I often write about learning and the focus tends to fall on the qualities or traits our students exhibit so, by way of a change, I thought I’d share some thoughts with you about adults as learners. The following ideas came from an eLearning Industry paper produced in 2013 which centred on how to create and structure the right course content for adult learners. Take a moment to read through these and see whether or not the characteristics we display as adult learners bear any resemblance to those we might demonstrate as children. This would make a great dinner time discussion. Have the children ask you……… “What did you learn today?”
Adult Learners’ Traits
Adults feel the need to take responsibility for their lives and decisions and this is why it’s important for them to have control over their learning.
- Practical and results-oriented
Adult learners are usually practical, resent theory, need information that can be immediately applicable to their professional needs, and generally prefer practical knowledge that will improve their skills, facilitate their work and boost their confidence.
- Less open-minded
Adults are more resisitant to change. Maturity and profound life experiences usually lead to rigidity, which is the enemy of learning.
- Slower learning, yet more integrative knowledge
Aging does affect learning. Adults tend to learn less rapidly with age. However, the depth of learning tends to increase over time, navigating knowledge and skills to unprecedented personal levels.
- Use personal experience as a resource
Adults have lived longer, seen and done more, have the tendency to link their past experiences to anything new and validate new concepts based on prior learning.
Learning in adulthood is usually voluntary. Thus, it’s a personal choice to attend school, in order to improve job skills and achieve professional growth.
- Multi-level responsibilities
Adult learners have a lot to juggle; family, friends, work, and the need for personal quality time. This is why it’s more difficult for an adult to make room for learning.
- High expectations
Adult learners have high expectations. They want to be taught about things that will be useful to their work, expect to have immediate results, seek for a course that will worth their while and not be a waste of their time or money.