Tips 7 & 8 – Engaging Adult Learners

7.  Offer Affirmation.  Provide positive reinforcement whenever possible.  Don’t be condescending.  Recognize that some adult learners bring fear to the training.  By sharing affirmation, the trainer encourages learning. 

Fear is a powerful, deep-seated emotion that can stop learning cold. It is likely that in any training class there will be individuals who experienced situations in school or elsewhere that created negative feelings.  The strongest of these emotions is the feeling of shame.  Not learning something as quickly as others, making silly mistakes, or making an assumption that proves false are all common situation for most everyone. However, when teachers, parents, siblings, playmates or anyone who has authority points out your error and does it in a negative or degrading manner, the emotion of shame can result.  Shame and the allied negative feelings are very real and will make individuals fearful to share and even try new behaviors.  By creating an affirming and positive learning environment you help reduce these old fears and make it possible for everyone to try and take chances.

8.  Evaluate, Adjust and Move Forward!  By following these tips you will create an environment for learning that respects each individual, allows for better team work, and moves the organization forward.  Be sure to thank the participants and ask if they have any input that would make the class better for the next group. Some type of feedback form is helpful.  If you see several comments about a part of the training take note.  If there was a test, were there a number of individuals who had trouble with the same question?  Consider the content and delivery of the training, and the wording of the test question.  Adjustments may need to be made.

Good trainers are good teachers, and by nature are always learning themselves.  Finding good methods for teaching that enhance learning is important, so getting feedback from the employees helps you learn what worked well and what can be improved.

Lastly, there needs to be follow-up after the training.  An assessment should be conducted a month or two later to see if the goals set by the workers and the course learning objectives are being achieved.  Assessment of the training is a key element of ANSI Z490.1.  Based on the findings it is important to make adjustments to content and teaching methods where necessary.