The Principles of Adult Learning

By Barry Sweeny, Based on the Ideas of John Goodlad

ADULTS PREFER LEARNING SITUATIONS WHICH:

1. ARE PRACTICAL AND PROBLEM-CENTERED, SO…

  • Give overviews, summaries, examples & use stories
  • Plan for direct application of the new information
  • Design in collaborative, problem-solving activities
  • Anticipate problems applying the new ideas, offer suggested uses

CAUTION- Guard against becoming too theoretical.

2. PROMOTE THEIR POSITIVE SELF ESTEEM, SO…

  • Provide low-risk activities in small group settings
  • Plan for building success incrementally
  • Help them become more effective and competent

CAUTION- Readiness to learn depends on self-esteem


3. INTEGRATE NEW IDEAS WITH EXISTING KNOWLEDGE, SO…

  • Help them recall what they already know that relates to the new ideas
  • Help them see how the new information is relevant to them.
  • Plan ways they can share their experience with each other

CAUTION- find ways to assess participant knowledge before an event


4. SHOW RESPECT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL LEARNER, SO…

  • Provide for their needs through breaks, snacks, coffee, comfort
  • Provide a quality, well organized experience that uses time effectively
  • Avoid jargon and don’t “talk down” to participants
  • Validate and affirm their knowledge, contributions and successes
  • Ask for feedback on your work or ideas, provide input opportunities

CAUTION- Watch your choice of words to avoid negative perceptions

5. CAPITALIZE ON THEIR EXPERIENCE, SO…

  • Don’t ignore what they know, it’s a resource for youand for them
  • Plan alternate activities so you can adjust to fit their experience level
  • Create activities that use their experience and knowledge
  • Listen before, during and after the event

CAUTION- Provide for the possibility of a need to unlearn old habits

6. ALLOW CHOICE AND SELF-DIRECTION, SO…

  • Build your plans around their needs, compare goals & actual
  • Share your agenda and assumptions and ask for input on them
  • Ask what they know about the topic
  • Ask what they would like to know about the topic
  • Build in options within your plan so you can easily shift if needed
  • Suggest follow up ideas and next steps for after the session

CAUTION- Match the degree of choice to their level of development