Critique of Scott, J. Allen Adult Learning Theory & Leadership Development Article


Critiqueof Scott, J. Allen Adult Learning Theory &amp Leadership DevelopmentArticle

AdultLearning Theory &amp Leadership Development

Thecentral purpose of this article is to investigate the relationshipbetween theories of adult learning and leadership development. Notonly does the article describe adult learning theories likebehaviorism, constructivism, cognitive theories, and social learningtheories, but also a description of how they relate and apply todevelopment of leaders is given. The article supports the definitionof adult learning by Merriam and Caffarella who suggest that the lifeof the adult and the society where he or she lives shapes the adult’schoice of what to learn and need to learn, and also, where and whenthe learning process will take place (Scott, 2007).

Theconclusion from this study states that understanding andincorporating the primary theories of adult learning in leadershipdevelopment is important as it can help in development of leadershipprograms that would engage learners at a higher level, leadershipdevelopment programs architects will benefit too, and that it wouldhelp in implementation of environments and interventions that aremore conducive for adult learning (Scott, 2007). Therefore, by doingthis, learning opportunities and interventions would be madetransformative in nature.

Variousweaknesses can be detected from this article. All theories describedin this article are concentrating more on psychological explanationsof learning rather than on connection between adult learning theoriesand leadership development. It is important for adult learningresearchers to come up with theories that are explicitly for adultlearning. The article shows that there is no direct connectionbetween these variables they have to be explained throughpsychological explanations for them to make sense.

Iagree with the article that the assumptions from these theories whenincorporated together can be beneficial to learners and can help indevelopment of effective leadership intervention programs (Scott,2007). What this article fails to put into consideration is theimprovement of the quality of life of adults, and also the effectsthese theories have on health and well being of adults. It isconcentrating more on development of leadership programs than thedevelopment of the leader himself. In addition, the author fails tomention the chronological age at which each and every theory worksbest in adult learning. We can assume that these theories arebeneficial and operative in all levels of learning.

Theschema used to classify these theories tends to focus on learningsetting at the workplace, and on transformative learning. Mattersthat concern the emotional selves of a leader or an adult learnerhave not been addressed. Attention should have been given on howthese assumptions from the theory of behaviorism, social learning,constructivism, and cognitive connect directly to leadershipdevelopment. Resultant behaviors after subjection to this kind ofbehaviour should have been discussed for a clear understanding.

Thestrength of this article is that it discusses theories that covervarious aspects that are important in adult learning. For example,transformative learning would help the learner to reflect upon his orher learning and environment. Thus, cultural values, race, socialstatus, and class are taken into consideration when adult learningapproaches are used in development of leadership programs (Merriam &ampBierema, 2014). Also, we have seen that effective change can only beachieved by social learning approach where the educator acts as amodel of desired behavior for the learners to imitate. Cognitiveapproach suggests that adult learners should be involved in activeparticipation processes that help them to develop a new understandingand insight of the world. Behaviorism argues that stimulus andresponse determines the process of learning.

Thesignificant of this study is that it gives an insight on how variousthoughts from different researchers can be incorporated together toform leadership intervention programs that are adult friendly andoffers opportunities of learning that are transformative. Accordingto Scott (2007), all these approaches hence influence how learning istransferred. They give a balance in education because they offer aninsight on behaviour change, transformation perspective, andlearning, which are essential aspects of effective learning (Merriamet al., 2014). I would apply this approach but concentrate more onresultant behaviors than on the systems. For example, how thesetheories would help improve the well being and quality of lives ofadult learners and leaders.


Merriam,S. B., &amp Bierema, L. L. (2014). AdultLearning: Linking Theory and Practice.San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Scott,J. A. (2007).Adult Learning Theory and Leadership Development. LeadershipReview,7, 26-37. Retrieved from