Adults learn differently from children. According to Professor Malcolm Knowles, you need to take this into account when designing your courses and instructing them in the classroom.
- Adults are no longer dependent. They are responsible for themselves, so they are not waiting for orders. Give them space. Let them discover for themselves.
- Adults have a reservoir of experiences. Draw upon their experience in the class; evaluate their background; make connections.
- Adults are ready to learn. Adults are more mature and equipped to learn.
- Adults want to use their knowledge immediately. Make it problem-based, real-world, and relevant. Tell them how it will help them right away.
- Adults’ motivation to learn is internal. Learning is part of a larger goal (A new job, a college degree, a raise, personal pride, or enjoyment), not because they are forced to.
Principles of Teaching Adults
- Adults need to be involved in the learning process. Explain why they are learning something; give them a say; make it self-directed so they can discover knowledge themselves.
- Experience is the basis of learning. Make connections to their experience; account for different backgrounds.
- Adults want to learn relevant information they can apply immediately. Focus on issues related to their workplace or personal life; simulate job-tasks.
- Adult learning should be problem centered. Don’t just have them memorize, create problems for them to solve, tasks with room to make mistakes and learn from.