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Adult Learning: Principles and Tips

Going to school as kids and as adults are two different things. Adults and children learn in different ways, just as adults and children behave, think and process information differently. So, many studies have been done on what makes a learning style effective and ideal for adults. As a result of extensive research, experts have developed seven  principles of adult learning that help in the effective transmission of information to adults through a dedicated adult learning program or general learning processes.

Adult Learning And Importance

Adult education is the process of adults engaging in systematic and continuous self-education to acquire new skills, knowledge and values. This can be done in a formal context, through higher education or online courses, or in a more informal setting, such as through an apprenticeship. Adults who lack a specific talent and want to improve it often choose this option. Adult learning is beneficial to both individuals and organizations. Here are a few advantages of adult learning:

  • Adult learning allows people to gain in-demand skills, and raise wages or better career chances.
  • It aids in the formation of a peer network of people with similar interests. Networking can also aid in the improvement of one's mental and physical health.
  • Adult learning assists in keeping up with technology changes and making the greatest use of them as new technologies emerge virtually every day.
  • No doubt, being active and creative may have a significant impact on your life. Adult learning allows you to think outside the box, making you more creative, active and extroverted.

7  Principles Of Adult Learning

These principles of adult learning and tips should be kept in mind while developing any adult learning program for an organization, and resources for learning should be designed using them.

1. Adults are more self-directed and motivated than children

Adult students are far more self-directed and driven than children. They are more likely to learn as they want to learn or see a benefit to doing so rather than because they are instructed to do so. Adults must perceive the value, benefit, and purpose of learning, and learning programs must clearly explain what the learner receives from their involvement, or learners will become disengaged quickly. You can use the ideas of Self-directed Learning theory to empower your employees to take control of their education. Employees might be encouraged to determine their learning requirements, plan how to attain their objectives, locate resources, and evaluate their progress.

2. Adults use their life experiences to help them learn more effectively

On the other hand, adults have a lot more experience than kids. Adult learners rely largely on their prior experiences, and training programs that recognize this help them learn. Real-world examples, realistic circumstances, and content based on firsthand experience will lead to a deeper knowledge of the subject. Adult learning should combine personalized resources based on individual experiences.

3. Adults are focused on accomplishing their objectives

Adults join the adult learning process with a specific aim in mind. They must see how the learning resources will help them achieve their goals. Instructors must keep this in mind and ensure that the student is provided with a variety of tools and information to assist them in achieving their objectives. Adult learners will be energized and motivated if they can understand how the content they are consuming is assisting them in achieving their objectives. This energy can be collected and channeled into the adult learning process, resulting in improved outcomes.

4. Adults must understand how the resources are relevant to them

To adequately engage a student, the value of the subject in the adult training program must be emphasized. As a result, both the immediate, short-term relevance of engaging with the subject and the long-term rewards of doing so should be emphasized so that the learner will quickly commit to adult learning. Using tools like videos, courses, and apps, a learning environment should be created to give learners the appropriate information they need for their learning path.

5. Practicality

When creating a training program, keep in mind that the knowledge obtained should be implemented immediately. When adults can turn around and use what they've learned in their role, they learn quickly and retain what they've learned. Learning materials should be built around real-world circumstances and practical examples.

6. Adults seek guidance and mentorship

Adult learners recognize the importance of experienced role models for guidance that will aid them in their adult learning. Creating mentorship opportunities as an organization builds its training programs may offer a lot of value for employees, with the added benefit of fostering relationships inside and across teams. A company can set up a mentorship program and adult learning that pairs younger energized employees with more experienced mentors.

7. Adults are receptive to new learning methods

Adults are adaptive when it comes to how they interact with knowledge. They recognize that it may be obtained in various ways and are eager to experiment with new formats. An organization may ensure that all learners have access to engaging learning content by providing a choice of sources and opportunities. An organization should include a variety of material formats in its training program, such as online courses, videos, blogs, etc.

Tips For Using These Principles

Following are a few tips to use these principles of adult learning:

  • To better assist learners, curate learning paths that are personalized for learners.
  • Provide bias training to help students obtain new information that contradicts their prior knowledge.
  • Ascertain that the material presented is pertinent to the learner's current role and issues at work.
  • Allow learners to engage with the types of information that are most relevant to them by providing a variety of options.
  • Concentrate on providing knowledge that may be utilized immediately in the learner's day-to-day role.
  • Be flexible and open-minded about adult learning; it doesn't have to occur in a classroom! Look for creative ways to provide knowledge.


Adult learning is critical for both individuals and businesses because it allows adults to build new abilities and grow while also allowing them to effectively transmit knowledge. Principles of adult learning should be used by organizations to make adult learning rewarding.

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