Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Distance education; Adult education;


Distance education is a current reality creating new opportunities and challenges for educational institutions, offering students expanded choices in where, when, how and from whom they learn, and making education accessible to a large population, especially for adult learners. This paper intends to present and discuss some of the most current research on the issues which influence adult distance learners' learning process. And help the school administrators, distance course designers and distance instructors to truly understand adult distance learners and their learning needs; design an effective and efficient learning environment and experience; facilitate adult learners' learning, provide learners' support to enhance adult learners' success in the higher distance education. These issues include analyzing adult learners' characteristics.

Two kinds of adult distance learners' characteristics are presented within this paper. They are demographic and situational characteristics, such as age, gender, cultural background, disability, location, and life roles, and affective characteristics, such as personality type, learning styles, and motivation. Some concerns about issues that impact on supporting adult distance learners' learning process and how to support adult distance learning are discussed. These issues include understanding adult learners and their learning needs, such as their knowledge, prior skills, experience, culture, context, learning patterns and styles. Strategies of supporting learning from the aspects of course planning and instruction, technology support and interaction and feedback are also presented in this paper. Additionally, this paper also addresses adult distance learner's responsibility as an important essence in their distance learning process.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Sharon E. Smaldino


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this graduate research paper and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (37 pages)



File Format