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Characteristics of Adult Learners

Characteristics of Adult Learners

Last updated by Sophie Wright

Characteristics of Adult Learners

Learner Centred Methodologies
Written by Rhonda Wynne, Ireland

Adults learn best in a democratic, participatory and collaborative environment. Adults need to be actively involved in determining how and what they will learn, and they need active, not passive, learning experiences.

Adult students are mature people and prefer to be treated as such. Being 'lectured at' causes resentment and frustration.

Adults are goal oriented / relevancy oriented. Adults need to know why they are learning something... Adults tend to be more interested in theory when it is linked to practical application.

Adults are autonomous and self-directed. They are self-reliant learners and prefer to work at their own pace. Individuals learn best when they are ready to learn and when they have identified their own learning needs.

Adults are practical and problem-solvers. Adults are more impatient in the pursuit of learning objectives. They are less tolerant of work that does not have immediate and direct application to their objectives. Problem based learning exercises are welcomed as they build on prior experience and provide opportunity for practical application of materials/theories covered.

Rhonda Wynne

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