What You Should Know About Adult Learning

March 24, 2023

Written by:
Today's Class Team

Early learning is necessary for humans to function in the world. We learn to walk, talk, share, and then read, write, and calculate. Compared to the learning we are capable of as adults; all of this is just preparation. As children, we are obligated to learn, even if we do not have desire or motivation.

When we choose to undergo learning as adults, we do it with a purpose and intensity that makes the experience so much more valuable. Today, many people must learn new information and master new skills as industries and trades are transformed or become obsolete. Understanding how adult learning works can help guide you and your team on their learning journey.

What is Adult Learning Theory?

Theories of adult learning originated from a concept known as andragogy, the art of teaching adults, not to be confused with pedagogy, the art of teaching children.

 Andragogy is distinct from pedagogy in five different ways:

  • A focus on self-directed learning
  • The opportunity to draw on life experience
  • A willingness to learn and fill new roles and responsibilities
  • A focus on implementing new knowledge immediately in practical scenarios
  • The internal motivation of the adult learner

The challenges of adult learning are also distinct from those of traditional learning, and the first challenge is time. Adult learners tend to have more responsibilities, which means less time for training. Additionally, adults have less confidence in learning. As children, there is less to worry about and less at stake. For adults, there is pressure when it comes to retaining new knowledge. Adults must learn in order to grow, progress, and succeed. Finally, adult learners have more access to learning resources. Kids often receive a prescribed, one-size-fits all approach to learning. On the other hand, adults have many learning resources at their disposal, along with the monetary means and privilege to utilize them. 

What are Adult Learning Principles?

Adult learning is based on seven core principles:

  • Self-Direction
  • Transformational
  • Experience-Based
  • Mentorship
  • Learning Orientation
  • Motivation
  • Learning Readiness


Maturity and experience give adult students greater capacity for self-directed learning. Adult training programs that take advantage of this help students take control of their own learning. As a result, these students become more confident in their ability to retain information and practice what they’ve learned.


Transformational learning is the idea that as adult learners gain new information, they re-evaluate past ideas and knowledge. Their worldview often shifts as they obtain new information and reflect more critically. 


A successful adult learning program contextualizes lessons and skills. When learning is relatable to a job or daily activity, adult learners naturally grasp new information. When the level of training matches the level of the learner, knowledge is retained more easily.


As we age, we have a greater capacity to learn from instruction and guidance; therefore, mentorship is extremely valuable in adult learning. When we were younger, we commonly viewed mentors as authority figures. As we grow older, we are more willing to see mentors as equals who have valuable information to impart.

Learning Orientation

Adult learners benefit from a period of learning orientation, otherwise known as an establishment of expectations. This could be in the form of a training overview, an introduction to a lesson, or an outline of points to be learned. When expectations are identified from the start, uncertainty is removed, and learners can approach the new information with confidence.


Children and teens have different motivations for learning when compared to adults. Our culture rarely allows them to learn what they like. On the other hand, adults are self-motivated and learn with a personal goal in mind - whether it be to master a new skill, receive a promotion, or switch careers.

Learning Readiness

In addition to being more motivated, adults have more experience with learning. As children, we are learning new information, plus how to learn. Overtime, we better understand how the learning process works, and we are more prepared to take in new information.

Leverage the Power of Adult Automotive Training

Today, more and more businesses are looking into adult learning programs for their employees. This is especially true for the automotive industry as shops aim to retain their staff and optimize their performance.

An effective training program focused on adult learning can boost your shop’s productivity by gearing your team with the latest tools and techniques. You can build an environment where employees learn at their own pace and gain relevant knowledge and skills. Best of all, you’ll boost employee satisfaction and retention by preparing your staff with the knowledge and skills needed for success.

With Today's Class Technician, you get consistent training for every team member on technical topics, customer management, and business processes. We are initiating a change in the industry with a focus on dynamic, data-driven, automotive technician training.

Get in touch today to learn more about what the latest in automotive training can do for your business!


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Tags: Training, adult learning, andragogy, Principles of adult learning, automotive training

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