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Adult Learning

3 Theories of Adult Learning What Is Adult Learning Theory, and Why Should Every E-Learning Designer Be Aware Of It?

Incorporate training circles, the term “adult learning theory” is frequently used. Any idea?

First, let’s debunk a myth: there is no single adult learning theory. Several popular hypotheses describe how adults learn from various perspectives.

Adult learning theories include andragogy, neuroscience, experiential learning, self-directed learning, and transformational learning. All of these theories have the same purpose in mind: to assist you in creating effective learning experiences for adult business learners.

Adult Learning Theories: Why Do Instructional Designers Need to Know About Them?

Adult learning theories are more than just a bunch of jargon, notions, and beliefs about how adults learn. These theories will assist you in designing, developing, and implementing your course in a way that will aid in the learning process.

Here are four reasons why ID professionals should be familiar with adult learning theories:

Courses are mapped to perceived learner requirements to provide relevance.

to create teaching tactics that are aligned with real-world learning situations

To determine which technology best complements the educational strategy

To devise educational practices that are appropriate for digital-age and on-the-go students.

Andragogy: Tapping Into Prior Experience is the first theory.

The essence of the Andragogy theory, created by Malcolm Knowles in the 1970s, is the characteristics of adult learners and how they use their experiences to lead them along the learning journey. We’ve six ways to learn, according to Knowles:

Knowledge is required: Adults require an understanding of “why” they should learn.

Adults are motivated by internal motivations. If they want to learn, they will. 

How to help others improve their lives, and they learn best when they see the information will be useful right away.

Adults bring with them a rich reservoir of experiences that serve as the foundation for their learning. Through the lens of their experiences, they evaluate, reason, synthesize, and produce new ideas or alter old ones. You should dig into their wealth of experiences as instructional designers to help them discover connections, sense relevance, and find inspiration.

Self-Direction: Adults are self-directed learners who desire to be in command of their education. They are self-sufficient beings who wish to be in management.

Adult Learning Orientation: Adults learn best when they “do.” They view task-oriented learning to be relevant because yes can apply it in the workplace. Furthermore, task-oriented learning strengthens their problem-solving skills, assuring them that they can overcome their obstacles with their newly gained information.

Theory #2: Transformational Learning: Creating Aha Moments by Revealing Perspectives

We’ve all had those “aha” moments. Inspirational flashes have caused us to see reality in new ways—nuggets of knowledge that have shifted our perspectives. Deep revelations have shattered long-held ideas and conventions.

These are life-changing occurrences that alter our perceptions. Such encounters revitalize the mind, elicit strong emotions, and leave a lasting impact. It would be best if you attempted to create such learning experiences as an instructional designer. 

Adults learn through such aha moments, according to transformational learning theory. The theory is based on learning when new Meaning is imparted to a previous experience (Mezirow, 1990) or when an existing meaning is reinterpreted and seen in a new light.

There are three levels of learning according to the transformational learning theory:

Diagnosis of a Problem or a Crisis: The revelation that we’ve been holding on to incorrect notions or don’t know what we should know is frequently a catalyst for digging deeper and uncovering facts or reviewing our mindsets and thought patterns. We are all highly disturbed by the issue of not knowing or understanding that we have the wrong information. To pique your students’ interest in your course, you must bring out what they don’t know.

Establishment of Personal Relevance:  The answer is to the age-old question of “what’s in it for me?” that inspires people and motivates them to learn. The context might be personal, professional, or social, and it should be established directly at the start of the course to pique learners’ attention, and we should repeat it frequently to keep them engaged. When adults can see the outcomes of their efforts, they are more driven to learn.

Critical Thinking: Your students are sensible, rational individuals with their thoughts. They will be more inclined to suck again internalize the information if you allow them to go through their feelings and reviews on their own and understand what they need to discard or tweak. To urge people to re-examine their beliefs and attitudes, you should provide opportunities for critical reflection (premise reflection).

Experiential Learning: Tying Reality to Create Meaning is the third theory.

“Tell me, and I will forget,” Chinese philosopher Confucius stated. If you show me, I might remember. I’ll understand if you include me.”

 No amount of textbook study can replace the knowledge, clarity, and insight that comes from life experience for adults. Adult learning, according to the Experiential Learning Theory, is all about making sense of experiences. Adults learn best when they can apply what they’ve learned. Instead of remembering numbers and definitions from books, they know best when they are directly immersed in—”experiencing”—the learning.

Experiential learning is cyclical, according to David A. Kolb, who breaks it down into four stages:

Adults learn best when they have a learning experience that goes beyond the chalk-and-talk routine. Kinesthetic learning encourages physical activities (simulations) and realizing that elicits strong emotional responses (realistic scenarios that demonstrate cause-effect links) provides memorable experiences.

Reflective Observation (RO): Adults must engage with and reflect on their experiences to gain insights and knowledge. As a result, it’s vital to give chances for experiential learning and time and space for reflection. Create opportunities for people to “see” the activity (demonstrations) and “analyze” processes and procedures (scenario-driven activities, case studies).

Abstract Conceptualization (AC): The learner’s ability to decipher abstract concepts from their reflections, generalize these ideas, and comprehend the link to their reality is critical to experiential learning’s effectiveness. Creates exams that encourage students to use their “critical thinking” skills to develop concepts and methods.

Role-playing sessions, internships, and other hands-on projects allow learners to apply what they’ve learned, allowing them to actually “learn by doing.” Experimenting leads to concrete experiences, and the circle of experiential learning continues.