Facing the Challenge of Motivating Adult Learners? Here’s Four Ways to Overcome it.

As kids, the priority for many of us was getting to school, doing our homework and passing exams. There was little else that we felt responsible for, other than keeping our grades up and getting into a good university or college. But as we hit adulthood, education and learning slowly begin to go further down the ‘top priority’ list, with housing, jobs, children, and utilities taking the top spots.

The pressure of responsibilities keeps mounting as we get older, and education and learning move completely out of the picture for many. That is until we receive an email from the HR team regarding mandatory participation in a learning and development (L&D) program.

The Lack of Enthusiasm for Corporate Adult Learning

It is not surprising that an employee would look at this with far less enthusiasm than you would hope for. More often than not, they feel that the L&D program has been forced on them, and that they simply don’t have time for it. This brings us to one of the greatest challenges faced by corporate L&D teams, the challenge of motivating adult learners.

There is no doubt that corporate e-learning solutions have helped the situation to a great extent. The anytime, anywhere concept of online learning eases the burden considerably, as learners are not trapped in a classroom for hours on end, thinking of everything else they could be doing with their time! However, keeping adult learners motivated and engaged is still a very real challenge that most employers have to face on a daily basis.

The Theory of Adult Learning

In 1968, Malcolm Knowles proposed the Adult Learning Theory, also known as Andragogy, which highlighted the unique learning styles and strengths of adult learners. Based on his assumptions, Knowles discussed four principles of Andragogy that should be considered when dealing with adult learners. These principles still have value today, and can be used to help increase engagement and participation in learning programs.

Four Things You Can Do to Help Motivate Adult Learners

Let Them Be Involved — Adults want to be in control. They want to have a say in what they learn and how they learn it. As much as you would be in control of setting the learning objectives and creating the course content of your L&D program, give your learners an element of control in the process. Let them set the pace of their learning and let them decide which modules they want to prioritize. They will be more engaged when they feel they have some level of involvement in the learning process.

Use Their Experience — Adults have plenty of experience which they can draw from, and they want that experience to be acknowledged. The learning programs you develop for them should focus on adding to what they have already learned in the past.

Make it Relevant — Adults need to feel that the time they devote to participate in learning programs is meaningful. The learning content you develop should focus on issues that are relevant to their work or even their personal lives. Clearly state the objectives of your learning program and outline the benefits of completing the module. Knowing what they can achieve at the end of the program will keep them motivated to get there.

Let Them Solve Problems — Adults respond better to problem-centered learning rather than content-centered learning. They will be more engaged if they are required to solve problems instead of memorizing content.

If you are looking for a comprehensive learning management system that can help you keep adult learners motivated, get in touch with us at Layup to learn how we can help. You can visit us at www.getlayup.com or email us at contact@getlayup.com.

Layup makes learning fun. Layup uses a social media approach, fused with game dynamics, to create a learning platform that employees love.

Layup makes learning fun. Layup uses a social media approach, fused with game dynamics, to create a learning platform that employees love.