Friday Fresh #34: Adult Learning Theory and How to Gain From It

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Fresh!

Today, we’re exploring a game-changer in the realm of corporate training: Adult Learning Theory, also known as andragogy. This concept is pivotal for anyone dedicated to crafting impactful and engaging corporate learning experiences. Let’s dive into how understanding the unique learning preferences of adults can revolutionise your training programs.

Adult Learning Theory: The Cornerstone of Effective Corporate Training

Developed by Malcolm Knowles in 1968, Adult Learning Theory distinguishes how adults learn differently from children. Knowing these differences helps in tailoring training that adults find relatable and valuable. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Self-Concept: Adults progress from dependent learning to a more self-directed style as they mature.
  • Experience: Adults bring a wealth of experience to their learning, providing a rich resource for learning and teaching.
  • Readiness to Learn: Adults learn best when the learning is relevant to their job or personal life.
  • Orientation of Learning: They prefer learning that is practical and can be applied immediately.
  • Motivation: Unlike children, adults are mostly motivated by internal drives such as career advancement or personal satisfaction.

Principles of Andragogy: Tailoring Training to Adult Learners

To effectively apply Adult Learning Theory, consider these four principles:

  1. Involvement in Learning Decisions: Adults thrive in learning environments where they can influence what, when, and how they learn.
  2. Leveraging Experience: Utilising the learners’ previous knowledge and experience can enhance the new learning experience.
  3. Problem-Centered Approach: Adults prefer to learn through problem-solving rather than passive content absorption.
  4. Immediate Application: The learning should be applicable in their current roles or future aspirations.

Practical Tips for Applying Adult Learning Theory in Corporate Settings

  • Engage with Learners: Include learners in planning and tailoring the training. Their input can make the learning experience more relevant and engaging.
  • Enable Self-Directed Learning: With tools like Learning Management Systems (LMS), you can offer flexible, self-paced learning options that cater to individual learning styles and schedules.
  • Real-World Relevance: Use scenarios and examples that reflect actual challenges they might face, enhancing the practicality of the training.
  • Encourage Problem-Solving: Design content that challenges learners to apply what they’ve learned in realistic settings, enhancing retention and skill development.
Final Thoughts

Adopting bite-sized learning in your training offerings can significantly enhance how your learners interact with and benefit from CPD. By breaking down information into manageable parts, you make continuous learning a more attractive and feasible goal. Stay innovative, embrace flexibility, and watch how bite-sized learning can transform professional development in your organization.

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