Posted in writing

Training Adult Learners ~ 2013-1125


Adults learners go through 3 stages of concerns over their training:

  1. Personal: They want to know “’what’s in it for me?’
  2. Management: How do I make this work; how do I implement it?
  3. Impact: How will learning this impact me, my company?

Adult learners need:

  1. To feel safe; physically and emotionally
  2. Be autonomous; adults like to be independent – allow them to work alone, in pairs, in teams, in groups
  3. To enjoy success; periodic moments of success to improve newly-learned skills and to know that they are becoming more knowledgeable
  4. Feel valued and cared for through team building, class building, etc.
  5. Enjoy themselves through humor, stories, energizers, etc.

Three types of adults learners include:

  1. Explorers love being in the training and want to learn as much as they can from the training
  2. Vacationers want to have as much fun and free time as possible
  3. Prisoners resent being in the training and imagine themselves breaking free

Difficult learners include

  1. Latecomers – put exit and entrance in the back; start on time; give prizes and praise to on-timers; set ground rules; start hot topics after breaks
  2. Preoccupied – clear table of all personal belongings; make a to do list and set it aside for later; use proximity to encourage eye contact and engagement; have a private discussion with the participant
  3. Introverts – use class building, team building; assign jobs and tasks
  4. Domineering – write questions on think pads; use a delay board; select who starts; set ground rules; select teams; use proximity, talking sticks,  timed turns; have a private discussion, when they pause, praise them and ask for another opinion
  5. Prisoner – list reasons they shouldn’t be there; list the benefits of WIIFM; allow them to leave, use negative examples about yourself to illuminate their behavior; empathize and move on
  6. Prove it – assign them to do the research; read articles, tell analogies, give references, state facts, show figures, ask the class ‘what are 5 reasons why’; project quotes
  7. Know it all – conduct a pre-test; acknowledge expertise; ask them to share successes; share their ideas; use timed turns instead of team discussion; stick to your experience and evidence
  8. Can’t afford (to spend time in training) – explain how lucky they are; tell why training is required and critical; use parking lot so trainer can answer questions at break
  9. Yes but – give examples from their job or in their content; use concrete examples, give testimonials, show data, tell your successes; ask why? why not?

CITE: Kagan, L. (2007). Dynamic Trainer! San Clemente. CA. Kagan Publishing Company



Dr. Sheila Embry is a govie, author, pracademician, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend who loves to read, write, think, and laugh. Many of her blog postings are summaries or excerpts of books that she read and wants to share to encourage others. An author with more than 25 years experience within the legislative and executive branches of the U. S. federal government holding 3 accredited degrees: Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Master of Arts in Human Resources Development, and Baccalaureate of Business Administration, she believes in continuing learning both on and off the job. She has been recognized with multiple professional and writing awards for her peer-reviewed, publications. Click the bibliography page above for a listing of all the publications.

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