Is there a difference in their learning vs. how you and your colleagues learn? It turns out, the answer is
So, let’s take a look at how ADULTS best learn. Adults:
- are autonomous and self-directed.
- use their foundation of life experiences and knowledge.
- are goal-oriented.
- are relevancy-oriented.
- want practical, useful information.
- need to be shown respect.
Adult learners prefer single concept, single-theory learning experiences that focus heavily on the application of the concept to relevant problems.
Adults need to be able to integrate new ideas with what they already know if they are going to keep - and use - the new information.
Information that conflicts sharply with what is already held to be true, and thus forces a re-evaluation of the old material, is integrated more slowly.
Adults tend to compensate for being slower in some psychomotor learning tasks by being more accurate and making fewer trial-and-error ventures.
Adults tend to take errors personally and are more likely to let them affect self-esteem. Therefore, they tend to apply tried-and-true solutions and take fewer risks.
Adults have something real to lose in a classroom situation. Self-esteem and ego are on the line when they are asked to risk trying a new behavior in front of peers and cohorts.
Adults prefer self-directed and self-designed learning projects over group-learning experiences led by a professional, they select more than one medium for learning, and they desire to control pace and start/stop
The learning environment must be physically and psychologically comfortable; long lectures, periods of interminable sitting and the absence of practice opportunities rate high on the irritation scale.
Adults bring a great deal of life experience into the classroom, an invaluable asset to be acknowledged, tapped and used. Adults can learn well—and much—from dialogue with respected peers.
New knowledge has to be integrated with previous knowledge; students must actively participate in the learning experience. The learner is dependent on the instructor for confirming feedback on skill practice.
Adults have expectations, and it is critical to take time early on to clarify and articulate all expectations before getting into content.
Questions to Ponder:
- Do these points resonate well with you?
- Do you ever instruct adults?
- How might you change your presentation to meet the needs of adult learners?
- How does your instructional style fit with the Learning Pyramid?