Adult Learners Have Needs that derive from the way we learn. We learn by taking risks and sharing experiences. Adults value training that is:
Dynamic - Speakers know their material and have an interesting and entertaining way of sharing it which is respectful of the learners' experiences, opinions and misgivings.
Anecdotal - Facilitators bring their experiences and stories to illustrate theories, models and constructs in a way that makes sense and is memorable.
Relevant - Exercises and simulations are custom-designed and grounded in the kinds of situations that learners can see themselves using right away.
Experiential - You can tell an adult learner anything you like. If you want an adult to own learning they must discover it for themselves through an experience that allows them to reflect, generalize and consider appropriate and relevant applications.
Experiential learning is an effective way to quickly and effectively provide training with lasting, real world results. A major 1998 study of training programs offered in a large corporation demonstrated the superiority of experiential training methods. The programs that used experiential methods resulted in twice as much improvement in performance, as rated by supervisors and peers, as did the other programs. Furthermore, the return on investment for the experiential programs was seven times greater1
Retention Levels as a Result of
Different Training Methods
1 Source: L. Spencer, in L.J. Bassi and D. Russ-Eft, eds., What wWorks, ASTD, Alexandria, VA, 1997
The Experiential Leaning Cycle
The Experiential Learning Cycle incorporates four distinct stages and is a tried and tested model taught and applied by the St. Francis Xavier Adult Education Program.
Agree incorporates educational scholar David Kolb's groundbreaking research into how adult learners acquire and assimilate information to solve problems. In his research, Kolb described four learning styles - Learning Experience, Observe and Reflect, Generalize and Conceptualize and Experiment and Integrate.
- The first stage is Experience. This stage will involve a form of stimulation, such as a story, an object lesson, a video-tape, a lecturette, or a demonstration, among others. This stage appeals to learners who learn best through doing or experiencing first hand.
- The second stage is Reflection. This involves some form of conversation, sometimes moderated by the facilitator, often moderated by the learners themselves, where they will be asked to describe what their personal understanding or assessment of the situation is.
- This stage appeals to those learners who are sensors and enjoy learning through seeing and bouncing their observations and feelings off of other learners. It also invites people to share what they feel about what they have seen, and helps create a supportive learning environment.
- The third stage is Generalization. This stage involves theorizing and identifying patterns or hypotheses about why something took place. This stage appeals to those who enjoy forming patterns and making connections - the thinkers, if you will.
- The fourth and final stage is Application. This stage challenges learners to identify and discuss how the generalizations and theories from stage three might be applied in the real world where learners live and work. This stage appeals to those of a practical bent who need to ground their learning in the here and now. It answers the question that can frustrate many adult learners if it goes unanswered - namely, "So what? What exactly do I do differently?"
Agree's Workshop Facilitators are seasoned mediators who spend the bulk of their time in the fray of helping people to solve problems in challenging circumstances. Each have formal training and real time experience in conflict engagement and all have a commitment to adult learning through the Experiential Learning Cycle above.
Agree's Educational Partners include some of the leading practitioners and learning institutions in Canada, such as Conrad Grebel University College (University of Waterloo) and the Industrial Relations Centre (Queen's University). These partnerships provide unparalleled opportunities to leverage learning from the academic and professional spheres into our training workshops.