Teaching Adults to Learn


Teaching Adults


The purpose of training is to improve on the human performance. To achieve this, we need to be flexible in our approach, the strategies, techniques and methods we use. We need to understand what their needs are, why they are there, what they want to get out of the training.

1.     Self-Learning:

Whatever a trainee learns – they learn themselves. No one can learn for them. Learning is an individual process and therefore people differ in the way which they learn. To ensure effective training, a facilitator must manage the learning situation so as to create the best conditions to allow the learner to learn for themselves.

2.     Knowing what is Expected:

When people know what is expected of them, they are able to learn more effectively. The first step of the trainer, is clearly defining the specific objectives the trainee should achieve. It is easier to coach and give feedback once these objectives are clearly outlined.

3.     Turning Knowledge into a Skill:

When a trainee is motivated, he/she will apply what they have learnt faster and retain the knowledge for longer periods. To motivate, we need to turn our attention to the trainee’s needs, rewards and motivation. Some of the needs are:

•  Satisfied Needs: 

This need is not a motivator need. This theory is a propensity, once a lower need is satisfied the learner will seek after a higher need and thus growth starts to take place.

•  Anxiety Needs:

This need is associated with fear of failure. This can occur when a facilitator threatens punishment if the trainee fails to achieve the prescribed standard. Mild anxiety can be a motivator but if it is too intense it will interfere with the learning process. For example, having them write tests, being kept late, the threat of career changes, uncomfortable role-plays or exercises that are not relevant to the training, etc. This need can be associated with Maslow’s need of safety and security both physically and psychologically.

•  Need for Learning Companionship:

This includes friendship, belonging within the group, teamwork, helping others and being helped. Group discussions, case studies, etc. can motivate this.

•  Need of Approval:

The need for self-respect, self-esteem and ego. Individuals seek approval in the form of esteem or status from their peers. Many students study for degrees or diploma’s, not for the knowledge, but the status the certificate carries.

• Curiosity and Achievement Need:

This compares to Maslow’s need for self-actualisation. A trainee may strive for the actual success of the training rather than what the success can bring.

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