Four Essential Principles of Adult Learning

Four Essential Principles of Adult Learning

One of the principles of adult learning is relevance. Learning is effective when it is relevant to real life situations. Adult learners should know what they will gain from the learning process. Relevance is the key. Using the principle of spaced repetition, training should emphasize what learners need to know. This is especially true for difficult topics. Relevance also helps people understand what they have to gain from the training. And the third principle is active recall.

Active recall involves learning material in a way that is most relevant to the person who is learning.

Active recall

Adult learners are able to remember what they’ve learnt best if they apply it in some way. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including using quizzes, scenario exercises, and case studies. For best results, use a combination of methods and strategies to make learning fun and effective. Active recall principles apply to any training, including courses that are designed for non-learners. If you’re planning to use this strategy in your next training session, here are four essential strategies:

Use regular and specific feedback to motivate adult learners. Specific feedback is most effective when provided while the learning moment is still fresh in the trainee’s mind. Regular, systematic opportunities for practice and review allow trainees to monitor their own progress. Remember to always provide supportive, yet corrective, feedback in a constructive manner. Positive feedback creates a learning climate where the material is more likely to be retained. And when it is offered in a constructive, non-judgmental tone, adult learners respond better to it.


When teaching students, the relevance of adult learning principles can make a big difference. This theory emphasizes the importance of connecting new information with prior knowledge. By placing new knowledge in the context of everyday practice, adult learners will be more likely to apply what they’re learning. Instructors can also add relevance to lessons by using personal experiences as an example of the subject they’re teaching. It’s important to understand the needs of adult learners and their unique learning styles before you teach them a new skill or technique.

For adults to engage in training, they need to know what they’re learning. This information needs to be relevant and significant to them. To build the relevance factor, state the goal of the training early in the course. Then, emphasize the relevance of the information throughout the training.

The importance of problem-centered learning also explains the relevance factor. Learning experiences that demonstrate the relevance factor are powerful tools in building motivation and engagement. The principles of adult learning are essential to designing effective training.

Spaced repetition

Research has shown that spaced repetition helps people learn faster. Learning a new language, for example, requires students to remember a large number of words. This is due to the “spacing effect” that is based on this principle. The psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus came up with this method as he researched the learning process. In his experiments, he found that his students were able to learn a list of 12 nonsense syllables after just 38 repetitions spaced over three days.

While the spacing effect may not be as strong in adults, it is still a useful strategy. Research with children has shown that people who learn more effectively with spacing have a higher level of generalization. The principle is particularly useful in science education, where learning new information is necessary for a profession. It has also been shown to increase confidence and performance in students. Despite its popularity, spaced repetition has not received much attention in the past.

Relevance to real-life situations

Understanding adult learners’ learning styles and how to effectively convey information to them can help an organization improve its training programs. For instance, adult learners tend to learn differently than children, so training should utilize language they are familiar with. Likewise, it should use case studies and examples that they can relate to. To make learning more engaging, adult learners should be given opportunities to apply the concepts they’ve learned. Regardless of their age, adults can benefit from learning methods that are based on adult learning principles.

Most adults like to learn by doing, and they prefer to see immediate benefits from training programs. That’s why adult learners should try to incorporate real-world examples wherever possible. When training customers, walk them through a workflow they’ll use immediately after they complete the training. For employees, make sure to give real examples so that learners can relate to them. Using examples helps learners absorb information more quickly and avoid common mistakes.