Teaching Strategies for Adult Learners

Teaching Strategies for



Learning Structure

Make it relevant because adult learners need to be able to see the relevancy of what they are learning.

Tell the learners the benefits to them (“What’s in it for me?”). Make sure adults understand why something is important to know or do.

Relate the learning to learner’s goals.

Give the learners the big picture and explain how the material and information fits into their job responsibilities.

Have clearly defined goals, objectives, and agenda.

Recognize the value of experiences and knowledge participants bring to the training.

Relate the material to the learners past experiences.

Encourage participants to draw on their experiences and knowledge related to the topic.

Integrate emotionally-driven content.

Break up sessions with different training methods (lecture, Q&A, hands on).

Give the learners independence and freedom to learn in their own way.


Learning Environment

Set a risk free climate in order to gain the most participation.

Allow the learner to be autonomous and self-directing.

Take the spot light off the trainer/teacher and put it on the learners.

Serve as their facilitator, rather than trainer/teacher.

Encourage learners to be resources to each other.

Allow debate and challenge of ideas.

Remember adults have a serious purpose, and they will want the most from their learning sessions. Stay focused on the topic.

Remember adults need any fears, doubts and questions settled before they are ready to move on to new topics.


Learning Activities

Actively involve participants.

Adults are problem centered not information centered, therefore, don’t data dump, allow adults to solve problems.

Include activities and assignments that encourage the learners to explore.

Use storytelling and case studies to make the subject matter more interesting and relatable for them.

Have a task-centered approach to learning that allows learners to perform tasks.

Focus on “real world” problems.

Emphasize on how learning can be applied.

Allow the learner to apply the information immediately.

Offer immediate feedback to allow learners to learn from mistakes.

Remember adults have a great amount of pride, therefore, gauge their reactions to assess if they comprehend the topic.




Treat learners like adults.

Treat them like equals rather than subordinates.

Listen to and respect their opinions.

Recognize adults have set habits.

Recognize adults have a many preoccupations outside of a particular learning situation.



Related Links

Adult Learning Principles

Strategies for Teaching Adult Learners

Adult Learning

How Children and Adults Learn


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