Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 19–29 | Cite as

Creating learning environments conducive to change: The role of fear/safety in the adult learning process

  • Thomas E. Sappington


This paper addresses the adult educator's responsibility to establish an emotionally safe learning environment. Such a climate enables students to address constructively the fears they bring to the learning event. This empowers the learner to risk change-the goal of adult education. The research of Maslow, Rogers, Knowles, and Freire supports an atmosphere of mutual respect as the key to adult learning. Trainers/Teachers of adults were interviewed to identify the kinds of fears that adults bring to the learning event. This paper explores the attitudes and techniques used by the facilitator to create an atmosphere of respect.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Freire, P. (1973).Education for critical consciousness. New York: Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  2. Freire, P. (1970).Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  3. Gould, R. (1978).Transformations. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  4. Hunt, D. E. (1971).Matching models in education. Toronto: The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.Google Scholar
  5. Knowles, M. S. (1978).The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  6. Knowles, M. S., & Knowles, H. (1959).Introduction to group dynamics. New York: Association Press.Google Scholar
  7. Maslow, A. H. (1968).Toward a psychology of being. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.Google Scholar
  8. Rogers, C. R. (1951).Client-centered therapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.Google Scholar
  9. Rogers, C. R. (1961).On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.Google Scholar
  10. Tough, A. (1982).Intentional changes. Chicago: Follett Publishing Co.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas E. Sappington

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations