Irving Daniel Lorge (1905-1961) is probably best known within the field of adult education for his lifelong research into the psychology of adult learning and behavior. He conducted extensive research on aging adults, determining that older adults were capable of learning but at a slower rate. Lorge’s work has been embraced across the field of adult education and his contributions established much groundwork for future research.
Lorge’s research involved the psychology of adult behavior, which included intelligence testing on adult populations, readability levels for helping illiterate adults learn to read, and extensive aging research, which he referred to as later maturity. He also focused attention on the attitudes of retired and older workers. He sought to define retirement and when it should occur, writing articles about when aging begins and when a worker becomes old. When the field of adult education was still in its infancy, Lorge wrote an extensive number of journal articles and books about adults.
One of his greatest contributions to the field was his lifelong commitment to verifying the ability of adults to continue learning throughout their lifetimes. His research on the intelligence and psychology of adults and his insistence that adults could be taught in a variety of more appropriate means for their level and abilities were new concepts during his early life. His advocacy for learning as much as possible about the lives of adults defined not only his research and writing but also his thought processes. Lorge believed adult education should be in the forefront of all research and application of knowledge. He was also interested on the later years of life and perceptions about the aging process by older adults and those who were younger.
Lorge’s article “If They Know Not, Teach” examined different methods of teaching and proposed that when learners do not know something, there are various ways to teach them. This notion blended well with his work on aging and learning because many educators had not fully considered alternative methods when educating older adults. His research opened eyes of educators internationally to the importance of educating the older population in a variety of methods.
Another major contribution from Lorge to the field was his collaboration on the Lorge-Thorndike Intelligence Test. The development of this test established norms for IQ equivalents, grade percentiles, grade equivalence, and age equivalence. The test helped establish performance levels in K-12 in the general field of education and was not only a major contribution in adult education but also in psychology, and aging research. His prolific work indicates a consistent research agenda addressing issues still prevalent today.
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