Jerry Jellig

Dr. Gerard Jellig Discusses Adult Learning Theories in Leadership Development


Dr. Gerard Jellig was a superintendent of schools throughout New Jersey, now DC for the last 7 years, and is dedicated to lifelong learning. Jerry Jellig consistently strives to learn and teach more about educational theories and discuss educational trends that can be implemented into his schools. In the following article, Dr. Jellig discusses adult learning theories in leadership, the differences between adult learning techniques – and how these methods and systems can be transformative in leadership development in education.

Despite old clichés claiming that some people are born natural leaders, the overwhelming majority of people must learn the skills needed to motivate and guide others to success. Fortunately, psychologists and educational researchers have developed a range of adult learning theories that can help anyone build the skills needed to effectively take the lead says Jerry Jellig. And they reflect diverse skills and backgrounds, indeed every variation of Myers- Briggs inventory.

Compared to children, adults are generally self-motivated, value education, and approach learning with specific goals in mind. In other words, adults are better suited to self-guided learning techniques, project-based lessons, transformational learning, and constructivism. To better understand how these theories affect leadership development, Dr. Gerard Jellig explains more about each and relates them to motivational leadership.

Pedagogy vs Andragogy

The first distinction to make is between pedagogy and andragogy. Pedagogy refers to the methods and strategies used to teach children, whereas andragogy is concerned with the methods and strategies used to teach adults explains Dr. Gerard Jellig. While there are some similarities between the two, there are also some key differences.

For one, children are generally more reliant on teacher guidance than adults, who are more self-motivated. Additionally, adults generally have more life experience to draw upon and are more likely to approach learning with specific goals in mind. Based on these differences, it makes sense that the methods used to teach adults would be different than those used to teach children.

In general, Dr. Gerard Jellig says that adult learning theories place more emphasis on self-directed learning, experiential learning, and collaborative learning. Jerry Jellig explains more about these approaches below and shares how they help learners develop the skills needed to become effective leaders.

Jerry Jellig

Transformative Learning

Dr. Gerard Jellig says that transformative learning is a type of learning that leads to personal or social transformation. As Jack Mezirow explains in his 1991 book, Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning, the goal of transformative learning is to help people “critique and re-evaluate their assumptions and values and to create new, more effective ways of living and working in the world”.

In leadership development, transformative learning can help people challenge their assumptions about what leadership is and how it should be practiced. Additionally, transformative learning can help people develop the skills needed to adapt their leadership style to different situations and specific individual needs says Jerry Jellig.


Constructivism is a learning theory that emphasizes the role of the learner in constructing knowledge. According to constructivism, people learn best by actively engaging with their environment and by constructing their own understanding of the world around them. Jerry Jellig says that this usually means placing knowledge in relation to the learner’s own experience and life situation.

In leadership development, constructivism can help people learn by doing. For example, rather than simply reading about leadership or attending lectures on leadership, people can learn about leadership by participating in leadership simulations or by working on real-world projects. Additionally, constructivism can help people learn by sharing their own experiences and knowledge with others.

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning is a type of learning in which the learner takes the initiative in defining their goals, planning their learning, and assessing their progress. Self-directed learning is often seen as the opposite of traditional, teacher-led learning. In practice, Dr. Gerard Jellig explains that it can include group-centric project-based lessons, which we’ll discuss below, or individual study plans.

In leadership development, self-directed learning can help people develop the skills needed to be independent leaders. Additionally, self-directed learning can help people learn at their own pace and in their own way, encouraging learners to develop adaptability and resilience. When applied to a leadership role, these skills allow individuals to motivate through example says Jerry Jellig.

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a type of learning that emphasizes the role of projects in the learning process. Project-based learning is often used in conjunction with other adult learning theories, such as constructivism and self-directed learning. Learners are assigned a long-term project and assigned to groups where they must work together to complete individual tasks to complete a broader assignment.

Dr. Gerard Jellig explains that in leadership development, project-based learning can help people learn by doing within a group. Rather than relying on lectures or seminars, project-based learning provides an opportunity for people to learn through experience. Additionally, project-based learning can help people develop the skills needed to work collaboratively and manage complex tasks.

Final Thoughts

Adult learning theories provide a framework for leadership development that can help anyone become a leader. While there are many different theories, they all share a common focus on the learner and emphasize the role of experience in the learning process. When choosing a leadership development program, consider the specific goals and needs of the learners to ensure that the program is tailored to their needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *