Blog Post

Learning Principles












Adult Learning Principles

Katie Willis

Saint Joseph’s University:  ODL 600






Abstract: Although it would be nice and convenient if everyone learned in the same matter the truth is not everyone does. There are visual learners in contrast hands on learners. The environment that one is put in while learning plays a significant part in how they obtain and absorb the information. In order to care about and absorb the information the learner must have a deep sense of devotion to the material put forth. Having a mentor is important, he or she can pave the way to success. In the ever-changing world; what worked in 1990’s most certainly does not work in 2016. Programing and technology had gone through major overhauls. There is no specific method to teach a person to learn as it is fluid for each person. Some people learn differently as child than they do as an adult.












Not everyone is open to learning; it makes people feel vulnerable and awkward. Although the individual may be a seven-figure corporate lawyer at a professional development meeting furthering their career. The same can be said about a single mom going back to school for a master, it is very simple to feel judged. That is human nature; there are many ways to alleviate that feeling. A good teacher will hone in on those teaching skills, and help his/her students grow. Not all teachers hold teaching degrees and not all students sit behind wooden desks with Ticonderoga pencils in their hands. A teacher is someone who can cultivate all the learning principles together to build a successfully educated adult. An adult who may be behind a computer or giant lecture There are many different learning principles in adulthood; some classic, some changing as technology evolves. Regardless the mark of a true educator is the one who touches the heart of all his or her students.

Fear dictates most of almost everyone’s actions. It shouldn’t be allowed to dictated advancement in employment. Since kindergarten most children have been afraid to be wrong in class. This can easily be on until adulthood. The environment we learn in plays a major factor in how we learn. Learning in a giant lecture hall or behind a computer you can easily become a number. In a smaller more personal venue there is a higher likelihood of getting to know each other better.  Speaking from personal experience I recently attended a Professional Development Class, that I was prepared for; apart from one class. Had I known the material that was going to be discussed I would have been prepared. Regardless, having been unsure of myself and my skill I quivered quietly away in the corner where no one could see me and my insecurities. By that point in the classes, I had become familiar with all fifteen classmates and their skills and knowledge and didn’t want to seem under qualified to them. “Sometimes failure is necessary before people or business change.” (Davidson 213) Perhaps had I been more confident in my work, even if my calculations were incorrect, someone else might have learned more.  Unfortunately, no matter how many opportunities are put forth, I think that people are always going to be afraid to ask questions and look “dumb.”

It is common to use “ice-breaker” activities; these activities are designed to take people outside of their comfort zone. To test what they already know about themselves and their coworkers. An ice-breaker also functions to force people to get to know one another if they have never met. From personal experience: choosing a number from 1-100 and answering the question associated with that number. This is not one of the classic learning principles; rather and emerging one. For an emerging one it is widely accepted. By playing mindless games, “students” gain so much knowledge beyond the given material. They learn about themselves and their coworkers. This is the type of knowledge that doesn’t last a day is truly embodies the definition of development. Then coworkers begin to know each other better they can work together better.

When there is harmony in the work place, it opens the doors for success. It is the reasons and causes of previous success and failures that help lead to development of new technology. Ice-breakers might seem like meaningless activities; but they are truly an indispensable part of learning.

Gaining the groups attention and acceptance in the beginning of the lesson isn’t the only point that is important. Keeping the group engaged throughout the educational course is also important. What is being put forth should be fun, and active. When people are told, they must attend an all day long class on “building empathy” they may not seem interested. If the presenter puts some time and effort into making it interesting and not make it a boring power point sending everyone to sleep they will receive a more positive response. There must be some interactive way to keep the learning fun and appealing to the class. It is also very 1999, even if it has some clip art. Adding even meme’s or gifs could improve a board meeting but role playing is a better way to keep everyone engaged and involved.

While many of my examples have been of being at a class given through work. Some people choose to take classes at the library. Some of these classes are classes such as yoga, and art classes. For obvious reasons these classes are much smaller than a grand lecture at a super sized university. These library classes are much more intimate. While it may cause some of the participants to be awkward even if it is their passion,  it is important that those teachers don’t just tell the student’s this is how to do the downward dog. It is imperative that all the members of the yoga class are actively involved in the yoga moves. The active, engagement in the work eventually make the material stick. The “student” will remember it better.

The first thing many people do when attending a seminar of some sort is look at the agenda; see when lunch is. All those little breaks are more important than many realize. While most people enjoy eating and the chance to check Facebook or their email, it is also a great networking and observation time. When you are educating a group that already knows one another, after lunch or a short recess it brings the attention back to the meeting. Although no one intestinally holds a boring drawn out meeting, when it is meeting without a break that is a rough environment. Eight hours of straight information being drilled into your head is a lot to absorb while at the same time, can be a lot to tune out.

Several months ago I had to attend two meetings in one day. One for my “Key carrier” position and one for my “front end coordinator” position. The meetings were almost the same. Despite having a lunch; with people I have never met about halfway through the second meeting my notes, became doodles. Even with that lunch people aren’t programed to get drilled with that much information for that extended of a time frame.

When hired to a new company, or appointed to a new position it can be scary. There are a lot of lessons that need to be learned and a lot of skills that need to be taught. It is the hope of a new hire that someone will take them “under their wing” and work closely with them. This isn’t always the case as many people know. However, when this is done it needs to be done in a delicate way. There needs to be mutual respect for each other’s actual position, along with the understanding of chain of command if necessary. Learning can be challenging at any age. Learning in the digital age can be down right terrifying too. In a world where much of human work can be replaced by computers, people are afraid to make mistakes and need to gain mentors. Often their mentors are offsite and need to utilize the digital age to see their mentors. Having the ability to skype or “Facetime” with a mentor offsite is pivotal to growth. I’ve personally “facetime’d with my mentor when no one else could assist me because I knew she would help me.

By adulthood, sometimes people give up on learning. If it matters to them they will listen. Life becomes need to know. Unless the knowledge will directly involve them why do they need to learn it? According to Holyoke “Learning has to be applicable to their vocation or other responsibilities to be of significance to them” while it is understandable, especially when people get to a certain age. There are some flaws in this thinking. Nothing is stagnated, everything in life evolves what is current today will evolve tomorrow. I’ve tried many times to teach my mother how to use my Ipad, to no avail because she doesn’t know how to use a computer. Although I can just as easily teach her how to use my computer soon enough they will become obsolete. Having people who need to know information who thrive learning is important to the learning process. They are the people who empower others to succeed. Without people who want to learn further development of technology and research will cease.

There are many principles that dictate adult learning. The need to want to learn, the flexibility in learning, having a mentor, and engagement are the most important. When these are not there learning will not occur. With the technological evolution, many things are changing such as human engagement in learning. It is a new world out there in so many ways; without being open to altering methods of presenting and teaching based on technology there is no room for progress. 















Davidson, Cathy. Dow you see it. Penguin books 2011.
Forman, D. C. (2003). Eleven Common-Sense Learning Principles. T+D, 57(9), 39-42,44-46.

Holyoke, L. B. (2007). Lessons in Conference Planning: Adult Learning Principles at Work. Journal Of Adult Education, 36(2), 40-43


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