January 14, 2007

Adult Learning Principles, Part 5: Motivations & Barriers



Adult learning principle #4:

Adults are motivated to learn by both external and internal factors

When we were kids, many of us were not motivated to learn by anything other than our parents' and teachers' rewards and punishments.

As adults, we have many reasons for pursuing learning:

* it's a requirement of a job
* we want to make new friends and connections
* for professional development and to advance our careers
* to relieve boredom
* because we're interested in a particular topic and want to learn for fun
* to create a better environment for our children and families

. . . and the list goes on.

As an instructor/speaker, it's important to understand the many reasons why your attendees are in your seminar. They may not be there by choice, for example. Ask them why they've come and what they hope to gain from the experience.

As it is important to understand what motivates your participants to learn, it's also important to understand what might be barriers to their learning:

* worry about finances
* time constraints
* childcare issues
* relationship issues (one partner feels threatened by advancement of the other)
* lack of confidence in ability to learn (some people grew to believe they were not good in school, and they carry that with them forever)
* insecurity about intelligence
* concern about practicality and relevance

. . . and the list goes on!

Understanding the motivations and barriers your participants face can help you as an instructor pinpoint how best to serve them, by increasing their motivation for learning.

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