Adult learning involves different principles than child learning. Understanding adult learning concepts can allow you to focus on how you learn best and can, most importantly, help you succeed in your career. If your current or future role involves public speaking, presenting, educating or training peers at your organization, recognizing how adults learn in the workplace can equip you to educate fellow co-workers or even customers more effectively.

Being aware of the concept of adult learning can help you ensure any work materials you develop are relevant, engaging and retainable while expanding your emotional intelligence.

Overview of Andragogy
Andragogy refers to adult learning principles and recognizes the distinct ways adults prefer and are able to learn most effectively.

Andragogy is the science and practice of self-directed adult learning.

Andragogy is built on these five assumptions:

  1. Experience—Adults need to build on their experience.
  2. Self-concept—Adults need to feel responsible for their learning.
  3. Readiness—Adults are ready to learn if the training solves an immediate problem.
  4. Problem orientation—Adults want their training and learning to be problem-focused.
  5. Motivation—Adults learn best when motivation comes intrinsically.

Adult Learning Vs. Child Learning
Tailoring training and education specifically for your audience is essential regardless of the type of workplace learning and development initiative. Successful adult education is often future-centric and involves purpose-driven applications. In contrast, children generally learn by moving on to the next stage, and their motivation comes from external sources, such as parents, teachers or a sense of competition.

Ask your employer how you can incorporate adult learning strategies into the workplace or focus on integrating these principles into any content or training you are responsible for.

Although everyone is different, knowing these general adult learning principles can enhance your own learning and allow you to better understand how you communicate with others. Consider how you can apply the concept of adult learning to your day-to-day work routine.