiar with the configurations, the new patterns become interesting and stored away for future use changing the reflection on the pattern for example, problem solutions are can be stored a lifetime as patterns in memory while changing the learner (Wolfe, Discussion, Nov 24). Currently researchers are combining short term and long term memory together and calling it, a working memory as Baddeley (2003) commented, “More recent memory models incorporate the short-term and long-term components into one memory system that accounts for working memory (temporary storage and processing and long-term memory) (Bowman, Frame & Kennette, 2013, p. 9).

Is there a relationship between andragogy and cognitive sensory memory?

            Malcolm Knowles, a theorist in adult education wrote about and reported on andragogy which was based on the adult learner who was self-directed and takes responsibility for their decisions. Andragogy draws on humanism and humans rely on sensory patterns associated with the five senses in order to learn and grow. In order for an adult learner to be self-directed they must have life experiences in order to build upon, without cognitive sensory memory there can be no connections in order to reach a higher level of autonomy. How can an adult learner self-identify without the knowledge of experiences? It appears impossible since self-identity is about knowledge and acquiring skills/abilities, personal characteristics, career, and personal interests all intertwined with working memory which began with the cognitive sensory input. According to  Riding et al. (2003), “There is evidence that effective WMC [working memory capacity] differs among individuals and this difference affects a wide range of cognitive tasks such as reasoning, acquiring new vocabulary words, reading comprehension and problem solving” (Kyndt, Cascallar, & Dochy, 2012, p. 287).

 How does an adult learner’s cognitive sensory memory affect their learning style?

            Adult learners are individual in their learning styles and utilize a combination of them yet there was always one or two which were dominant in the learning process. Once a preference was detected then a connection between learning and sensory memory could be made. For instance, both participants were kinesthetic learners (learn by using body, hands, and sense of touch) and visual learners (learn through pictures, images, and spatial understanding), only one was a verbal learner (learn by using words in speech and writing) and neither were auditory learners (learn through listening). Hence, learning styles of adult learners were affected by sensory input whether it be by hands on as one participant was a home contractor and used cognitive sensory memory to retain and understand the technical aspects of his trade as he could see and connect it to real world situations. The other was a pastor at a Methodist Church who was responsible for wearing many hats for instance, tending to vegetation field with children and utilizes kinesthetic learning of how to grow food properly.

            Learning was also seen through imagery and visuals (iconic) as a contractor needed to see a problem, reflect and problem solve or for the pastor who learned by watching others to recognize their hardships. It became apparent that both would do poorly by trying to learn for example, in a verbal lecture hall since both have claimed they are not auditory learners. Information processing was different for each adult learner and when a learner knew their styles, the learning process began with sensory input making it easier to understand in turn, reflect and grow.

 Analysis – Learning is Memory

            Multiple Intelligence could be seen as these learners were classified by depicting certain characteristics. Contributor one is number smart, self-smart, and nature smart and contributor two is word smart, number smart, people smart, self-smart, picture smart, music smart, body smart and nature smart (para. Rüstü & Özgen, 2010, 11-13). All of these intelligences began with their cognitive sensory memory input.

            Each has strengths in learning such as subject one feels he picked things up quickly and was fast at retaining information while his weaknesses were in taking notes and dealing with paperwork. Subject two has endurance and the “don’t give up attitude” while being a problem solver and his weakness in learning was being a slow reader.

            Subject one is a building contractor for residences and businesses. In any given project he must assess a situation visually, plan on paper the process needed to complete the job successfully, and obtain the proper materials. His work was based on hands on learning and techniques. He had learned through using cognitive sensory memory, experiential experiences, problem solving, and trial and error in his working world.

            As the stimuli patterns were received in through sight and by listening he concentrated on the new information to understand it in order to transfer it from cognitive sensory memory to short term which began the process of learning. He used selective processing by focusing on specific sensory stimuli important to complete a task. It was this significant information used in completing of a task since it was processed from cognitive sensory memory to the working memory. Here, sensory memory included remembering visual stimulus his eyes had already viewed like broken tiles, verbal’s, and spacial that helped him to create an order of importance of the task at hand. He had to learn how to use a Bosch four Piece Glass and Tile Drill Bit Set for a tile job. It had many uses, fits well the hand, was steady, and gave smooth results. When the second tile job was requested he built into his cognitive sensory memory the vibrations the drill made while using it, what the drill and bits look like resulting in quickly retrieving this information for the new task.

            Motivation, familiarity, and interest helped learning as input was taken in willingly leading to self-directed learning and self-identity. This combination created the connection between new sensory memory input and past learning experiences in which to build. The relationship was based upon the easy access retrieval of the sensory memory. This in turn, gave him appropriate knowledge to automate skills and problem solve in the future.

