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.