8 Adult Learning Principles to Use in Your Training


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Learning and development in the professional setting require training as well. To ensure the information from training programs is retained by the employees, organizations must create training programs that utilize adult learning principles. Adults are different learners than children. If organizations implement the adult learning principles, they will create a more professional, more knowledgeable workforce, leading to a High Performance Learning Culture.

In this blog, we will be talking about the eight adult learning principles and their theories. When applied, these principles have the power of enhancing training programs. These theories form a small part of the extensive research base for ID9 Intelligent Design, the Learning Design System that operationalizes corporate training.

Adult Learning Principles

Organizations that wish to create a more effective and informative training program, which can be retained easily by their employees, must incorporate the following eight principles in it:

1.        Adults have a higher sense of self-direction and motivation

Unlike young learners, adult learners are old enough to have self-direction. Adults, especially in organizations, are always ready to learn because they are willing to gain new knowledge and its benefits. They do not need to be told to learn.

Even though adults are generally more motivated than young learners, it does not mean they will be willing to learn anything. They always look for the benefits, value, and purpose of what they are learning. Therefore, to maintain the learner’s motivation, training programs should state the benefits of the particular program.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

By applying this theory, your employees can develop their learning journey. They will be able to identify their own needs when it comes to learning, develop a plan to achieve their goals, find necessary resources, and keep track of their own progress.

It is best achieved through online learning, where the employees have the flexibility to learn by themselves.

2.        Adults learn by doing

Because adults are more experienced than young learners, they tend to rely on their experiences when they are learning. Training programs that recognize this main principle can be very beneficial for adults.

For adults, training programs that include real-world examples, relatable scenarios, and direct experience are more meaningful and retainable. However, the cons of this are that the knowledge that learners draw from these sessions might be outdated, incorrect, or biased. Therefore, learners must be mindful of this and come up with new solutions and conclusions.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

Using the Social Learning Theory, learners can incorporate their own ideas and experiences to retain the concepts better. If your organization uses an online learning platform, a more personalized training program can be delivered using AI algorithms.

3.        Adults want to achieve goals

Like we have mentioned before, achieving goals is essential for adults. They are more interested in training programs that can help them achieve their goals, professionally or personally.

Designers of the learning programs must consider and create training programs to provide the learner with the relevant information that will help them achieve their goals. Likewise, the learners need to be clear on what goals they wish to achieve and whether they are achievable or not.

A training program that helps the learners achieve goals will eventually garner better results.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

Many organizations are using gamification in online training that encourages project-based learning. It motivates the learners to engage with leaderboards, weekly goals, and more challenges set for them.

4.        Adults want relevant information

The information provided by training programs must be relevant for the learner to stay engaged. It should highlight all the short-term relevancy and long-term benefits the learners will achieve by engaging in the learning program.

Even though adults primarily engage with learning programs that highlight clear relevance for them, many learners are willing to take the program just for the joy of learning something new.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

Organizations can incorporate the principles of Andragogy, where a learning environment that provides learners with relevant information to grow in their learning path is incorporated into the training program. They can use some tools such as courses, videos, and apps during the sessions.

5.        Adults are practical

Training programs should provide knowledge that learners can apply immediately. Adults are fast learners and use the learned ability in their roles. Organizations should incorporate real-world scenarios and problem-solving drills in the program so learners can gain information based on their own experience and knowledge.

Learners learn best when they can do so at their own pace. This way, they can retain information more thoroughly.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

Organizations can implement Experiential Learning, which uses hands-on learning and experiences to provide knowledge to the participants. Many organizations use role-playing games, which allow learners to learn how to make decisions in real-life scenarios.

6.        Adults want help and mentorship

Adults tend to seek help from experienced role models to help them achieve their goals through training programs. Organizations can include mentorships in their training programs that can create a relationship between mentors and mentees.

Adults learn by looking at other compatriots and how they access knowledge. This way, they know how to avoid mistakes and which steps they should take.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

Organizations can create a mentoring program where younger or inexperienced workers are paired with experienced ones. This way, they can connect, and the skilled worker can impart the knowledge they have learned over the years to the learner.

7.        Adults look for modern ways of learning

Many adults who work in organizations understand they can learn in different ways. When developing a training program, organizations can provide learning through online courses, blogs, YouTube videos, webinars, apps, and online conferences. These ways prove to be highly engaging for adult learners.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

Organizations can use the theory of Constructivism, which states that learners create their own meaning when learning. They link old information to new information and then contextualize it.

With this theory, organizations can offer different ways employees can learn. They can acquire knowledge the way they find desirable and productively contextualize it.

8.        Adults want to choose how they learn

Training programs that allow adults to control how and when they learn prove more engaging as adults prefer self-directed learning.

Adults will put more effort into learning when they are granted flexibility. They will be active learners and will be more motivated to achieve their goals. If the training program allows the learners to be involved from the planning stages to the evaluation and feedback, they will be more willing to take on the training program.

How can organizations incorporate this in their training?

Action Learning Theory allows learners to control their learning process. Adults will be able to retain knowledge through the process of asking questions, reflection, and action.


Adult learning principles are a vital part of every organization’s training program. Are you looking to improve your organization’s training program? ID Intelligent Design is a Learning Design System that can improve your company’s training programs and create more meaningful experiences for the learners.

To find out more about ID9 Intelligent Design, visit our website now and create an efficient training program for your learners!