Characteristics of Adult Learners
Because the adult learner is primarily in charge of their own learning, the teacher of adults has a different audience than the one who teaches children. Malcolm S. Knowles (1973), a pioneer in adult learning, noted the following characteristics of adult learners:
- Need to know why they are learning something
- Learn by doing
- Are problem solvers
- Learn best when the subject is of immediate use
- Prefer social interaction
- Want to use their life experiences in the classroom
- Want to integrate new ideas with existing knowledge
Tips for Teaching Adults
- Use a variety of teaching and learning methods, including discussion, hands-on learning, case studies, simulations, demonstrations, guest speakers (be creative).
- Encourage active participation in discussions, use breakout groups for more personal interaction.
- Use a variety of resources, such as publications, videos, webinars, photos.
- Make the learning relevant to what the learners will be doing when they leave the classroom.
- Spend less time lecturing and let learners work on solving problems.
- Plan some activities where adult learners can direct their own learning.
- Provide a supportive learning environment with multiple resources, breaks, and opportunities to ask questions and correct mistakes.
A Short Video on Teaching Adult Learners