Applying Maslow’s Hierarchy to Workplace Learning

Applying Maslow’s Hierarchy to Workplace Learning

Creative trainers who apply brain-based learning research to design, develop, and deliver their content recognize that there is more to sharing information with adults than just being a subject matter expert. As a facilitator of adult learning (andragogy), you must also be a student of human nature and understand what motivates learners and how they best gain, retain, recall, and use what they learn. So let’s take look at the idea of Applying Maslow’s Hierarchy to Workplace Learning. Applying Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation to Workplace LearningDr. Abraham Maslow studied the workplace motivation of employees in the years following World War II. His research has been referenced and adapted many times over the years. From a workplace learning perspective, you can use the five levels of motivation that Maslow identified to focus your efforts on encouraging learners to accomplish established learning goals and to reward them for successes.

Applying Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation to Workplace Learning by The Creative Trainer

The following are the five levels of need (from lowest to highest) in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs along with ways that you can address each level for your learners. As Maslow stressed, the basic needs must be fulfilled before any other level can be attained because the first level involves basic survival issues.

Basic/Physiological Needs

Maslow realized that people need to deal with survival needs before they move on to any other level of need. If they do not have the necessary food, clothing, water, shelter, and other crucial elements to survive, they are not likely to be concerned about learning new skills to qualify them for future jobs.

Training and development professionals typically address basic needs by providing such things as food and water throughout a session, allowing regular restroom or comfort breaks (at least every 60-90 minutes), and providing an adequate lunch period with nutritious food. They use instructional system design (ISD) strategies to create training programs and class content that add value and that will help learners maintain their current jobs and ultimately move on to higher-paying ones that will increase the amount of money they have available to satisfy basic needs.

Safety or Security

To address this level of the hierarchy, you must consider physical as well as psychological safety and security.

As a workplace learning professional you can do common sense things like making sure that the environment contains no safety hazards, such as equipment wires that are not taped down, broken furniture, boxes that can cause accidents or equipment that might fall and injure someone.

You can also provide mental security by stressing that the learning environment is a “safe” area in which they should feel free to ask questions, offer ideas, disagree, and explore issues that they have related to the topic without the feeling of intimidation, embarrassment or that someone will report back to their boss or human resources (assuming information disclosed does not violate policy or law or is not threatening). Also, explain how the material covered will assist learners to become more effective and efficient in the workplace or other situations, thereby helping to solidify their position in the organization as a knowledgeable, skilled employee or individual.


This level of Maslow’s theory deals with love, acceptance, friendship, and companionship. As a workplace learning professional or facilitator you can address the need that many people have to socialize and feel part of a group by designing programs that have a number of opportunities for participants to interact with you and other learners. You can also include a networking period before or after training or class or have a group luncheon where learners can share ideas and commune. This might even be a “working lunch” in which participants are given assignments to find out things about others in the group to solve problems.

There are literally hundreds of books and articles available to offer training activities that can help get participants actively engaged, networking, and brainstorming ideas during a learning event.


When people are at this point of Maslow’s hierarchy, they are focused on personal ego, what others think of them, self-respect, achievement, and receiving recognition for efforts given. Most people want to be respected and appreciated by others.

In a learning environment, you can address the esteem/self-esteem need by deferring to someone’s expertise or knowledge, recognizing accomplishments, and otherwise providing an environment where learners can feel the satisfaction of having others applaud accomplishments. You can also build in little accolades during training in which participants cheer or applaud the efforts of someone who accomplishes something, offers a solution, or otherwise does something worthy or group recognition. A simple round of applause for a good response might be appropriate from time-to-time to meet this need.


This is what the old U.S. Army slogan of “Be all you can be” was all about several years ago. Their premise was “Join us and we will provide you with the tools and support to reach your maximum potential.” To this end, as a workplace learning professional, you must identify what motivates adult learners and where they hope to go as it relates to the level of achievement in your sessions. Then, help them get there. This can be done through instruction, coaching, mentoring, and providing tools and resources to allow them to succeed in implementing what they have learned in training on the job.

The key to successfully applying Maslow’s theory or any other motivation concept is to remember that what motivates one person does not necessarily motivate another. In fact, some motivators might actually de-motivate an adult learner.

Consider all learners when designing and using strategies in your sessions. Make sure that you provide a wide spectrum of rewards, incentives, and opportunities so that you appeal to all levels of learning need.