            Participant two is a pastor and works with the community from the very old to the very young on a daily basis. How does a man of god learn by using cognitive sensory memory? He saw the world with love for instance, after looking into the eyes of someone hurting he would take in that visual stimuli and retain that information and access the meaning quickly and easily the next time someone was in pain. He had experiences of walking into the homes of the elderly and could smell that it needed to be cleaned, which he did from washing the floors to making their bed. He gained knowledge by listening to others, viewing them in different learning environments and was able to learn what their needs were based on his observations.

            He was a non-traditional adult learner who worked towards being self-directed as he continued in formal education leading to a bachelor’s degree in Ministry. It was in the classroom setting that he utilized cognitive sensory memory by writing papers, viewing presentations, and began to retrain his audio skills when listening to lectures. His sense of smell was a connection to sensory learning as incense was burned to purify during different rituals.  The lighting of candles was used for visual effects and symbolism based on past learning experiences. As he recited passages from the bible he was teaching the congregation as well as learning for himself the true meanings of the scriptures. During his Sunday school classes he learned from listening and participating in discourse with his students about their views and perspectives on religion. Through music and song he learned about his passion and his calling.

            Furthermore, he drove a small bus to take people to doctor’s appointments, school, job interviews, etc. It is his cognitive sensory memory that blocks out certain stimuli. For instance, visual and audio (echoic) information could be overwhelming in certain environments such as, conversations going on behind him of three older women, or the radio playing a song or decorations on buildings he passed for the up and coming holiday. This input does not pertain to the task of driving therefore shielding from him from inundated stimuli.   

            He must learn that his congregation is made up of individuals and each person has their own leaning style. As he prepared for his sermon the concept of multi-sensory memory and how the people will remember his words came to mind. He spoke of the kindness in God, walked away from the pulpit to get closer to the people to look them in the eyes; he led the choir in hymns since repetition reinforced the sensory memory, and used arm and hand gestures to reinforce his message. His message was seen in more than one way or perspective. Through his own sensory memory he held the knowledge to connect and educate adult learners.

Discussion of Observations

            The results prove d that in order to learn there needs to be proper sensory input patterns which flow into a short term or long term memory path that leads to learning and changes within an adult learner, to be self-directed.

            Cognitive sensory memory is like a shield against an overload of sensory occurrences and stimuli. Adult learners retain in memory what they choose to remember and what is of interest or necessity. According to Hecht & Reiner (2009) stated, “The way we perceive multi-sensory events reveals that our brain may not give equal weight to the information coming from the different sensory modalities” (p. 307). It is similar to cooking pasta. The cliché is seen here, if your throw a cooked noodle on a wall and it sticks, it’s done. This is similar to the learning of both participants who shared characteristics such as being number smart, self-smart, and nature smart which is based on their sensory input patterns of preferences and interests.        

            Learning styles were discussed as to matching the right cognitive sensory memory input to a style to increase learning and yet other authors such as Massa & Mayer (2006) concluded that their results provided no support for, ‘‘…the idea that different instructional methods should be used for visualizers and verbalizers” (Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer & Bjork, 2008, p. 112).


            I have learned from this study that there can be no learning without cognitive sensory memory input of touching, seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. My research changed how I think about adult learning by beginning to understand the process of what it takes to learn. It is the stimuli input of information that is taken in sometimes to retain while other times to disregard. But how is it initially entered? It is through an adult learner’s cognitive sensory memory resulting in learning. I have changed how I think about adult development in noting that there is a connection between sensory memory, problem solving and being able to utilize critical analysis. Sensory memory leads to self-direction, development through the interaction within their environment, and lifelong learning.

            One question to think about: What if courses were designed and based on specific adult learner’s cognitive sensory memory and learning styles. A class based solely on visuals or audios, or the use of their hands, their sense of smell or taste. Would it benefit the learner?

            Another question: Knowing how cognitive sensory memory begins, if an adult learner is blind or deaf does it mean that by using audio or visuals as a teaching method it would enhance their sensory memory to perform tasks and problem solve?

            A third question: As adult learners we age. Do we lose the full potential of our cognitive sensory memory as time goes on?

            And Fourth: Is it possible to retrain cognitive sensory memory?

            Further research into in the theory of cognitive sensory memory is needed to learn the affects it has on learning styles and the connection it has to an adult learner in being self-directed/autonomous. Exploring this theory means a better understanding of the learning process of an adult learner.  

