Learning Strategies That Actively Engage Learners

Brain Based Learning Strategies That Actively Engage Learners Can Increase Learning Outcomes

Brain-Based Learning Strategies That Actively Engage Learners Can Increase Learning Outcomes

Adult learners gain and retain more when they are an active part of the learning process. To effectively engage and energize your participants, you must build a variety of learner-centered activities into each of your sessions. Such involvement can be the result of individual and/or group activity. In whatever format, involvement can lead to more confident, independent, and self-managed learners.

Learning Strategies That Actively Engage Learners

To really take advantage of the concepts of brain-based learning, it is important to apply experiential learning strategies and get learners actively engaged. The lecture is typically not the answer for effectively sharing information, teaching new skills, and helping adult learners assimilate knowledge. Be careful not to automatically assume the role of “expert” as you step into a training room. Use activities that will draw participants out so that their knowledge, skills, and abilities are also tapped to enhance learning.

With all the creative resources in print, on the Internet, and available through other sources, there is little reason for you to do all the work in stimulating learning. There are literally thousands of ideas and accelerated learning strategies already developed and proven to teach knowledge and skills on virtually any topic. These can be adopted or adapted or you can create your own in order to provide an effective high-energy training environment for learners.

Increase Learning Outcomes by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author

If you want more ideas on ways to actively engage learners and activities that make learning fun and more effective, get copies of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning and 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 www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Brain-Based Learning for Adults Helps Get Results

Brain Based Learning for Adults Helps Get Results

Brain-Based Learning for Adults Helps Get Results

As a trainer, I have been a strong advocate of brain-based learning for adults (sometimes referred to as accelerated learning) for years. I love to watch the reaction of adult learners who walk into my classrooms and encounter a variety of environmental components related to brain-based learning research. For example, colorful balloons on the wall, music playing in the background, colored handouts neatly lined up on their tables, manipulative toys, and other fun session-related novelties or props. As they enter, I greet them with a smile at the door and introduce myself. Their typical reaction is “Am I in the right room for…?”

The wonderful thing about using strategies associated with brain-based learning for adults is that I am able to pique learner interest and get them immediately mentally and physically engaged. This occurs without my having to say anything. I do this by creating a novel environment that pulls participants of their comfort zone since a “normal” adult learning environment does not contain such elements. Later, when I ask their reaction to the environment during my opening remarks, I typically hear things like, “This is going to be fun” or “This is different.” Because of my efforts during session design, learner expectations are raised and they are likely to be more receptive to information that I will provide. Also, some brain-based learning research indicates that by introducing elements, such as, sound, motion, movement, fun, color, and novelty, you can create an environment in which learners potentially better gain, retain, recall and use what they experience.

You can create similar experiences for any adult learner by gaining more knowledge about brain-based learning strategies (neuroscience of learning). You can then create environments where participants have the opportunity to become engaged in their learning while having fun.

Search this blog for other articles on brain-based learning for adults and accelerated learning. Also, to identify hundreds of ways to apply brain-based learning techniques and creative training strategies that you can easily and inexpensively use in your adult learning environments, get copies of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 – Motivation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 - Motivation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 – Motivation to Learn

In this post, you will read about the sixth of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Motivation to Learn.

Adults are motivated to learn by both extrinsic (external) and intrinsic (internal) motivators. Researchers have developed many theories of motivation over the last century to try to explain how to deal with such motivators. For example, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory, and Clayton Alderfer’s Existence Relatedness Growth theory, that you can apply to a learning environment.

By better understanding the premise behind motivation theories, you will better be able to create a learning environment that addresses both the intrinsic and extrinsic needs of your learners. For example, one simple way to reward learner behavior is to use small incentive prizes that relate to your session topic for people who volunteer, arrive, and return from breaks on time and those who accomplish certain tasks. Such rewards address extrinsic learner needs. You might also end the session early or recognize individual performance through applause or appointment to specific leadership roles in order to provide for intrinsic needs.

Even though rewards are often short-term motivators, if you use them in conjunction with other brain-based learning strategies, you can potentially create an environment that is more conducive to learning. Just do not try to rely solely on rewards, props and other “gimmicks” to support a lack of knowledge or poor delivery style on your part. It will not. You still have to excel in your role facilitator and/or subject matter expert (SME).

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 6 – Motivation to Learn by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

The key to selecting appropriate motivational strategies is to realize that what motivates one person does not motivate all. Use a variety of techniques and if you realize that something is not working, switch to an alternate strategy immediately. Also, consider who is in your audience and the topic of your workshop when deciding on what incentives you might use. For example, while smile face toys and funny props would work well for a group of front-line employees in a workshop on customer service, it is not a good idea to use them in a session on handling grief to friends and family of deceased people.

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, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People, and The Creative Training Idea Books: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 – Orientation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 - Orientation to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 – Orientation to Learn

In this post, you will read about the fifth of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Orientation to Learn.

Adults enter a learning experience with a task-, problem-, or life-centered orientation to learning. This is opposed to children, who focus on learning knowledge in order to pass tests and graduate from a curriculum.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 5 – Orientation to Learn by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

Adults focus on gaining new knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) that will allow them to transfer what is learned back to a life-situation immediately and resolve an issue that they have. For example, if someone is working in an environment in which they interact with many customers from the Hispanic community and they do not speak the language, they might attend a Spanish language workshop.

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, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People, and The Creative Training Idea Books: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Robert W. Lucas

Listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the South & Southeast, Bob Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert who specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. He has four decades of experience in customer service, human resources development, and management in a variety of organizational environments. Bob was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Bob 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 www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4 – Readiness to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4 – Readiness to Learn

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4 – Readiness to Learn

In this post, you will read about the fourth of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Readiness to Learn.

Adults become ready to learn in order to perform more effectively and satisfyingly when they experience a need to know or are able to do so.

As an old adage goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When adults feel the pain of not being able to perform well enough in their job or they receive negative performance feedback on the job, they often rush (or are rushed) off to training to “fix” their deficits. Unfortunately, this approach often masks organizational issues that are causing the performance breakdown.

For example, poor supervision or management skills on the part of their boss, policies that inhibit effective job performance, or an environment that does not adequately prepare and support employees. Still, when such learners show up in your session, your task as a trainer or facilitator is to try to enhance their knowledge, skills, and attitude (KSA).

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 4  by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

By focusing on this core adult learning principle, you can tap into your adult learner’s desire to expand their knowledge or skills. To accomplish these things, you might actively engage them in the learning process in order to allow the maximum transfer of knowledge. For example, you may have learners whose organization has shifted to a team environment and in which some employees are having trouble working effectively with others, participate in a workshop on effective interpersonal communication, or on teambuilding to address employee roles, expectations, and skills for building better work relationships.

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, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People, and The Creative Training Idea Books: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

 

 

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 3 – Experience

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 3 - Experience

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 3 – Experience

In this post, you will read about the third of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Experience.

Adults have a greater volume and different quality of life experience than children do. Because of their life experiences, adult learners will bring new ideas, skills, and questions to your adult learning environments. This can be a double-edged sword.

On the positive side, you can tap into  their previous knowledge and experiences to add more meaning and real-world flavor to the content that you provide.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 3 – Experience by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

As a trainer, educator, or facilitator in adult learning events, you can use learners as coaches, experts, leaders, and co-presenters at various points based on their expertise level.

On the negative side, some people may be more challenging or pessimistic about ideas that you present because of their previous learning and knowledge. You can counter the latter by being thoroughly prepared, having a sound understanding of how to deal with different participant behavior, and maintaining a non-defensive posture when questions do arise.

For example, to bring learners together and tap into their expertise, try doing an icebreaker activity at the beginning of the workshop in which learners exchange information and identify what they believe are their strengths and weaknesses related to the topic to be presented. Use this information to pair people in the session so that an exchange of ideas and coaching can occur. This allows more knowledgeable people to feel productive, valued, and important, while those needing information gain a new resource and possibly bond with another learner.