For more ideas on how to address learner needs and build in elements related to brain-based learning research, get a copy of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing, and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results and The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

The Trainer’s Role in the Adult Learning Environment

The Trainer’s Role in the Adult Learning Environment

Your role as a facilitator of knowledge exchange is to ensure that your adult learners “get it.” Anything less means that you failed to meet their learning needs. You can have all the knowledge in the world between your ears; however, if you cannot effectively communicate it in a way that allows your learners to “gain it, retain it, recognize and recall it and use it,” they will likely leave the room feeling cheated.

The Trainer's Role in the Adult Learning Environment

To ensure that there is a transfer of learning from you to learners during training, and ultimately to the workplace, you must act as a conduit in the knowledge exchange process. Your challenge is to make everything you do learner-centered since your participants are the only purpose for your being there. Without your learners, you are not needed in the learning environment. To accomplish all this, actively engage learners from the beginning of the session or workshop and continue to do so at various points throughout the session. Give them information, let them experience and apply it, and then review the information or concepts periodically.

The key to effective learning is to not only provide information but also show participants how to apply it outside the classroom. Do not assume that they will get it on their own since they might be distracted, confused by your approach or explanation, or simply may not understand a key point. Give examples, build in activities where they can discuss and process information (small group discussion, problem-solving, role-play, demonstrations, and open-ended question forums) to draw them in and verify that they grasp your meaning.

Above all, when you design and deliver information, apply brain-based learning concepts such as motion, novelty, sound/music, color, and engagement to maximize learning potential.

The Trainer’s Role in the Adult Learning Environment by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

For additional ideas on how to effectively design brain-based learning events, actively engage learners and reinforce key concepts while helping ensure positive learning outcomes and transfer of learning, get copies of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results, The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, and Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

There are many ways to spark excitement, energize learners, and generate enthusiasm in your sessions. Take the time to search out and develop strategies and techniques that are innovative and require learners to think while having fun and enjoying their experience. So let’s take a look at 6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm!

Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

Here are six ways that you can help stimulate enthusiasm in your learning events.

6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm

1.  Be enthusiastic about your facilitation.

Through your own interest and excitement, you can help engage and stimulate learners. If learners perceive that you are just a “talking head” who is regurgitating memorized information or parroting what is on your slides, they will likely tune out early in the session and you will not regain their attention.

Keep your information and delivery format fresh by updating and adding to content and design on a regular basis. For example, if you deliver the same content regularly (e.g. new hire orientation), change the icebreaker or other activities that you use periodically. This will require you to stay alert and think about what you need to do, thereby keeping you alert and making your delivery seem new and more stimulating.

2.  Plan and deliver activities that add value.

Your goal is the overall accomplishment of learning objectives. Do not add activities or other content and training aids just because they are fun or you like them. Make sure that anything you do, say or use in your programs is relevant to session content, aids learning, and is tied directly to desired learning outcomes.

3.  Ensure that initiatives are well organized.

Take time to prepare and practice before learners arrive. One of the worst things that a facilitator can do is to stumble along, rely heavily on notes and training aids, and appear uncertain about what they should do or say next. Become proficient with the information and training aids that you will use and do not spend time learning while participants are present.

4.  Clearly and concisely deliver directions.

To ensure that participants get the maximum benefit from all activity in a session, take the time to explain what learners are to do. Since people are either visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners (or some combination of the three) prepare instructions in several formats to ensure everyone gets what you want them to do. For example, instead of just verbally sharing activity instructions, put them in writing on a handout, flip chart, or slide and discuss them as you show the training aids. Leave the instructions on display during the activity so that learners can refer back to them for clarification if needed.

5.  Communicate the purpose and Added Value And Results For Me (AVAR-FM) of the activity.

It is crucial that learners have the value of what they are doing explained so that they will understand potential benefits. Tell them exactly what benefits they will personally gain from the information you provide.

Making an assumption that the objective of an activity should be obvious could be a serious mistake. Remember that people learn and process information differently.

6.  Solicit questions, comments, or suggestions.

Before participants begin an activity, take the time to ask if everything is clear and to determine if all their questions related to the activity be answered before they begin.

Throughout your session, you also provide multiple opportunities for learners to provide feedback and suggestions on how your facilitation of content or activities might be enhanced to add value. By effectively planning your session content and activities and setting expectations for learners, you are more likely to tie into learner motivation and generate enthusiasm for your programs. Since brain-based learning research shows that by actively engaging learners, you increase the potential for more effective learning and memory enhancement; your sessions will likely be better received.

