What Does It Mean to Create Knowledge?

The process of adult learning in any classroom environment involves the acquisition of information, interaction with that information through assigned activities, and the creation of new knowledge. One of the primary purposes of adult education programs is to establish classroom conditions that are necessary for learning to take place. Throughout the process of learning knowledge creation is likely to occur as a product of this environment.

Adults acquire knowledge through informal and formal processes. Informal learning occurs through everyday activities, experiences, and also trial and error. An adult may acquire knowledge as they perform job-related tasks. Knowledge may also be developed through the process of critical thinking, which utilizes logic and reasoning. When adults seek specific knowledge that they believe they cannot acquire on their own they may choose a formal classroom learning environment.

Formal learning involves a structured process with established learning objectives and goals. A common goal of many classes is the completion of learning activities that demonstrate the learner’s progress in meeting specific course outcomes. An adult also does not automatically create knowledge by receiving and reviewing information that has been presented within the class assignments and course materials or by participating in assigned activities. The creation of knowledge is most likely to occur when the adult has taken information and interacted with it in a meaningful way.

Adults are self-directed learners by nature and come to the classroom with expectations about the learning process, along with prior experiences and existing knowledge. Adults also seek knowledge that is relevant to their lives and their particular needs and they will only work towards meeting those objectives if it is determined that the learning goals are aligned with their needs. Most colleges and universities acknowledge the adult’s need for relevant and meaningful knowledge and design courses and programs that will meet the needs and professional goals of working adults.

Knowledge creation within a formal classroom learning environment is the product of adults interacting with information. The information adults work with typically includes textbook reading, literature and scholarly articles, knowledge that they already possess, or any other sources that the adults seek throughout the duration of the class. Adult learners also interact with their instructors, other learners, and the classroom environment. These interactions include an exchange of ideas, experiences, and knowledge. An adult’s active involvement in the class forms the basis of adult learning and the process of knowledge creation.