Aug 22, 2011, 1:01 PM
Treat me like a kid and I’ll act like one too...train me like an adult and I’ll show you what I can do. If the goal of training in your organization is to get your team to deliver results, then you need to understand adult learning theory. Our series on pedagogy (the art or science of teaching) versus andragogy (adult learning theory) has been the most-read series we’ve produced in the past 18 months here at Orgwide.  We have already discussed the first three principles trainers should be aware of and apply, the learner’s need to know, how the learner’s experience impacts their learning, and how the learner’s self-concept creates a self-directed learning experience increasing their commitment to learn and practical applications so that you can begin to put these principles to use. Today, let’s take a look at the last three principles of adult learning theory.4. The fourth principle about adult learners is that they are particularly ready to learn new information that can be applied instantly to their immediate situation. This is referred to as the principle of the readiness to learn.  Learning that can be applied to potential future situations is not of particular interest to them.APPLICATION: You can force a child to learn a new concept by using an authoritarian approach (“Just learn it!”), by threatening them with an exam (“This information will be on the test!”), or by explicitly linking a new concept to an interest of theirs. Typically, the authoritarian or exam approach doesn’t work well with most adults…heck; it doesn’t really work that well (from a retention standpoint) with children! Adults like to listen to their favorite radio station - WII-FM - the “What’s In It For Me” station. If you’re playing WII-FM, you’ll get them in the door and in a seat. The ability to link the information being presented to their specific need to use that information today is paramount to successfully training adults.5. The fifth principle describes adult learners as “life-centered” in their orientation to learning. They are interested in learning to solve problems or to complete tasks they encounter every day. Much of training today is subject-oriented or subject-centered. In contrast, adults learn best when the training is task-oriented or task-centered.APPLICATION: For example, if you were to teach a child about temperature and food safety, you would probably focus on facts for them to remember: what temperatures are safe under which conditions and for which types of foods. To make this topic life-centered or task-centered for adult learners, you would design the training to refer specifically to foods they would actually encounter in a typical day. You would discuss situations they might find themselves in such as how to make a decision about whether to keep or discard foods based on refrigerator temperatures as opposed to the green mold growing inside the Tupperware. In other words, you would draw your examples for an adult learner from their everyday lives.6. The last assumption about adult learners is motivation. Adults are more likely to respond to internal motivators like self-esteem, accomplishment and satisfaction than to external motivators like promotion or increased salary. The most effective incentives are those that come from within—such incentives will sustain the adult learner’s interest in learning the longest.APPLICATION: This understanding of adult learners is a very important tool for trainers. It suggests that you should always be looking for ways in which an adult learner can experience the successful completion of a goal. For example, to encourage the completion of a large goal, break it up into smaller, sequential goals and have the adult learner check off on a checklist the completion of each small goal  The satisfaction of completing the smaller goals will keep the learner on the path to completion of the larger and complete goal. Likewise, to teach a long lesson, break the lesson into smaller lessons and follow the delivery of each smaller lesson with an acknowledgement of success. The internal satisfaction of completing the smaller lessons will serve as a driver to complete the whole lesson.Now that you know the six principles of adult learning theory, there is no excuse for treating your staff like children while training them! Use these principles to train them like the adults they are and see your results improve. We’d love to hear how this blog series affected your training methods, so please contact us with any stories you’d like to share! Until then, remember to take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself!
Aug 15, 2011, 1:01 PM
Last week, we introduced the concept of andragogy, or the theory of adult learning.  Based upon the overwhelming response we received – we hit a nerve!  Therefore, I’m going to take the time to…
Aug 8, 2011, 1:00 PM
As a parent of a 21-year-old and a 16-year-old, I have heard the phrase, “Stop treating me like I’m a little kid” more times than I would like to admit. Changing my communication approach, as my…
Jul 26, 2011, 12:59 AM
by special guest blogger M. Wayne Puckett, D. M. What’s all the fuss about diversity anyway?  Most of us fancy ourselves as open and tolerant for the most part. We all have boundaries though and when…
Jul 26, 2011, 12:58 AM
We recently celebrated our one year anniversary in publishing the (thought)wide blog. Kind of ironic that we’d be celebrating an anniversary noted as “paper” for an electronic communication vehicle,…
Jul 19, 2011, 12:57 AM
The big financial news last week was the addition of 157K new jobs in the month of June.  The financial pundits are now saying that the job growth – primarily driven by the service sector, which…
Jul 12, 2011, 12:57 AM
 Welcome to part three of the O3 trilogy! If you’ve followed along in parts one and two, I’m sure you’re anxious to learn about the final two steps in the O3 problem solving cycle…at least until the…
Jun 14, 2011, 12:56 AM
Welcome to part 2 in our 3 part series on Problem Solving the O3 Way!   As a recap, Orgwide’s “O3” Problem Solving Process is a comprehensive approach to equipping managers with the leadership,…
Jun 14, 2011, 12:55 AM
Today, it’s not politically correct to use the term “problems” – everyone wants to call them “issues,” or “concerns” or my favorite, “opportunities.”  But, let’s face it – in business, we have…
Jun 7, 2011, 12:50 AM
We have received a great deal of feedback on our recent three-part series on Team Member Engagement. As you may recall, we defined an “engaged team member” as “one who is fully involved in, and…

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