Overview of counseling and information services for adult learners

Alan B. Knox, Helen S. Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Counseling and information services for adult learners exist in technologically developing and developed countries. Counseling services are performed by professional counselors, by adult education administrators and teachers, by practitioners in related agencies, and by paraprofessional counselor aides. Information services include mediated and interpersonal marketing and recruitment activities performed by administrators, teachers, and public information specialists. In developing countries, adult education programs and related counseling services tend to be concentrated on categories of adults whose personal development has high priority in national development plans. In developed countries, a wider range of adult education sponsors serves a higher proportion and a more representative cross section of the adult population. There has been increasing recognition throughout the world that counseling and information services for adult learners are important but inadequate. Most counseling of adult learners is provided by people who are not professional counselors. In developing countries, counseling related to adult education is seldom provided by professional counselors, tends to be associated with literacy, employment, and health programs and uses few support materials. Adult education tends to be related to national development goals. In developed countries, counseling related to adult education uses support materials and assessment procedures for planning regarding a wide range of topics and adult life roles. Adult education emphasizes personal development and postsecondary education. The societal context of adult education is reflected in service provision. In developing countries, the extended family performs some functions that in developed countries are performed by counseling personnel. In developing countries, information services to encourage adult education participation rely on word-of-mouth, convenient locations, and inclusion in other activities. In developed countries, recruitment procedures include mail brochures and television announcements. Organizational arrangements for counseling adult learners tend to be more formalized in developed than in developing countries, as reflected in the establishment of community-based educational counseling centers for adults. Inadequate preparation of counselors is a recurrent theme. Comparative analysis and evaluation of counseling and information services for adult learners can yield findings of use throughout the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-414
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Review of Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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