Adult learning principles

Over the years the majority of my work has been training adult learners in different settings.  Based on this experience and the research that I have studied to date, there seems to be eight distinct principles that one needs to follow when offering training to adults.  These are:

1. Need to know:  Let your learners know WHY they need to learn something.

2. Self direction:  Treat your learners as the ones responsible for their own learning. Present variety of opportunities and resources for adults to process the learning.

3. Prior knowledge: Appreciate and acknowledge the work/life experience your learners bring with them.

4. Relevance:  Ensure what is covered in the training is relevant and applicable to your learners’ everyday lives.

5. Respect: Allow your learners to voice their opinions and ask questions.

6. Diversity: Acknowledge the rich background that your learners come with and be aware of the different learning needs that they may present.

7. Motivation: Take the time to identify your learners’ motivation to learn. Most adult learners are driven by internal motivators.

8. Multiple roles:  Recognize the different roles that many adult learners have and thus offer learning opportunities that they can access in their own time and space.

If you are one who tends to offer learning opportunities for the youth, you may want to check out Edutopia’s blog.  Interestingly there are quite a bit of commonality between youth and their adult counterparts when it comes to learning.

2 thoughts on “Adult learning principles

    1. You are absolutely right! I just believe as educators we sometimes get too bugged down with the amount of content we have to cover or the way we have been delivering that one or more of these principles sometimes gets compromised.

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