Adult Learning Quick Takes: Directed

Adult Learning Quick Takes: Directed

Over the next few weeks, we're discussing some foundational information related to adult learning, based on the acronym "ADULT." Today, D:

Adults are DIRECTED. They are goal-oriented. Adult learners will come into your course looking for just what they need and no more. If some material doesn’t seem to apply to their situation, they’re likely to ignore it. The strongest motivation to learn comes from a current problem they face and need to solve.

Security guard on dutyNotice how you learn: do you zero in on what’s useful to you and skim or ignore the rest?

How often do you read an instruction manual just to learn about the machine, rather than to figure out how to do something (or fix something!)?

To reach out to adult learners, let them direct the training experience. How might you do this?

  • Ask them for their interests or issues of concern, and let this information direct your presentation.
  • A Q&A session (well managed to avoid individuals dominating the conversation) can be a great method.
  • Where learners have ideas and expertise to share (and this is the case more than you might think, according to Robert R. Johnson's concept of metis), "idea exchange" sessions are a great option.
  • Where you have ongoing learning opportunities, collecting and acting upon feedback can do much to make learners feel heard and to meet their training needs.