Characteristics of the Adult Learner

Workplace training experiences are more likely to be successful if they are built upon the needs of adult learners. Researcher Malcom Knowles identifies some vital principles of adult learning:

    Adults need to be actively involved in the learning.

    Adult learners are self-directed

    Adult learning is generally more problem centered rather than subject centered

    Portions of the learning must be self-directed.

    The learning must be practicably connected life experiences.

    The learning must be relevant to everyday work needs

    It must be structured so that participants can see where they are going and why.

    It must be well organized.

    Adult participants must have time to voice opinions and personal experiences

    They must feel that they are helping to shape the direction of the learning

    They need room in the training to reflect and speculate

    Adults learn best when challenged

    Adults need time to practice new skills

    Adults like to tell their story

    Adult groups like to find common ground and shared meaning

    They must have ample time to discuss

    Part of the learning should be experiential

    Learning should be ongoing where concepts can be reinforced and expanded

    Adults are more internally motivated rather than externally motivated

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