During the past 30 years there has been a worldwide growth of interest in teaching and learning plus the rapid growth of knowledge in the form of new specialities into higher education (Beard and Hartley 1984). Add to this the governments commitment to ensuring that by 2010, one in two people under the age of 30 will have the opportunity to study at higher education (HE) level, this highlights the importance of the role of HE institutions (Weatherald and Taylor 2002). The Kennedy and Dearing report discussed by Summer (2002) was meant to point the way both for further education and wider participation.
Students who come to adult education do so from diverse backgrounds. They have different life and professional experiences and each with their own personal strengths, weaknesses, anxieties, hopes and importantly culture. For all these reasons adults' learning and teaching is challenging but rewarding.
Many adults reflect back to their childhood education of 'classroom' teaching but today's theories reflect adult learning.
Bigge and Shermis (1999) talked about these theories of learning and how there is no final answer. Thinking and reflecting about the nature of the learning process should enhance that teacher's ability.
Lifelong learning (Wallace 1999; Jarvis et al. 1998) fits into an adult type of continuing education. Learning and instruction theories are numerous and this highlights the fact that no theory fits all. Fry et al (1999) questions if theories of adult learning do exist but said they may influence learning in higher education, if only to cause teachers to re-examine their premises and adjust some of their views.
There seems to be a difference between children and adult learners. Andragogy has been defined as the art and science of teaching adults as compared to pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children.