Adult learning at workplace is when adults acquire the skills and abilities needed to successfully obtain and keep jobs and progress in their professions. Adult learning is not a one-size-fits- all pattern. The way others need a variety of techniques to engage them, adults also require different approaches. To be efficient as a facilitator you need to understand how adults learn best. Adults have special needs as learners. Therefore, understanding adult learning theory is equally applicable to managers.
Ways to Maximize Adult Learning
If you can design your training to make your learners feel that they matter, you will surely enhance the learning experience for them
- Involve Adults in the Learning Process
- Adults are self- reliant. As a result, facilitators and managers should actively include them in the adult learning process. Adults want to be there and work. Ask them what they want to learn and have them become accountable for their own learning. Undertake job expansion and job sharing. This is very motivating to those adult employees who may be getting bored or easily troubled.
- Use Life and Work Experience
- Adults have life experiences encircling family, work, and previous education. Use their experience and build on that base. Associate their experiences to the theories being taught and engage them in sharing their knowledge. Have longer employed or more informed employees mentor younger employees. Adult learners are a precious resource because they bring the richness and diversity of their lives with them. They should be given the chance to use their existing knowledge and experience, which they can apply to new learning experiences.
- Appeal to Goals
- Adults are goal oriented and know what they want to achieve. They want to be in an environment that is organized and has vivid learning outcomes. Show how training will help them reach their goals. In fact, involve the adult learner in creating training goals.
- Relate learning to Actual Work
- For the adult learner, learning must be suitable to their work or other relevant responsibilities. Concepts should relate directly to their interests and be helpful to them in their work. Take pains to explain what they are doing and why. What the end product looks like and what role they play in creating that product. Explain how training will be useful to them on the job, or how what is being learned can be applied. Use different methods such as demonstration, practice, role play, movie clips, activities etc.
- Promote Flexible Engagement
- You can plan training that provides engagement flexibility, such as enabling learners to enroll the way they like, to engage with your content as they wish, to apply your theory into their own practice the way they want, and to feel as though they are responsible for their own success as they progress through your adult learning program, yet do it in a way that does not leave them secluded.
- Show Respect
- Adult learners need to be shown respect. Managers and facilitators should recognize the wealth of experiences that adult participants bring to the workforce and trainings. Adult learners want respect and to be seen as skilled learners. They should be given opportunity and be encouraged to set their own learning goals.
The focus on adult learning theory possesses the potential for greater success and requires a greater obligation on the part of the manager and facilitator. Adult learners come to work and training with certain hopes. If they can be shown that the work itself and the training benefits them soundly and practically, they will perform better, and the benefits will be long lasting.
As adult learners progress through the training, the more concrete results you can obtain for them, the higher their motivation and overall analysis of the training is likely to be. As leaders, we must ensure learners value the advantages of the training.