What strategies do you use to motivate adult learners? Motivation is the force that drives people to fulfill a need, and with the introduction of learning technology it increased the importance of adult learning. The most effective means of keeping adult learners engaged is to make the coursework relevant to them, creating a motivation that lies on the information that they need of which only the individual can obtain.

Adult learners are fundamentally different than their younger counterparts in many ways, adults, unlike children, teenagers and students have a lot of things on their minds and taking an eLearning course is the last one of them. Adult learners don’t see the rewards of their efforts as soon as they would expect, the academic habits, they once possessed are also long forgotten and a lot of the learners are often forced to take on eLearning course to enhance their skills, keep their job, get a job, or continue further with their career plans, but if you can tap into a learner’s fundamental drive, then you will get the result, adult learners can be encouraged by creating useful environment and relevant learning experiences where student can solve an immediate problem because adult learners appreciate immediate information and nurture a regard for why organized methods should be used to overcome certain obstacles.  By providing resources, references, videos and podcasts create an ideal environment for personal exploration and experience.

Even though children are famous for their exploratory nature and curiosity, adult learners take the opportunity to construct knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them and having materials, references, infographics, short videos, lectures, podcasts and free resources available and learners are more likely to get inspired or find something that makes them want to learn more. In order to appeal to a fully grown human with substantial life experience worth contributing to your teachings, involve the learner in the instruction process; give the students an opportunity to submit feedback because being part of their learning process is important for adults.

Research and provide adult learners with data and statistics that support efforts, allow learners to come up with a problem, either real or hypothetical and once it is over you evaluated the students’ projects, you can ask them for their feedback on the overall lesson, making room for future growth while keeping everyone engaged. They can take on as much of the decision-making process as possible – adults want and need freedom to choose in order to stay motivated; having the freedom to make decisions is significantly more motivating than other incentives offered, including monetary rewards.

Also students in their 50s and 60s are generally not nearly as tech savvy or tech dependent, as some would argue as 18 or even 30 year olds. Their level of proficiency needs to be assessed as it relates to class requirements and compensate. Spend hours teaching a group of displaced workers for instance, many of whom had never used a computer, the finer points of Microsoft Word. You would accomplish something important to help them on their educational journey. Even if they are skilled with technology, adult learners tend to have dramatically different habits. While younger students may be trusted to technology, adults have longer attention spans and traditional classroom approaches appeal to them and you can expect the older learner to concentrate on complex material without feeling ‘withdrawal’ from a technology device.


Article by Blessing Bassey

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