8 Tips for Engaging Adult Learners – 1 & 2


Educating and training adults can be challenging and is very different than teaching children.  The biggest difference is that adults bring experience and bias with them.  Children are more easily directed by authority figures and will follow the teacher.  Authority makes little difference with adults. If the training is not accurate, current and relevant adults turn off.  Here are eight training tips for actions you can take to make sure your safety training is a success. 

1.  Know the Topic and How it Relates to the Work Environment.  Though it may seem obvious, this is where many trainers fail before they even get started. In order to deliver accurate, current and relevant information the trainer needs to know the topic well and how it pertains to those being trained.  Take the time to observe the employees as they work.  Note the specific tasks that relate directly to the topic of the upcoming training.  Are they using correct safe work practices?  Are there obvious deviations? 

Talk with the employees about their work and ask questions that will help to assess their current level of knowledge.   Look for examples of safe and unsafe behaviors or situations so you can incorporate them into the class discussion. (Note: Be sure you take action to correct any unsafe situations or behaviors immediately)  The fact that you have taken the time to observe the work and talk with individual workers goes a long ways toward establishing your credibility.

2.  Align With Other Training and Consider Any Sequential Leaning That May Be Required.  This would seem obvious, but successful training requires an understanding of the current knowledge level of each individual.  Has other training been provided? Did it cover information that needs to be learned before your teach new information?  Has it covered similar procedures that may overlap? 

If we were training high school or college students the sequence of learning would be well established and the pre-requisites would be spelled out.  With established curriculum used in schools, the concept of sequential learning is fundamental and assures that each lesson builds on the last.  When it comes to workplace safety training, without verification it is a mistake to expect a certain level of understanding.  Many factors can stand in the way, such as individual experience, cultural differences, language barriers and incomplete learning of previous training content.  Don’t take a chance of missing the mark.  A simple pre-test or pre-training evaluation will tell you assess how much the workers already know about the subject and allow for modifications that will help you achieve your objectives.