6 Strategies for Energizing Learners and Generating Enthusiasm by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

For additional ideas on how to effectively engage learners during training and educational events, get a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning or Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at or his blog

Three Strategies for Making Activities Effective in Adult Learning

Three Strategies for Making Activities Effective in Adult Learning

Like any other successful portion of a training or educational event, you must design energizer activities effectively if they are going to effectively and accomplish your intended purpose when working with adult learners.

The following three tips can help make your next adult learning session more successful:

1.  Provide adequate room.

Often trainers and adult educators fail to think through the activities that they will use with their learners. As part of the session planning, think about how many people you will have, how many groups will participate and how much space you will need to conduct each learning activity. Obviously, if the activity is an individual effort where learners work on own and then report to the rest of the group, you will need less floor space. However, if you plan to get training participants up and moving to stimulate their brain neurons through active learner engagement, you will need to plan additional space.  Always factor in time and extra space when having them move chairs, tables or other items.

Three Strategies for Making Energizer Activities Effective in Adult Learning

2.  Allow plenty of time.

When planning energizers and other types of activities, a big mistake that some trainers and educators make is to underestimate the amount of time for setting up, participation and debriefing of an activity.

This is often very frustrating for adult learners, shows a lack of experience or professionalism on the part of the trainer or educator, and contributes to an ineffective learning experience. Once you explain an activity, provide materials and have learners start to accomplish the assigned task(s), step back, observe, offer appropriate guidance throughout, and let the activity run its course.

When you are creating a training agenda, it is better to plan too much time, than not enough. Learners should have time to experience the full impact of the learning objectives for the activity so that they can maximize learning outcomes.

3. Encourage risk-taking.

The final tip for making sure that your energizer activities are effective is to encourage adult learners to think outside the box and take risks in activities where problem-solving, decision-making and other situations where they individually or jointly look for solutions related to the session learning objectives are involved. For example, having frontline employees self-disclose an aspect of their jobs would likely be a low-risk activity for them.

However, you can bump up the level of risk and engagement by asking them to share something they like and dislike about their jobs and how they would fix the latter if they were in a leadershipThree Strategies for Making Energizer Activities Effective in Adult Learning position. Just be careful to set up a scenario appropriately so that the activity does not turn into a gripe session or become derogatory towards their supervisor or organization. Always focus on positives.

Making Activities Effective in Adult Learning by The Creative Trainer

You might use a risk-taking energizer for a variety of workplace-related topics or other pertinent situations on a session topic.

For additional creative training tips, techniques, and strategies that can assist you into turning your adult learning sessions into powerful training or academic events, get copies of Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners or The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Engaging Learning Modalities in Training to Make Learning Stick

Engaging Learning Modalities in Training to Make Learning Stick

Engaging Learning Modalities in Training to Make Learning Stick

Most trainers, facilitators and adult educators are familiar with differences in the way adults learn. Even so, some struggle with finding ways of engaging learning modalities in training. Often, this is due to the fact that we all have a comfort zone that influences the way that we share information. This approach is often rooted in our own learning modality (style) preference. If you are not aware of your learning style preference(s), you may end up delivering information that addresses your preferences; not your adult learners.

People take in environmental stimuli through the primary senses (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling). In a classroom, three dominant learning preferences are evident (visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile). Your knowledge of these preferences and how to effectively address them can aid you in engaging learning modalities in training sessions that you facilitate.

The following three ways that adult learners typically prefer information be delivered and some suggestions for engaging learning modalities in training. The percentages shown next to each modality indicates how dominant preference is in a given classroom. According to Laurie Ellen Materna in her book Jump-Start the Adult Learner: How to  Engage and Motivate Adults Using Brain-Compatible Strategies these numbers are a range, based on various studies on learning modalities. A key point to remember related to learning modalities is that while most people have a primary preference, they also learn through other senses as well. For that reason, your session design should include a variety of techniques and strategies that continually alternate between the modalities so that all learners remain engaged.