            There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago ~ J. Robert Oppenheimer


Bowman, M., Frame, D., & Kennette, L. (2013). Enhancing Teaching and Learning: How  Cognitive Research Can Help. Journal On Excellence In College Teaching, 24(3), 7-28.  ca-4c75-45e9-9b5b-9dd6be3058dc%40sessionmgr198&hid=4208

Hecht, D., & Reiner, M. (2009). Sensory dominance in combinations of audio, visual and haptic   stimuli. Experimental Brain Research, 193(2), 307-14. Retrieved from,  D691564E2/16?accountid=8067

Kyndt, E., Cascallar, E., & Dochy, F. (2012). Individual differences in working memory capacity and attention, and their relationship with students’ approaches to learning. Higher Education, 64(3), 285-297. Retrieved from,   64-a0f4-487d-a3cb-0333bb1e908e%40sessionmgr4003&hid=4205

Lamb, R. (2011). Lifelong Learning Institutes: The Next Challenge. LLI Review, 61-10. Retrieved from,   

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., &Bjork, R . (2009). Learning Styles Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science In The Public Interest, 9 (3), 105-119. Retrieved from,

Rüstü, Y. & Özgen, K. (2010, Fall). Reliability And Validity Analysis Of The Multiple Intelligence Perception Scale. Education, 131, 1, 8-31. Retrieved from,ProQues 

Vlassova, A. & Pearson, J. (2013, September). Look Before You Leap: Sensory Memory Improves Decision Making. Psychological Science, 24 (9), 1635-1643.Retrieved from,

Wolfe, T. D. (2013, November). Learning and development in contemporary adulthood.   Discussion.


J. Robert Oppenheimer Quote:

Cognitive Sensory Memory   Leave a comment

Does cognitive memory produce patterns of behavioral changes for lifelong learning?

According to Lamb, R. (2011), “Lifelong learning is not determined by where you learn, but how. It can be best defined as “a cognitive process by which [adults] continue to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes over their behaviors and environmental contexts can enhance their cognitive functioning and development in adulthood and old age.” (p. 1). Cognitive skills  are based on the ability to store and recall information. Cognitive memory features sensory input patterns which could be auditory, visual, tactile etc. It uses an autoassociative neural network critical role in memory retrieval to match up prior experiences.

From this perspective Shuell (1986) commented “…there is a change in a person’s behavior or ability, the change is the result of experience or practice, and the change is persistent (Bowman, Frame, & Kennette, 2013). Learning involves a transformation of the information processing system to reflect an improvement in performance or skills” (Langley & Simon, 1981, as cited Bowman, Frame, & Kennette, 2013, p. 9). It is through our sensory memory which begins with patterns that flow into our short term memory for a few milliseconds into our conscious memory and then a decision of whether to transfer the new information long term memory or discard is made. If an adult learner is familiar with the configurations, the new patterns become interesting and stored away for future use changing the reflection on the pattern for example, problem solutions are can be stored a lifetime as patterns in memory while changing the learner.

Changes in behavior does happen for lifelong learners because of cognitive memory producing patterns as we take in information through sensory input. It is these patterns which create  cognitive memory in which to learn, grow, and change.

The information I found in the articles fits with my learner profiles and my research question, Does cognitive memory produce patterns of behavioral changes for lifelong learning?

My first profile is of a male server in a restaurant and the second is on a male contractor. Both utilize their cognitive skills in their profession. Cognitive memory helps the adult learners gain new information based on sensory memory for instance, in which tools are necessary for a task or hearing what specials are on the menu to inform the customer.


(Bowman, M., Frame, D., & Kennette, L. (2013). Enhancing Teaching and Learning: How Cognitive Research Can Help. Journal On Excellence In College Teaching, 24(3), 7-28.

Lamb, R. (2011). Lifelong Learning Institutes: The Next Challenge. LLI Review, 61-10.


Adult Learning and Human Nature: Personal values and assumptions   Leave a comment

Reflecting on my world views led me to focusing on my personal values and assumptions about human nature. I was raised to believe that everyone is good until told or shown otherwise and given the right circumstances can learn and grow. This instilled an assumption about human nature deep within me as Brockett and Hiemstra (1991) reported, “…their model of self-directed learning, the Personal Responsibility Orientation (PRO) model…fundamental ideas espoused by this philosophy: [T]hat human nature is basically good…” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p.107).

            My mother was a social worker who worked and dealt with Harlem street gangs, prisoners, ex-prisoners who resided in Rykers Island, and wayward kids. She had a tendency of bringing clients home. Our home was robbed at least five times in three year period. Everything would be replaced only to be robbed again. I was home alone during one of the home invasions.

