Engage the adult learner – Occupational health and safety

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Engage the adult learner

By Terri Dougherty, Editor at JJ Keller & Associates, Inc.

For many adults, sitting in a training room is something to be avoided at all costs. However, training is a necessary part of today’s workplace. Companies must provide training for their employees. To help the reluctant learner, trainers can use a variety of techniques that will spark students’ interest and desire to participate in the training.

Learning can be defined as the act, process or experience of acquiring knowledge or skills. Presenting information in a way that enables the learner to acquire the knowledge is the challenge for the trainer. Part of this challenge is that students learn in different ways. They learn by seeing, hearing, speaking, writing and doing. Many mature students have a primary learning style, and they will learn more effectively when that particular learning style is used during training. Therefore, the trainer should use a combination of auditory, visual, tactile and participatory styles in order to reach all trainees in the class. By incorporating a mix of styles, the trainer is sure to reach all students.


Participation

Trainers should actively involve participants in the learning process. Instructors should encourage students to be active participants, not passive learners. While conferences can be effective, they should be kept to a minimum, if possible. One way to engage learners is to use problem solving situations. Additionally, the trainer can use case studies, role plays and games to engage people.

Question-and-answer sessions and small group discussions allow adults to participate. Small group discussions give individuals the opportunity to express their opinions in a less intimidating environment. Question and answer periods can be effective, but some adults are reluctant to simply “speak” during training. One way to help adult learners ask questions is to have them submit written questions for the trainer to read to the class. Using these techniques keeps learners involved and active.

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