Visual learners (40-65%). People with this preference get the most benefit from the information that they see or can visualize. They typically have strong spelling and organizational skills and take a lot of notes or use mind mapping techniques to make information visual for themselves. To help visual learners maximize their learning experience, you might build in the following types of opportunities when designing your session:

  • Written instructions on a flip chart, handout or slide that is visible for the duration of an activity.
  • Illustrations, graphics (e.g. pictures, cartoons, caricatures, photos, or clip art), diagrams and charts in handouts, on a flip chart or writing board, or in slides.
  • Demonstrations that show the operation of an item or process.
  • Organized lists or process diagrams that step-by-step procedures.
  • Visioning exercises in which you have melodic music playing in the background as you have learners close their eyes and envision a situation that you describe. They are then asked to imagine a solution or alternative to what you have described when they open their eyes.
  • Quotes with accompanying images related to the session topic posters, flip charts, or slides throughout the session.
  • Multimedia in the form of movie clips, slide shows, and webinars or other online visual aids.

Auditory learners (25-30%). People with this learning preference typically gain more from hearing information. They often like things verbally shared or explained and do well in situations where there is a verbal exchange of information. Provide multiple types of auditory stimulation for this group of learners. Some possibilities include:

  • Provide verbal instructions (coupled with written for the visual learners) for activities.
  • Eliminate excessive background noise which tends to attract their attention (e.g. side conversations that are not a topic relevant in the room)
  • Having them or others read information aloud.
  • Small group discussion, brainstorming, and dialogues.
  • Recordings of information played to the group.
  • Question and answer (Q&A) sessions.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Roleplay.
  • Debates.
  • Breakout groups.
  • Session related music before the program starts and during breaks.

Kinesthetic/Tactile learners (5-15%). The third learning modality that you will encounter in your session prefers a physical engagement. Sitting without moving for long periods of time is extremely difficult for these learners. Movement helps them process information more effectively. Some strategies to assist them in maximizing their learning potential include:

  • Group activity that requires them to physical relocate or move to engage with others.
  • Manipulative toys or items on their table that they can quietly “play” with throughout the session (.g. Koosh Balls, foam stress toys, pipe cleaners and Play Doh that they can use to fashion items or figures.
  • Field trips.
  • Stretching/energizers.
  • Role play.
  • Writing activities (e.g. journaling, charting and note taking)
  • Drawing or doodling.
  • Demonstrations that they have to conduct.
  • Games.
  • Simulations.
  • Stand up discussion groups in which learners capture ideas on a flip chart or note pad.

These are just a few of the ways for engaging learning modalities in training. For additional ideas on the subject, search this blog and the Internet. Also check on Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners, Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events that Get Results, and The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Make Learning Fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

Make Learning fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

Make Learning Fun for Adults by Using Creative Training Strategies

If you make learning fun for adults that does not mean that your training sessions are ineffective. In fact, brain-based learning research indicates the usefulness of adding novelty. For example, you can use elements like learner engagement activities, color, music, sounds, and other active approaches. These can contribute to learning when you use them effectively. Just remember that anything that you say or use in a session should contribute to accomplishing your stated learning objective. Do not use an activity or training aid just because it is familiar to you or can provoke a laugh. Adult learners typically consider these a waste of time.

For years, adult learning environments were traditionally modeled after academic classrooms with rows of tables facing the front of the room. The teacher or professor was the center of attention. Because most trainers were exposed to such configurations, they often model their own adult learner classrooms in the same fashion. Thankfully, many trainers and adult educators have discovered creative training or accelerated learning techniques. These can help create environments where adult learners actually enjoy their training experience and learn more.

Following are easy to apply creative training ideas that can potentially enhance learning outcomes to help make learning fun. By adding a bit of novelty and competition, you can potentially motivate some learners.

Spin to win

Add excitement and build an atmosphere of fun through the use of large prize wheel spinners. Use these for review activities in which you list key concepts on the wheel spokes. Once a participant spins they have an opportunity to describe or explain the concept and win a small prize.  You can also use a spinner to list a variety of small prizes that participants who correctly answer questions or volunteer get to spin and win.

Cash in with play money

If you are doing cashier or financial related training, use realistic-looking play money to simulate actual currency and add a sense of reality. You can also use play money to reward participants who volunteer, correctly respond to your questions, and arrive in class or return from breaks on time. At the end of the session,  learners can use their money to buy small session-related items that you provide. These small mementos will often end up on a desk or bookshelf in an office or at home. When the participants see them, they are potentially reminded of the session and its content, thus reinforcing the learning.

