Adult Learners: How to Engage & Motivate Them to Learn. (2016, August 16). Retrieved January 21, 2017, from

I Really liked this article by growth engineering about motivation.

In the introduction they said ”The experiences we have in school as children can often dictate how we feel about and approach learning as adult learners in later life.” For me this relate somehow to the margin Theory of McClusky where he said that the margin ( Load/ Power) is determine between the age of 0 to 25.

*Margin: Margin is where the adult learning occur.

*Load : Demand from all life responsibility. (pay rent, laundry, kids, volunteering responsibility, goal, desire, expectation )

*P0wer: Ability to anser demands to carry the load (previous knowledge, health, strength, money, influence, ability to relate to friends and family, ability to reason )

The McClusky theory does affect my style of teaching because of the impact I could have on the load that every student carry. Dr Day and James determined the 4 way that a teacher could impact the load to increase the margin: attitude,  behavior, task and environment.

I try to work on my attitude because I want to be a good listener, have empathy and be easy to approaches for my students. Behavior from my part, I think is my strength, I always make eye contact, I gesticulate but not to much to distract. When it come to the task required by the students, in my  field I believe that they need to be limited and not required, if they want to take action it have to come from them. So I might suggest but not mandate. Environnement definition from Dr Day and James is different from  my recipe for positive environnement. It  is really the physical environnement that they refer to. This one could be tricky as a single personne to make changes but I could always recommend to my employeurs and keep the doughnut far away from my class. This is totally personal to me but a  class on a sugar crash is the last ting I’m looking for.

Then growth engineering get back to the 5 principles of adult training from Malcolm Knowles. I heard somewhere that we retain only 10% that what we learn in school and if I could pick one thing to retain it would be the principles of adult learning by Knowles. I think that if I could get these principle anchor in my practice and apply them in every lecture, E-learning curriculum development and tools that I develop I will be a great asset to any corporation. Knowing this theory principles is one but applying them is a totally different story.

1.They understand why they’re being taught it

They gave on example about sales training, maybe this is the reason that the article is interesting to me . To understand why the student is being taught, in the first 5 minutes or prior to the training, the student should know the end goal. That is why I’m a big fan of naming the training by he’s purpose. If you are  a software company and you are doing a training about  a new version of your product, the training should not be called version 3.7 but:

How get great commission selling version 3.7 for the sales department.

How to increase your customer satisfaction rate with version 3.7 for the customer service department.

How version 3.7 is more user friendly for the technical support team.

2.They have the freedom to learn their own way

This is why I’m a firm believer of blended training. I did a post on the generation challenge where I explain how every generation learn differently. I don’t think I need to explain how every individual learn differently. I remember my best friend in the school bus before a big exam she would be really annoying with a song that she made up herself to retain information. This wouldn’t work for me, but I was linking information between chapter and class subject and drawing graph. I had to see the big picture to retain information. Every person is different. Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic to different level and so much more that impact our personal learning ways. It’s a teaching style

Blended training did hit most  aspect of the different ways of learning if the ELearning part is well build. Blended training is also called hybrid learning and mixed-mode learning. It’s a teaching style where we use a mix of classroom and online training. Example if I come back to the new software 3.7 version. We might give a general E-learning video that explain the new feature to every employee in the company follow by a multiple choice questioner to do prior to the class training. The in class training should reflect every department needs thru like role play and exchange between each other on top of a lecture about what is the company goal and expectation. Maybe do some competitor feature exploration too. This should be follow by a other E-learning multiple choice exam and a survey monkey about the learning experience. I believe that every student would get is way in this kind of structure.

3.Learning is experiential

Experience is by far the best way of learning. When I was in sales in the roofing industry we called it: Touch it, Feel it, Taste it! When you are talking about a product made of bitumen and you link it to taste it is wired but was the best way. It was also much deeper then the kinaesthetic way. If I gave a training and just talk, the student engagement wasn’t at is best but if I gave sample to every students and ask them to hold the product and install it on a peace of wood as I’m giving them the specification. I would get more questions, they where interested and engage. Role-play is mandatory in every training for a job that include customer interaction.

4.The time is right for them to learn

For sure this is link to principle 1 the purpose of learning but adults could trick the adult brain just like we do with our kids. I often say to my daughter would like the unicorn pyjama or the cupcake with built in feet?  Then she would answer. What I really wanted to say is: Go put your pyjama! I got what I wanted and she think it was her choice. How would I apply the pyjama trick here, to get the learners to say that the time is right for them to learn in a mandatory corporation training? 90% of the time we have to give more then one session because you can’t stop the planet to turn because your employee are having training. You still need employee on the floor right. So we would devised the staff in groups so why not let them pick the time and day thru a doodle pool. Only one group set a fix day and let them vote on the time.

5.  The process is positive and encouraging

Always be happy, I’m coming from sales and I do understand how your personal attitudes impact others. Yes like everybody I could have a bad but in front of students is always the best day and enthusiastic. This goes much deeper then that. Gamification and prices to win could be grate tools. So many option but went it come to this point I think that in the field we sometimes forget the fondation of point 5 that is by happy, love what you do, do it with passion and your students will be passionate too.

I hope you appreciate the read and find it useful. Stay tuned for more information about the cognitive science of learning.


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