Now more than ever adult learning is important. Due to a changing world and changing economy more adults find themselves in a classroom learning new skills to be able to compete in the world of work. Adult learners, 25-years-or-older are no longer considered nontraditional students. Adult learners have become the norm. Adult learners absorb information differently than younger students. Here are ten ways adults learn.
1. The adult learner is self-directed.
Let the adult learner know that they are responsible for their own learning. Emphasize that learning does not just happen because they attend or sign up for a class they have to make the learning happen by being directly involved.
2. The adult learner has a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Utilize the experience and prior knowledge of the adult learner to make it meaningful and long lasting.
3. The adult learner learns best when there is a need to know.
Adult learners have high expectations and expect immediate changes. Therefore, they must be encouraged to be very actively involved in their program with direct activity.
4. The adult learner has a problem-solving orientation of learning.
There should be an emphasis on experiential learning techniques rather than on traditional teaching and learning.
5. The adult learner learns better when they see value in the specific learning.
This is especially true with information that conflicts with what adults already believe to be true. The adult learner has to evaluate the learning before it is accepted.
6. The adult learner perceives their own experiences as unique and private and may not feel comfortable sharing their experiences.
The adult learner must be encouraged to share their experiences, they might be less open-minded. Therefore, new information must be linked to traditional information in order to understand the need for the new learning.
7. The adult learner should have time to plan how they will apply the learning.
The learning achievement for the adult learner is done through self-assessment. The adult learner will be able to tell if they can practically apply the learning.
8. The adult learning environment should be collaborative.
There should be time in the learning for teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction. Adults learn more from each other.
9. The physical space should promote interaction.
Seating should lend itself for collaborative learning. The adult learner should be provided reference materials and handouts. They should be reminded of governing rules and regulations.
10. The adult learner needs to know the purpose and what to expect.
Always begin with specific goals and objectives of the session.