These creative training ideas, along with many other ways to make learning fun and engage learners, are from Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

Creative Training Ideas that Stimulate Adult Learners

Creative Training Ideas that Stimulate Adult Learners

Creative Training Ideas that Stimulate Adult Learners

Brain researchers have made tremendous strides in discovering how the human brain functions and processes information. For example, they have discovered that various environmental elements can have an impact on learning and memory formation. Among others, factors such as nutrition, hydration, color, light, sound, motion, movement, and novelty can potentially aid learning in training sessions. The determinant is often the way and degree to which you introduce each element in brain-based learning environments. The important point to remember when considering how to apply what we know is that creative training ideas that stimulate adult learners can potentially make training more fun and productive if used properly.

In the past three decades, I have been writing about and applying creative training strategies in order to add pizzazz to my classroom environments. When sharing ideas on brain-based learning with other trainers I typically role model the techniques being used. I also engage them in activities where they can experience the processes first hand. This approach relates to the research on brain processes and provides knowledge and skills that learners can immediately apply in their own training sessions.

The following are two creative training ideas that stimulate adult learners that I cover in my books and creative trainer programs. Additional ones are posted throughout this blog and in the resources listed at the end of this article.

Balloon reviews.

Put one small strip of paper with a key term, concept or idea related to session content covered to the point of your review inside a variety of colored balloons. Blow up the balloons and tape them around the room before participants arrive. When ready to review, ask volunteers near each balloon to retrieve one, and on your instruction, pop them. Each person is to retrieve their paper strip and, in turn, read the content from their strip aloud. Have other volunteers define or explain what the terms or concepts mean and how they might apply it. Reward all volunteers with a small session-related prize or candy. This activity addresses the use of brain-based elements of sound, motion, movement, review, color, fun, novelty, and reward/recognition.

Manipulative toys.

Most adults enjoy an opportunity to reflect back on their childhood experiences. By placing small soft manipulative toys on each participant’s table before they arrive, I provide that opportunity. I use Koosh balls, foam squeeze toys, flexible rubber bendable, and other simple toys. In my opening remarks, I explain that some research identifies 5%-15% of learners as preferring a kinesthetic learning style preference. In other words, their brain processes information best when it (or they) are actively engaged. I also share that they are free to quietly “play” with their toys during the session, as long as they do not do anything that distracts others. I even encourage them to trade with others if they see a toy they’d prefer to have. Depending on the items provided, I either tell learners that they can keep the toys as a memento of the session or I collect them for future reuse. Using manipulative toys relates to brain-based learning concepts of learner engagement, addresses the needs of kinesthetic learners, adds a bit of fun and novelty to the session, and injects color into the environment.

To get additional creative training ideas that stimulate adult learners, search this blog site for brain-based learning, accelerated learning and creative training. You can also check out The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners, and Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events that Get Results.


Ways to Engage Adult Learners Before Training Begins

Ways to Engage Adult Learners Before Training Begins

Ways to Engage Adult Learners Before Training Begins

Have you ever walked into a learning session, meeting or adult academic classroom and felt like you were in the Twilight Zone? Other zombies like you meandered around, seeking guidance. They might have moved toward refreshments, searched for a seat among the dozens available, or sat bashfully looking at their smartphone or flipping through handouts provided on tables. It is almost as if they have reverted back to their childhood classroom in which they are waiting for permission before saying anything or getting involved. This does not need to occur if you tap into brain-based learning research about how the brain processes information. There are many ways to engage adult learners before training begins. You just have to tap into YOUR brain and come up with creative training strategies to kick-start your learner’s brains.

Start by setting the tone of the classroom to match the session content that you will facilitate. In doing this, keep in mind that training time is precious. Adult learners are also usually overwhelmed in their lives and do not want to feel that they are wasting valuable time. Everything that you use, do, say, or have your adult learners do should focus on one thing – the achievement of the session learning objectives.

To create a valuable learning experience for your session attendees, build in ways to engage everyone and get them to start thinking about session content before the program even begins. You can get them tuned in to the session topic by subconsciously planting seeds around the room related to it. Also, look for ways to stimulate their brain neurons. Do so by incorporating environmental elements that neuroscientists and brain-based learning researchers have discovered can potentially contribute to a more meaningful learning experience. These elements, such as, include light, sound, color, motion, novelty, fun, and engagement.

The following are three easy ways to engage adult learners before training begins.