Chene’s  (1983) discussed the ability to make choices and critical judgments based on values and beliefs, “These values and beliefs give them a solid foundation for conceiving goals and plans, exercising free choice, using rational reflection, having the willpower to follow through and exercising self-restraint and self-discipline”  (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p.122). That night my actions were based on past experiences with the knowledge of quickly calling the police, hiding and being perfectly still and quiet until help arrived. Because my mother believed there was good in all people, I followed her lead to incorporate the concept into my own belief system.

            Someone said to me once that I should be a prejudice type person against certain races based on my past experiences and yet, I’m just the opposite. In my opinion, if we were to believe that human nature was evil then we would have placed personal barriers on our learning capabilities due to fear. The lessons learned from each of those experiences revolved around having and losing; and the question of what was really important in life, meaning that everyone was safe and no one was hurt.

            Each robbery opened the door to a new experience leading to new knowledge and a new transition stage. McClusky’s theory incorporated four factors assessing strength: the situation, the self, external supports and strategies developed to handle stress. (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, para. p.96). In exploring these times a connection can be seen as proactive learning was going transpiring when dealing with the stress and its repercussions.

            Adult learning theories based on age/stage could not be applied due to the accidental factors such as, being robbed at different ages. What happens when a learner does not follow the map? Tennant (1988) suggests that adult educators have favored theories and frameworks that offer stages because they give us “roadmaps” to follow” (Rossiter, 1999, p. 56). My tasks (how to survive) were based on critical challenges and there appeared to be a connection to Havighurst’s developmental teachable moment proposition description. Courtenay (1994), commented, “…that point in individual’ lives when they already to learn the knowledge and skills to complete one of life’s task” (Courtenay, 1994, p.146).

            One value that had been instilled in me was the importance of education and the need to continue in order to reach my goals. My mother always told me that I should do the best I can, and regardless of the grade I received, she would always be proud. As a young child it was innate to strive for the highest grade and disappointed in myself if I didn’t reach my own intended goal. Being an adult learner means we are motivated to learn by an internal driving force to succeed combined with a readiness to learn. I became more independent and self-directed as I matured and began a college program in which I participated in the process of planning in my learning. It was here that my self-esteem increased as well as my confidence level and where I could apply the organismic world view. As adult learners we have our experiences (integrated structural features of an organism, parts) in which we build upon to be the persons we are today (whole). With this lens it is not the external influences but the internal ones that guide me on my path to learning. When adult learners learn something new they are reorganizing their knowledge to incorporate the new. According to Overton (1984), “The hard core of organismic program is expressed in an ontological commitment to a Kantian-Hegelian philosophy of Becoming, wherein activity, change and organization are understood as natural and necessary features of the cosmos and not simply as the product of contingent accidental factors” (p. 204).

            It is through my world views, assumptions and beliefs that my perspective of adult learning and development takes form. I am learning that my development is more complex as different theories can be utilized when examining my adult learning process and how I work with other adult learners. I believe we are all life-long learners in the adult learning process which increases growth, knowledge and intelligence, we then apply our experiences as Lindeman commented, “Experience is the adult learner’s living textbook.” (p. 7), resulting in education and learning being defined as a never ending journey.


Courtenay, B.C. (1994, Spring). Are psychological models of adult development still important for the practice of adult education? Adult Education Quarterly, 44 (3), 145-153. Retrieved November 1, 2013 from,

Images: November 13, 2013 Retrieved from,

Lindeman, Edward. (1929). The Meaning of Adult Education. New York: New Republic Inc. Retrieved November 9, 2013 from,   xtbook

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A   Comprehensive Guide (3rd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Overton, W.F. (1984). World views and their influence on psychological theory and research: Kuhn-Lakatos-Lauday. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 18, 191-226. Retrieved November 7, 2013 from,

Rossiter, M. (1999). A narrative approach to development: Implications for adult education. Adult Education Quarterly, 50(1), 56-71. Retrieved November 10, 2013 from,


Personal Narrative – Life is full of transitions: Influencing identity and goals   Leave a comment

            As I sit here poolside in sunny Florida I can’t help but reflect on my past experiences focusing on three incidents which provided significant transitions that have influenced my identity and my goals. First, I would like to introduce my mother, Sheila Ann Jobe. A remarkable woman, she was a single mom, working and going for her bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Empire State College in New York. It was during the late seventies that as a child I watched her studying late at night or writing papers on an old typewriter. There were times when she could not locate a babysitter and I would tag along to her classes. One class I can recall was taught by the now famous, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Wertheimer. The setting, the environment, the reading of papers then discussing them hooked this thirteen year old girl. I wanted to participate in this group setting and write and research too. My student identity and social identification was formed as my desire to learn increased. My mother instilled in me the importance of education and to feel empowered with every piece of new knowledge. My goal was set for a bachelor’s degree and I had a few years to figure out what my concentration was going to be. My mother passed over before I graduated with my first bachelor’s degree. I know she was looking down the day I held my diploma. I graduated as a lifelong learner.

