What Are the 7 Laws of Adult Learning?


Organizations should unite to take a different approach when teaching the adults. They need to understand the learning strategies, which are appropriate for these adult learners. Malcolm S. Knowles is known for adopting the theory of “Andragogy” (“andra” meaning “man or adult”). According to Knowles, teaching an adult is different from teaching a child since the maturity levels between the two age groups differ largely.

Anyways, coming back to the laws of adult learning, let us discuss them one by one.

Law of Previous Experience

Adults are generally experienced, possessing a high degree of knowledge about the real world. Hence, training programs should be framed in such a way that incorporates new learning with links to the learner’s experiences.

Law of Relevance

Organizers should design courses in terms of its relevance with the trainee’s life and work. You can include multimedia elements and role-plays to increase connections between the learning situation and real world.

Law of Self-direction

Adults are generally self-directed. Hence, instructors should try to engage the attendees with the training process rather than just lecturing on the topic of discussion. Moreover, mature students prefer to get involved with the training or learning situation rather than just sit back listening to idle lectures.

Law of Expectations

Adults have many expectations from a meeting, conference or a training program. They will not attend events that have no elements of satisfying their needs. Similarly, they will participate in a specific class or event with the mission to fulfill their demands and business objectives. As a trainer, you should plan and execute a program leading to maximum attendee satisfaction and ROI.

Law of Active Learning

Adults love active learning. Therefore, you can include audio-visual and multimedia elements to make the learning process highly interesting than just organizing mere reading or passive listening to lectures. Many organizations that host onsite as well as online educational classes or corporate training programs include text chats, online forums, etc. to discuss and share website links, videos, and images with the learners.

Law of Practice and Feedback

Adult students like to do homework and repeatedly practice things they have recently learned. They also wish to get relevant feedback and participate in polls or Q&A sessions to gain in-depth knowledge about new concepts discussed in during lessons.

Law of Individual Differences

Each individual has his own learning style. Keeping this in mind, instructors should prepare the learning sessions accordingly to satisfy the needs of all participants. An overall, general learning strategy may not be successful when teaching a class full of heterogeneous people.

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