The study classified adult learners based on their responses to the questionnaire on motivational orientations to lifelong learning, and described their characteristics such as demographic backgrounds, learning styles and attitudes, and preferences of instructional methods. A total of 3,000 domestic residents aging from 20 to 69 were surveyed, and hierarchical and k-means cluster analyses were employed to identify different types of the responses.
As a result of the research, we could classify adult learners into four subgroups: actively motivated, passively motivated, self-actualizing, and career-oriented. The actively motivated group mainly consisted of 40s, males, white-collars. They showed a positive attitude toward lifelong learning, and scored higher than any other groups in all of the items about the preferences of instructional methods. Contrary to them, the average scores provided by the people belonging to the passively motivated group were lowest among the four groups, and old-aged, low-income and relatively under educated people were the mainstream of the subgroup.
The adult learners of the self-actualizing group were mainly 50s, community college level of education, and self-employed persons. They were more self-directed learners, and preferred discussing and collaborating with peers. Averagely, the age of the people in the career-oriented group was lowest. The highest proportion of them were white-collared, and it had more students than other groups did. They preferred listening lectures and reading documents individually, and more teacher-directed instructional methods.