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. To get ideas for dealing with various adult learner behaviors, check out People Strategies for Trainers.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 2 – Self-Concept

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 2 - Self Concept

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 2 – Self-Concept

In this post, you will read about the second of six adult learning principles proposed by Malcolm Knowles in his Adult Learning Theory.

Self-Concept.

Adults have an inclination to be self-directing. Unlike children, adults have many life experiences that they use to make their own decisions. Since they are older, more mature, and have normally developed a sense of ownership and independence, they typically expect that they will have some degree of control over their life situations (e.g. what and how they learn) and will be responsible for decisions they make.

As a trainer, facilitator, or adult educator, you can use this concept to design problem-solving and decision-making activities into your workshops and learning events. This will allow plenty of opportunities for participants to respond to and ask questions and to exchange ideas and identify solutions to issues presented. For example, in a workshop, make sure that there is ample time for learners to work in small groups on topic-related issues.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 2 – Self-Concept by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger

By actively engaging adult learners, you tap into brain-based learning research which indicates that the use of physical and mental activity helps stimulate brain neurons and potentially facilitates learning. You can also add two other brain-based elements (fun and novelty) by using props and a creative means of identifying group leaders. For example, you could form groups then have members of each group identify the person who got up earliest that morning as the leader. Your group leaders are then charged with keeping track of time, controlling group discussion direction, and acting as a spokesperson during an activity debrief at the end.

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.

Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory – Principle 1 – Relevance

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.

Accelerated Learning Techniques Can Lead Adult Learners to Increased Transfer of Training

Accelerated Learning Techniques Can Lead Adult Learners to Increased Transfer of Training

Accelerated Learning Techniques Can Lead Adult Learners to Increased Transfer of Training

No matter what term(s) you apply to accelerated learning (e.g. brain-based learning, active learning, discovery learning, experiential learning, interactive learning, or transformational learning), the ideas and techniques behind the concept are solid.

Accelerated Learning Techniques Can Lead Adult Learners to Increased Transfer of Training by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author

By actively engaging adult learners in the classroom and providing an opportunity for them to become active participants, you set up an environment where their brain neurons are stimulated. Through the use of adult learning techniques, you potentially allow your learner’s brains to more effectively gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience (transfer of training).

If you want to learn more about applying brain-based learning strategies to training and how to incorporate various elements into the learning environment, get a copy of my book, The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

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 www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Engaging Adult Learners with Icebreaker Activities Using Flip Charts

Engaging Adult Learners with Icebreaker Activities Using Flip Charts

Brain based learning research and adult learning theory  (andragogy)point to the value of actively engaging participants in activities throughout a learning event. Doing this early in a session helps them to claim ownership for the learning process, overcome potential hesitance about getting involved, and potentially get to know one another. It also allows you to identify introverts and extroverts and leaders and followers, and to encourage active participation by all learners throughout the session.

Engaging Adult Learners with Icebreaker Activities Using Flip Charts

Here are two easy icebreaker activities involving flip charts that you might use in your next session:

1.    Get participants involved in a self-discovery activity at the start of a session. I do this in a program on behavior styles. I have participants group in threes. I then ask them to write the first names of group members at the top of three columns on a flip chart page. They are given a total of five minutes for each person to think of three characteristics (adjectives) which they think describes their behavior as it relates to the session topic. For example, in a session on supervisory training or leadership, someone might offer goal-oriented, assertive and decisive as their choices. Through such an activity, people become actively involved early in the session, share information, get to know something about others, and begin discussing the program topic. Later in the session, you can conduct an additional activity in which participants explain how the characteristics they identified during the icebreaker might be applied in a given situation related to the program topic

2.   Group participants, then show a flip charted statement related to the program topic. Have participants introduce themselves within their group, then discuss and flip chart their thoughts on the statement they read. For example, in a session on customer service, you might state, “Customers today are very impulsive and in a hurry.” After a specified period of time, go over the group responses as a class. This type of activity provides a vehicle for discussion of a program relevant topic, gains active involvement, and gives people a chance to get to know one another and share how they think.

For additional ideas on creative ways to create, use, transport, and store flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators. For additional creative games and activities to energize your learning events, check out Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.