Education (EDUC) 309

The Purposes of Adult Education (Revision 2)

EDUC 309 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: EDUC 401. EDUC 309 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for EDUC 401.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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EDUC 309 is not available for challenge.

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Course Goals

After completing this course, you should be able to

  • critically discuss the foundations of adult education.
  • describe the dominant theoretical perspectives in adult education and relate them to practice.
  • identify and discuss the key social, economic, political, and technological issues that currently affect adult education.
  • analyze an adult education issue using an integrated approach.
  • discuss how adult education theory relates to distance education.
  • express an informed, critical perspective on the purpose of Canadian adult education in a global context.

Course Outline

To help you attain these goals, the course has been designed around seven units:

  • Unit 1: Exploring the Foundations of Adult Education
  • Unit 2: Understanding the Social Aspect of Adult Education
  • Unit 3: Education for Economy
  • Unit 4: Education for Transformation
  • Unit 5: Education for Diversity
  • Unit 6: Education at a Distance: Online and Open
  • Unit 7: Canadian Adult Education in a Global Context


To receive credit for EDUC 309, you must complete all of the assignments, and achieve at least D (50 percent) on each. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Activity Description Weighting
Assignment 1 Chapter Review 25%
Assignment 2 Two Short Essays 20%
Assignment 3 Education Program Critique 20%
Assignment 4 Essay 30%
Course Participation Tutor Contact* 5%
Total   100%

*Note: Five per cent of the final grade is based on your participation in the course. You can earn this five per cent by contacting your tutor on a regular basis (e.g., after completing each unit), and discussing the issues raised by the course with her or him.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Spencer, B., & Lange, E. (2014). The purposes of adult education: An introduction (3rd ed.). Toronto, ON: Thompson Educational Publishing.

Nesbit, T., Brigham, S. M., Taber, N., & Gibb, T. (Eds.). (2013). Building on critical traditions: Adult education and learning in Canada. Toronto, ON: Thompson Educational Publishing.

Lotz, J., & Welton, M. R. (1997). Father Jimmy: The life and times of Jimmy Tompkins. Wreck Cove, Cape Breton Island, NS: Breton Books.

Other Materials

All other course materials can be accessed online via the course website.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, May 21, 2014.

View previous syllabus