Malcolm Knowles' Adult Learning Theory - Principle 1

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 1 – Relevance

Classic research by Malcolm Knowles decades ago identified a set of six adult learning principles pertaining to how adults learn differently from children. These principles are used to more effectively design, develop, and deliver effective adult learning events.  The resulting philosophy from his study is called the Adult Learning Theory or Andragogy.

There have been many additional studies done to determine how adult learners best receive and process information during a learning event. Brain-based learning researchers use updated brain imaging and studies done on the human brain to try to figure out the best training strategies and techniques for transferring learning from the classroom to the workplace. Here is one of the key adult learning principles from Knowles’ theory that you can use as a trainer or adult educator to help adults achieve maximum learning outcomes:

Relevance – Adults have a need to know why they should learn something.

Since time is so precious in today’s harried world, you must take the time at the beginning of your workshop to get learner buy-in. You can do this through the discussion of learning objectives that outline key outcomes that learners will take away and be able to apply following the session. Another approach is to tell learners ways in which they can use the information.

Remember, this may not be as obvious as you think to some people. For example, in describing these six core principles to a group of trainers in a train-the-trainer workshop, you could build in an activity in which learners work in small groups to discuss why each of these concepts is important and how they might be used in their own training sessions.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 1 – Relevance by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

For more information about the Adult Learning Theory, brain-based learning strategies and other important research and strategies for helping propel adult learners to more fruitful learning experiences, get copies of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results and The Creative Training Idea Books: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

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