Volume 82, January 2008: The Adult Learner

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2008 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Joy in learning comes not so much from what is learned, but from learning.” — W. Edwards Deming

“Real learning gets at the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we recreate ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we were never able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world and our relationship to it.” — Peter Senge

“When we teach someone what we’ve learned, we learn twice.” — Stephen Covey

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” — William Butler Yeats


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Being a life-long learner.
  • Commitment to the learning of others.
  • The ability to teach in order to advance your own learning.
  • Making the learning journey part of everyone’s job.
  • Making sure that training is relevant, useful, and problem-focused.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Many times, when leaders make it to “the top,” they neglect their continued learning, in service to the organization’s daily business.

Have you stalled out in your learning? If so,

  • Start reading. Seek sources outside your field.
  • Start talking. Dialogue is a wonderful way to learn.
  • Keep a journal (start talking to yourself).
  • Start drawing. Open up both sides of your brain.
  • Commit to the learning of others. Learn by teaching.
  • Commit to a life-long learning plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

“How do adults learn best?”
  • Expect training to be relevant, immediately useful and problem-focused.
  • Have valuable past experience and can serve as resources to a group.
  • Expect high participation and enjoy experiential learning.
  • Function best in a collaborative environment.
  • See the trainer(s) as their equal(s); will not be talked down to.
  • Learn at different rates.
  • Are self-directed learners, choosing what is important to learn for them and how they wish to contribute to others’ learning.
  • Have the ability to help and teach others.
  • Possess unique learning styles, suggesting that the trainer engage multiple senses, different channels.
  • Benefit from trial, error, and feedback, if given support and a chance for success.
“I have lectured and taught college classes, and I am a good presenter. Why does this approach feel awkward with my staff?”
In a classroom situation, adult learners like to manage their own experience. Try shifting your role to that of facilitator, the process owner of the learning space. You are the host and guide, but they learn from each other. Training becomes a dialogue, a conversation, not a monologue.
Use methods of high involvement and participation, such as case studies, story-telling, buzz groups, role play, fishbowls. See Bob Pike (2003) to learn more about participatory methods.
“Do you follow an outline?”
Yes, generally:
  1. An opener – something that requires participation and links to the material.
  2. Presentation of a concept or skill.
  3. Processing or application, both personally and organizationally. (Discussion, Practice)
  4. Feedback on the application of the concept.

Exercises and Action Items:

Practice the Behavioral Modeling Method in skills training.

  • Describe the skill being taught.
  • Demonstrate or model the use of the skill.
  • Have the learners practice using the skill.
  • Provide feedback on their use of the skill.

Make "evaluation" part of every learning experience. List did wells and could improves.

Collaboratively create Learning Plans for all of your employees.


Adults as learners, and how to motivate them: Motivating Students.

Key Associates offers Train-the-Trainer on all courses, and a special course for trainers called "Facilitating the Learning Journey." We also create customized training packages for organizations: Products and Services.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Many links on adult learning theory and CE: Continuing Education.

Developers of customized, multi-media curricula: Program Design and Development.

Keyzines on related topics: Learning Organizations, The Leader as Storyteller, Dialogue: Thinking Together, Convening People, and Inspirational Speaking.



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