PIDP 3100 – Characteristics of Adult Learners



“When it comes to learning, adults are not over-sized children. Maturity brings unique characteristics that affect how adults are motivated to learn. By appealing to the unique qualities of adult learners, we can design more effective and motivating” courses.  We can engage our learners and maintain their attention by adapting our lesson delivery to their needs.

The importance of understanding the commonalities among adult learners cannot be underestimated.  As teachers and facilitators of learning, in general, we must acknowledge the following with respect to adult learners: autonomy, goal-orientated, practical, desire in competence and mastery, learning by experience, possession of wealth of knowledge, desire for purpose, emotional barriers, result oriented, have outside responsibilities, physical limitations, big picture view, responsible for self and the need for community.

All these areas are explained at length in the resource.  It is though acknowledging these areas that I feel I can effectively connect with my adult learners and thus more effectively facilitate their learning.  Although not all of the characteristics apply to all learners, they must be acknowledged and respected.  I plan to tailor my lessons to provide reasons as to why the lesson is important and how it will help them in the future.  I plan to set clear learning objectives to avoid confusion about what I would like them to learn from each session as well the course.  Provision of regular, timely and private feedback will facilitate a safe and regularly positive learning environment.  By applying “real life” scenarios and sharing my own experiences, I hope to engage the adult learner in discussion of subject matters.  In planning, delivering and assessments of course materials, the characteristics of adult learners will be applied as much as possible.



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