January 11, 2007

Adult Learning Principles, Part 3: Knowledge and Experience



Adult learning principle #2:

Adults have a lifetime of knowledge and experience that informs their learning.


Adult learners can be a valuable resource for you as an instructor/speaker. It's also important for them to connect learning to these previous life experiences. Here's how to make the most of your audience's experience and knowledge.

* Don't assume that your participants are "blank slates" and know nothing about your topic. Nothing is more insulting than a speaker who launches into a lecture without first finding out the needs and knowledge level of the audience. Do your research and ask first to find out what they already know.

* When appropriate, ask your audience to share their experiences, and create activities that call on them to use their experiences, for example, in small group discussions.

* Prepare activities that involve choice, so the learning process can better fit the individual levels of your participants.

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