March 22, 2016

Lifelong Learning and Technology

7. People’s attitudes about learning, the classroom and personal growth shape adult learning activities

Most Americans see themselves as interested in learning new things and open to growthAlthough socio-economic status and technology assets clearly shape people’s opportunities for learning and pursuit of it, there is more to it than those factors alone. A person’s attitude toward learning, enthusiasm about the classroom and overall levels of curiosity also come into play.

The survey asked a series of questions on these issues and adults reported a range of attitudes about learning. Most like the idea of lifelong learning and personal growth, though not as many yearn for their classroom days and fewer feel the need to dig deeply into new situations they may encounter.

  • 73% of adults say this phrase describes them “very well”: “I think of myself as a lifelong learner.”
  • 61% say this phrase describes them “very well”: “I like to gather as much information as I can when I come across something that I am not familiar with.”
  • 58% say this describes them “very well”: “I often find myself looking for new opportunities to grow as a person.”

On the other side of the spectrum, about half of Americans say they are least somewhat glad to have left classroom life behind them. But few say they do not want to probe new subjects too deeply.

  • 31% say this describes them “very well”: “I am really glad I am no longer in school and don’t have to go to classes anymore.” Another 20% say that idea describes them “somewhat well.”
  • 13% say this describes them “very well”: “I am not the type of person who feels the need to probe deeply into new situations or things.” Another 30% said that describes them “somewhat well.”

Not surprisingly, people’s attitudes about learning in general shape whether they engaged in personal or professional learning. Those who say they are lifelong learners, like to gather as much information as they can, and look for opportunities to grow are more likely to have done a personal learning activity in the past year.

Those who are open to learning and new experiences are more likely to be personal and professional learners

The results are similar for those who have done professional learning activities in the past year. Professional learners are more likely than those who are not to agree that attributes indicating an interest in learning describe them very well. Professional learners are also more likely to say that “looking for new opportunities to grow as a person” describes them very well.