Application of Adult Learning Theory

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Application of Adult Learning Theory

1. Adults have a need to know why they should learn something.

Adults spend a considerable amount of time and energy exploring what the benefits are of them learning something and the costs of them not learning something before they are willing to invest time in learning it. It is seldom convincing for them to be told by someone (even the boss) that it would be good for them. Training should be based on valid needs of the intended audience. All information provided about the training, including lesson plans, should include reasons for learning. The benefits of learning should be clearly shown. Activities should be based around real work experiences.

2. Adults have a deep need to be self-directing.

The psychological definition of "adult" is one who has achieved a self-concept of being in charge of his or her own life, of being responsible for making his or her own decisions and living with the consequences. Adults develop a deep need to be seen by others as being capable of taking responsibility for themselves. Too often as trainers we design training situations that place adults back in their childhood where they are told what where and when and how to learn. Self-directed is not the same as self-paced. Self-paced means that the learner is only in charge of when to experience what the trainer has produced. Self-directed learning puts the learner in charge of much more. Incorporate as much "search and discovery" into the training as possible for experienced learners. Present training with as many options for learning as possible.

3. Adults have a greater volume and different quality of experience than youth.

Adults bring into the learning situation a background of experience that is a rich resource. Adults have a broader base of experience on which to attach new ideas and skills and give them richer meaning. The more explicit these relationships (between the old and the new) are made - through discussion and...
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