Six Tips on How to Motivate Adult Learners

Designing Digitally


Adult Learning and Training

Adult learners often come with prior knowledge and rigid ideas of what is useful to them. They are multi-taskers who juggle family, friends, work, and personal time. Since they are so hard-pressed for time, they do not like to waste their time on tasks that add no value. If they spend time going through a course, they expect it to help them achieve their goals.

Motivating adult learners to take a course may be more challenging than you think. You should be aware of what makes them tick, which is not an easy task. Here are six tips that may help you design courses in a way that motivates the learners.

#1: Make it relevant for the learners.

Adult learners are busy and stressed. If they allot a chunk of their time to take a course, then they expect to obtain knowledge and skills that they can apply at work or otherwise. They will not take a course just for fun. So, make sure that your course offers them what they are looking for. Start each module with a specific learning objective and at the end reinforce the learning. Make sure that there is no hindrance for the learners to reach their goal.

#2: Capitalize on existing knowledge.

Most adult learners have substantial job experience unless they are fresh out of college and waiting to join the workforce. At times, experienced adults change their job role and need to start learning from scratch. Whatever the situation is, you need to account for the existing knowledge of the learners and build on that. Your learning module should have an assessment to determine where exactly the learner stands in terms of knowledge related to the module. This way, you can avoid boring your learners by allowing them to bypass information that they already have a firm grasp of.

#3: Focus on short, achievable goals.

Break down a long term-goal into short ones that seem easy to achieve. If you present a huge goal to the learners, it may overwhelm them. But, if you present smaller milestones that are manageable, then the learners will at least give it a shot. Assign a reasonable timeline to each goal. When the learners accomplish one goal, they are motivated to strive for the next one. They gain confidence to move ahead till they reach the final milestone.

#4: Provide instant feedback.

Feedback is essential to keep the adult learners motivated. And, it should be immediate and relevant. Your learners need to understand the content of one module before they move to the next one. You may consider building an assessment around each module. Only when they pass that, they can move ahead. If they fail the assessment, then ask them to review the learning material. It may not be possible to have a human advisor to answer learner queries or offer guidance. But, if you are able to build in human interaction, this creates a boost in the learner’s confidence. When learners start trusting the online instructor, then they are more invested in the course.

#5: Allow them to explore the course.

Adult learners do not like to click through based on the instructions. Of course, a distinct navigation path is required in the course. But, it is not a good idea to restrict learner movement based on navigation. Adult learners like to take control of what they learn and how. They like exploring the learning. You just have to ensure that the learning is engaging enough to keep them hooked. There are several ways to create an environment where learners can explore. If the content allows, you may want to consider gamifying the course with rewards, challenges, and goals. Present them with a problem and encourage them to solve it based on the content presented. Also, do not freeze navigation. Let your learners choose which topics they want to learn and in what sequence.

#6: Work with their intrinsic motivation.

It may not be easy to tap into an individual’s intrinsic motivation. But, if you can do that then your learners will see the value in what they are learning. They will realize how the course can help them excel at work and life. It is important to show them why the learning is important for them. Will it get them a better job? Will it improve their standard? Will it teach them a life skill?

If you can do that, then the battle is won.

Designing Digitally, Inc. specializes in creating innovative online training developments that keep learners motivated. We convert common web-based training components to relatable scenarios and successful learning experiences.

Get in touch with our experts today to learn more about custom training solutions and how you can increase the motivation in your company’s learners!