January 10, 2007

Adult Learning Principles, Part 2: Autonomy



And now for our first adult learning principle:

Adults are autonomous and self-directed

Adults want to decide for themselves what, when, how and why to learn. Speakers/instructors should allow adults to direct some of their own learning. Here are some ways to facilitate this:

* Ask your participants what they already know about your topic and what they're interested in learning. Find out what their goals are for being there.

* Share your agenda and ask for input. This might lead to switching around the order of your workshop to better serve the group's needs. You might find you spend more time on certain subjects than you had planned, and less on others. Be flexible.

* Act as a facilitator, guiding the group and encouraging them to reach their own conclusions, rather than force-feeding information in a lecture format. Allow them to be responsible for their own learning.

* Do your research on the group and organizational needs beforehand, so you can provide a combination of information that meets their perceived needs and their actual needs.

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