A systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of cognitive based instruction for adult learning.
Instructional research in adult learning has evolved over the years with increasing interest in the shift from behavioural to more cognitive models of instruction. Researchers and instructional designers have been drawn towards learners‟ cognitive structures and mental processes in learning environments in a bid to create effective instructional methods. Substantive research has been conducted on individual models of instruction, but current research on cognitive models of instruction across a range of disciplines in higher education was necessary. As more models of instruction emerge, an evaluation of their effectiveness is crucial to ensure successful learning. This study assessed the effectiveness of cognitive-based instruction for adult learning. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to locate current relevant studies that presented cognitive-based models of instruction applied to adult learning populations. A search strategy was used to search for relevant literature through databases, journals and reference lists. Inclusionary criteria yielded 31 qualitative and quantitative studies conducted in Africa, Asia, America, Australia and Europe; published between 2000 and 2014. A pooled sample size of over 32,033 male and female adult learners participated in the included studies. Models represented in the selected studies included problem-based learning, cognitive apprenticeship, adaptive instruction and intelligent tutoring systems respectively. The Quality assessment procedure resulted in 12 studies that indicated minimal strength in methodological rigour. Data was extracted with the use of data extraction sheets and presented in graphs and tables. Thematic and textual narrative syntheses were used to analyse the data and the systematic procedure was documented and presented in tables and flowcharts. Results indicated that cognitive-based instruction is most effective when a combination of valid cognitive tools and methods are used in tandem with adult learners‟ cognitive learning styles in appropriate learning environments.