Use content-related music. Numerous studies identify ways that music impacts the brain and influences memory formation. Music is a powerful stimulus and taps into emotions. Think of your own memories and experiences. When you hear certain songs, do you reflect on past experiences? Can you recall when you first heard a given song? Do you remember your location, what you were doing and who you were with? The same thing can happen if you choose the right music in your classroom. Some research indicates a higher level of recall when you associate information and activities with a specific song or type of music.

You can contribute to the theme of a session by selecting songs or lyric themes that relate to program content. For example, years ago, I facilitated a time management session. I searched for songs that had the theme of time in the title or in the lyrics (e.g. Time in a bottle, Time has come today, Time of the season, and It’s a five o’clock world). This music was playing as learners arrived and during breaks. In my opening remarks, I referenced the music and brought about a discussion of the role that time plays in the workplace and the world. My intent was to create an environment in which time was on the minds of the learners. By doing this, I pulled from my toolbox of ways to engage adult learners in order to help energize and reinforce the learning environment.

Ways to Engage Adult Learners Before Training BeginsIn-class assessment activity. One thing that I often do in my sessions to gather information about my learners is to conduct a visual assessment activity. I do this to gather information about them, their needs and, most importantly, to engage them as soon as they enter the room. To accomplish this, I either post a flip chart or prepare a “Welcome” handout on colorful paper that includes instructions for the activity (see sample to the left).

Next, I prepare a series of flip chart sheets that I post on the wall and put water-based flip chart markers (so they do not bleed through and damage walls) on a chair below each page in advance. I also put a blank sheet of paper behind each flip chart page to further help protect the walls. On each sheet is a different closed-end question related to the session topic. For example, in a train-the-trainer program, I have charts like the ones below.

Further, I tally the results for each page before starting the session. I can refer to the totals in my opening remarks and relate the questions to content that we will cover in the session.

Ways to Engage Adult Learners Before Training BeginsWays to Engage Adult Learners Before Training Begins Ways to Engage Adult Learners Before Training BeginsCreate a “fun” or festive environment. Like children, most adults like to have a bit of fun when they are performing tasks. You can help address this desire by using a variety of sensory stimuli to your training room. In addition to upbeat music playing as learners enter, I often use an assortment of colorful and functional props in my training sessions. For example, I use a variety of different colored balloons on walls with a small strip of paper that has a different key term or concept from the session inside each balloon. When I am ready to conduct an interim or final content review, I ask for volunteers to retrieve and pop these. They then locate their paper strip and, in turn, read their term or concept to the group. Volunteers can raise their hand or stand to provide a definition or explanation for each term or concept. Rewards are given to all volunteers. This simple activity reinforces material covered, adds fun, movement, learner engagement, sound (as balloons burst), incentives, and color to the session.

If you want more creative training ideas and ways to engage adult learners before training begins or during an adult learning session, search this blog for learner engagement, brain based learning, creative training ideas and related terms. Also, check out The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning and Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques that Engage Learners.

Do you have creative ideas or ways to engage adult learners in your classrooms that might benefit other readers? Please share them in the comments section.

Make Training Reviews Fun in Adult Learning Sessions

Make Training Reviews Fun in Adult Learning Sessions

Make Training Reviews Fun in Adult Learning Sessions

Many trainers and adult educators struggle to find ways to gauge learning effectiveness, reinforce what has occurred in the classroom and effectively engage adult learners. If you simply design their sessions to make training reviews fun, all of these goals can be accomplished.

By thinking back on your own early childhood learning experiences, you can often gain ideas on ways to enthuse adult learners and energize your training environments. Much of what we know as adults began when we were just starting school. Teachers had us on the floor, playing with toys, games and other items that tied to the concepts they wanted to reinforce. We were laughing, sharing, engaging and enjoying the experience without even realizing that we were learning important life lessons. These techniques can also be useful to you in delivering adult learning sessions.

One fun and novel way that I use to engage my adult learners and make training reviews fun is to use a creative musical toy game called “Pass the Pickle.” After I have covered numerous key concepts, I sometimes use it as an interim review activity at some point during a session. This game is an effective and fun energizer when the information shared has been a bit tedious or complex (e.g. required orientation, regulatory or legal training). I also use it when I want to get learners moving to stimulate their brain a bit. In other sessions, I use the game at the end of a session to review and reinforce key concepts and ideas explored during the session.

