Applying Insights from Adult Learning Theory to Improve Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Programming

Applying Insights from Adult Learning Theory to Improve Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Programming

OPRE Report Number: 2021-99
Published: Jul 01, 2021
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Associated Project

Fatherhood, Relationships, and Marriage – Illuminating the Next Generation of Research (FRAMING Research)

Time frame: 2018-2023

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families

Clients
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Authors

Liana Washburn

Heather Gordon

Key Findings

Five strategies that HMRF programs could pursue to bolster clients’ participation and outcomes.

  1. Show participants how program content is relevant to them
  2. Leverage program format to support self-direction
  3. Build opportunities for participants to practice new skills, both during the program and on their own
  4. Create opportunities for participants to reflect on their experiences and beliefs as part of the learning process
  5. Create a positive emotional climate

This paper explores how adult learning theory might inform HMRF programming so it can be more engaging and, in turn, more successful in supporting family well-being. Adult learning theory aims to explain the processes by which adults gain knowledge, skills, and abilities. It distinguishes these from the processes by which children learn. In this paper, we describe key principles of adult learning theory and articulate strategies based on these principles that HMRF programs can use to support participants’ engagement and learning.

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