Train The Trainer

The Fundamental Principles of Adult Learning

As professionals in training and education, it is essential that we understand the unique learning requirements of our adult learners to ensure that our training interventions are effective. The process of engaging adult learners in a learning experience is known as Andragogy as opposed to Pedagogy which refers to child learning.

Theoretical concepts of adult learning affect the design and development of our training programmes and facilitate the learning experience which should be embedded in all company courses and training.  More and more businesses are becoming increasingly aware that these adult learning principles need to be taken into account in design and development of Training Courses for end users.

In order for adults to learn effectively, training needs to be designed in a way that meets the requirements of adult learning.  Here are some of the main principles


Adults are autonomous and self-directing, meaning that they live under a large degree of self-governance and to their own laws, beliefs and values.

They need to know the benefits, values and purposes of a learning programme.  They need to know why they are learning what they’re learning.  If they cannot appreciate the purpose or value, they will be reluctant to engage in the learning intervention.

Learn by Doing

Adults learn through direct experience; therefore, their training and learning interventions must include active and practical participation and offer implementable techniques and methodologies that will immediately improve their everyday lives.


The content of a training programme must be meaningful and relevant to the adult learners, their lives and their business.  They have to very clearly see why and how this is important to them personally and how it applies to their life.

The immediate use of the learning needs to be clearly understood by the learner.  If they can’t see how they personally can apply the learning to their own life and roles, motivation towards the training intervention will be significantly reduced.


Adult learners need to be able to draw upon their past experiences to aid their learning.  Training needs to be contextualised to use language that they are familiar with. We need to select case scenarios and examples that they can relate to, as well as refer to their direct past life, work and social experiences to bring the meaning of the learning into their world as they understand it.

All of the Senses

Adult learners need multi-sensory learning and teaching methods.  We must ensure our learning interventions have appropriately proportioned delivery techniques that meet the needs of audio, visual, reading/writing, kinaesthetic, dependent and independent learning preferences.


Adult learners are often engaged in learning because a problem has to be solved.  Practising skills in a controlled environment allows them to become more confident in performing new tasks outside of the learning environment.  The more an adult learner can practise new skills, competencies or the application of knowledge, the more transformational impact the learning intervention will have.

Personal Development

The personal desires and ambitions of an adult learner need to be considered when planning and delivering adult learning programmes.  As learners get older, their cause for participation in learning programmes often moves from external drivers (such as getting a promotion), to internal drivers, like simply learning out of pure pleasure or interest in learning something new.


Effective adult learning programmes have planned for learner feedback and consultation. Adults need to feel as though they have a sense of responsibility, control and decision-making over their learning.  They need to be involved in the planning, evaluation and consultation of their own learning process to be fully on board with its successful execution.

In terms of education, this requires the flexibility of the learning situation, the learning programme and most importantly, the trainer to actively involve the participant in a way that allows them to have a degree of control over what they do or how much they learn.


Our courses cover adult principles, what they mean for the learner and trainer plus overall considerations for preparation of an effective learning programme.


22 Feb 2021

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