I conduct the activity in the following manner, but you can modify as you desire:

  • Form small groups of 6-8 people in circles at the back of the training room and randomly select a group leader.
  • Give each group leader a Pass the Pickle toy.
  • Instruct leaders to push the button on the bottom of the toy when you say “Go.”
  • Toys are passed clockwise around each circle during the game.
  • When the music stops (it is randomly programmed to stop at different time lengths), the person holding the toy shouts out one key term or concept learned during the session. These cannot be repeated by another participant later.
  • That person then restarts the toy, passes it to their left and steps back out of the circle to observe and listen as concepts are reinforced.
  • When only one person remains in each group, stop the review activity.
  • Have everyone give a round of applause for their effort.
  • Reward group leaders with candy or a small incentive related to the session topic (e.g. a toy, prize or otherwise). Reward examples might include a smile face toy in a customer service session, a foam squeeze toy in a stress management class, or something related to money for a group of cashiers.
  • Have everyone take a seat.
  • Facilitate a group review in which participants randomly volunteer to stand and share some of the key concepts they experienced.
  • Reward volunteers who share ideas with an incentive.

By taking time to make training reviews fun you are tapping into the neuroscience of learning (also known as brain based learning). Researchers have identified numerous factors that can be used to help stimulate brain neurons and create an environment in which learning potential is enhanced. Fun, novelty, music, learner engagement. movement, and repetition are just a few of the elements that you can use in your adult learning sessions to actively involve participants in the learning process.

For more ideas on ways to make training reviews fun in adult learning sessions, and actively engage your adult learners, read other articles on this blog. Also check out The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events that Get Results, and  Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

Engage Adult Learners: 4 Active Strategies that Get Results

Engage Adult Learners: 4 Active Strategies that Get Results

Engage Adult Learners: 4 Active Strategies that Get Results

There are many ways to engage adult learners in your classroom. The key is to consider factors such as audience composition, venue, types of training aids and equipment that you will use, available time and other pertinent factors when designing your learning event. In addition, consider the following four active training strategies that in your design in order to your participants.

Make the classroom active.

If you have been a trainer and adult educator for any period of time, you likely been exposed to the concept of active learning. An easy way to engage adult learners is to design your session content and delivery effectively. Ensure that you offer a variety of learning strategies and use creative training techniques that will help accomplish objectives and stimulate learners. Include movement, activities, periodic reviews, varied visual aids, music and other elements to gain and hold learner attention. Apply brain-based learning environmental elements that researchers have identified as having a positive impact on the brain. For example, color, sound, motion, light, novelty, vegetation, nutrition, and hydration.

Address all learning modalities (styles).

Neuroscientists and researchers continue to explore the nuances of how the human brain best gains, retains, recalls and uses information. Depending on the research study that you reference, you are likely to find learners in your sessions who prefer visual stimulation (40-65%), auditory input (25-30%) or kinesthetic stimulation (5-15%). Most people have a primary and secondary learning modality preference and gather information in multiple ways. The key to ensuring that all learners have an opportunity to maximize their learning potential is to continually provide material and use creative training strategies that address all three learning modality preferences.

Allow learners time to discover.

If you truly want to help adult learners maximize their learning experience, do not be a “sage on the stage” who provides all the answers. Unlike children, adults come to the learning environment with a lot of personal knowledge and experience. Capitalize on this by creating situations and activities in which each person can become an active participant. Tap into what your learners already know and help them share it with one another. Your role as an instructor or facilitator is to provide the framework under which learning can take place. Design session structures that offer ample time for participants to interact and engage one another. Use brainstorming, games, discussions, role-plays and other interactive strategies. Offer thoughts, theory or challenges and then step back and let learners take over. Do not provide all the answers. Give learners the tools to create and arrive at decisions or develop ideas and strategies that they can immediately apply after they leave the session.

Provide interim opportunities for reflection and assimilation.

Make sure that you build in periods during your session and at the end, in which learners have an opportunity to think about what they experienced. Prompt them to capture their ideas, thoughts, or questions on paper for future reference and follow-up. For example, you might provide a problem scenario related to the session topic, then have learners break into groups to identify possible solutions or strategies to address it. After you lead and a debriefing and collection of their ideas or thoughts on a flip chart, have them write pertinent information that they can use later.  They should also write questions that they want to take back to their team or supervisor to discuss.

To learn more about ways to engage adult learners, review other articles on the topic on this blog. The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques that Engage Learners and Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events that Get Results also contain thousands of ideas and strategies for creating stimulating and effective learning events.