How to Motivate Adult Learners: 3 Crucial Techniques

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Adult learners vary from child learners in how they are motivated. They have life experience from which to judge any information presented to them. They are more likely to be self-motivated with a need to know why they are learning what they are, and a desire to apply new understandings immediately.

Motivate adult learners

This can be quite a stretch for an educator who is accustomed to instructing a younger crowd. If you find yourself in a classroom filled with students who just aren’t engaged, you may need to try something new.

These three motivational techniques should get the learning wheels turning so the andragogy can begin.

Involve the Learner in the Instruction Process

In order to appeal to a fully grown human with substantial life experience worth contributing to your teachings, he or she should be included in the learning process. When you are planning lessons, always try to allow student input. When the projects come to completion, give students an opportunity to submit feedback. Being a part of their own learning process is important for adults. So, wherever you possibly can, be sure to make it happen.

Create an Environment Wherein the Student Can Solve an Immediate Problem

Since grown-ups like to see immediate use for the information they’re learning, lessons that solve a problem at the current time or in the near future can increase engagement. In this way, learners can begin applying new understandings in a timely manner that keeps them feeling driven. You can facilitate real life problem-solving skills by taking the following steps:

1. Expose students to various organized problem-solving methods.
2. Nurture a regard for why organized methods should be used to overcome certain obstacles.
3. Research and provide adult learners with data and statistics that support your efforts.
4. Allow learners to come up with a problem, either real or hypothetical.
5. Ask learners to solve their problem using one of the methods you introduced them to.

Once the lesson is over and you have evaluated the students’ projects, you can ask them for their feedback on the overall lesson, making room for future growth while keeping everyone engaged.

Maximize Autonomy

In every lesson that you conduct, allow the student to take on as much of the decision-making process as possible. Adults want and need freedom to choose in order to stay motivated. In a talk by Dan Pink about a study done at MIT, he elaborates on the fact that having the freedom to make decisions is significantly more motivating than other incentives offered, including monetary rewards. He says that rather than incentivize work, we should say, “You probably want to do something interesting, let me just get out of your way.” The full talk is illustrated in the video below:

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, RSA Animate:

Blended learning tools and eLearning systems can make it easier to give students autonomy (and also track their success).

Conclusion

Adult learners’ self-motivation and need to know why can be met with open arms by involving them in the education process. Their desire to apply understandings right away is easily aided with problem-solving lessons. A general lack of inspiration can be solved by a healthy dose of autonomy.

What other tactics do you implement to motivate your students?

Header by Rachel Wille

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Megan Hicks

Megan Hicks is a former educator with vast online and offline experience. She now works at http://writethisessay.net/ writing service.

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Adult learners vary from child learners in how they are motivated. They have life experience from which to judge any information presented to them. They are more likely to be self-motivated with a need to know why they are learning what they are, and a desire to apply new understandings immediately.

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