            The second experience that provided significant transitions that have influenced my identity as well as, my goals was the introduction of Dennell into my life when I was fourteen. He is my big black brother by heart who is five years older than me. My mother had been counseling him in a wayward home for children. When he turned eighteen the agency gave him fifty dollars and asked him to leave. She invited him into our home and he became family instantly. As he was trying to find his roots and place in life he took me on his journey. He introduced me to Harlem, the seedy side, and the black culture. I learned from him and the stories he told of racial tension and discrimination. It was the narrative theory that helped me understand his world. It was then I became aware of my sociocultural identity and a need to fight for the rights of minorities.

            Finally, my third experience that provided significant transitions that have influenced my identity and goals was my marriage and divorce to a transgender man, FTM. It began by my meeting a woman, falling in love and being by her side as she transitioned into a man, physically and legally too. I was there for both top and bottom surgeries helping her heal and giving her testosterone shots weekly. I began the relationship labeled as a lesbian and due to our marrying was considered a straight woman in society’s eyes. What I didn’t expect was how my feelings and needs had changed transforming my identity. I was now labeled pansexual as I followed my heart and not gender. Being part of the LGBTQQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) community as a lesbian was one thing, but then I was surrounded by transgenders and their lifestyles. I was learning about gender, what it means to society, and how it can change. I found myself studying and joining groups regarding transgenderism and asking questions. I wanted to know more and found my goals leaning towards wanting to teach others the meaning of gender and how our society is not part of the binary system, but is multi-gendered.

            In conclusion, through these experiences my self-identity had transformed me into the person I am today. Maslow’s (1970) humanistic approach helped me to make sense out of my life story “…the concept of “self-actualization,” which he described as the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities, etc….He identified a number of characteristics of self-actualizing people, three of which are tolerance for ambiguity, acceptance of self and others, and “peak experiences” that lead to personal transformation through new insights. My anticipation for the future is teaching, enriching adults with knowledge that empowers them and to help them in meaning making of this complicated world in which we live.


Hiemstra, R. & Brockett, R. G. (1994). From behaviorism to humanism: Incorporating self-direction in learning concepts into the instructional design process. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from


Everyone has a story that connects to learning: The Narrative Theory   Leave a comment

My own learning through narrative storytelling combines the three forms which appear in practice: “storytelling” the curriculum, storytelling, and autobiographical as mention by Rossiter (2005) and Rossiter and Clark (in press).  (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, 209). I began journalizing after my divorce to deal with the trauma. As I wrote and began reflecting on certain periods or incidents in my life which led me see patterns in which I learned from. The more I wrote the more, the more storytelling told, the closer I became to an autobiographical anthology. Each essay detailed a portion of my life in which I gained better insight of myself as an adult learner. According to Clark (2005), “The construction of that narrative is how we see our understanding come together and make sense…The narrativizing of our understanding is how we make sense of our learning visible to ourselves, if only in our heads” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, 210). It is through the narrative and transformational learning that I was able to grow from the experience in turn, letting in room for the next experience as Freeman (1991) commented, “In other words … development, rather than being seen as a teleologically driven push toward the future, is instead to be seen as a never-ending retrospective story of transformation” (Marsha, 1999).

In reflecting on the learner profiles, informal learning can be seen as a learning medium which enabled adult learners to assume new roles within society for instance, in family, school and the workplace. Transformational learning was included as their storytelling told of moving from the past into the future (Crites, 1986 as cited in Marsha, 1999, para.). The impact of learning environments on learning experiences could also be depicted in the stories. The environment could be positive or negative regarding how the knowledge is constructed and the amount of discourse that takes place. It is also an educator’s responsibility to ensure a comfortable setting for learning which includes language that is understandable by all students. Marsha (1991) noted, “Language does not merely transmit meaning; its very structure imposes some order on events that thereby influences meaning. Narrative form is, thus, an instrument of cultural, as well as individual, meaning making.” The adult learner’s stories seem to be about how life-long learning and how it has affected them, “It also reflects what some see as the “postmodern” condition, full of change and opportunity” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, 49).


Marsha, R. (1999). A narrative approach to development: Implications for adult education. Adult Education Quarterly, 50(1), p56. 16p. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide (3rd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.