Understanding Adult Learners

Before we determine trainees’ characteristics, we first need to understand our trainees as adult learners. Our training is learner-centered; hence, it is essential to know them first.

Our training enables adult learners attain skills for them to land a job. Teaching them requires different teaching approaches and methodologies; thus, understanding them will surely help in preparing an effective session plan.

Understanding how adults learn will also enable the trainer to think of teaching strategies that focused on adults. This is based on the theory called Andragogy (Knowles), also known as adult education. The study came up with the characteristics of adult learner, and they are the following:

  • Adults are autonomous & self-directed.
  • Adults bring life experiences & knowledge to learning experiences.
  • Adults are goal-oriented.
  • Adults are relevancy-oriented.
  • Adults are practical.
  • Adults like to be respected.

Here is a best scenario on how to apply this theory: The trainer enters a class consisting of adult learners. They are all different in terms of age, educational background, gender etc., but they all have one thing in common – they are all adult learners. A trainer, on his conscious state, will then use strategies to meet the needs of adult learners.

A best example of strategy especially in developing working with teams is the use of Situated Learning Experience (SLE). It would be a very good application of adult learning principles since they are given specific instruction to achieve and explore solution and course of actions to attain it.

An example is the creation of a tallest tower using limited supply of materials. In this SLE, the goal is to make the highest tower. The devising of strategies and trying it out—gives adult learners autonomy and direct their own learning, and it also allows the students to bring in their previous experiences and knowledge. When participants are asked to give their insights on their SLE experience, this allows learners to give respect to their classmates, as the application of insights becomes practical and self-motivating.

Note that the methods and strategies we construct, consciously and unconsciously, should meet the needs of our adult learners, and will surely make an effective transfer of learning.



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