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Unit 3: Adult Learning Principles

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1 Unit 3: Adult Learning Principles
©SHRM 2009

2 Learning A relatively permanent change in human capabilities that is not a result of growth processes. Noe, 2008 ©SHRM 2009

3 Unit 3 Class 1: Adult Learning Principles
Learning objectives: By the end of this unit, students will: 1. Define andragogy. 2. Define learning as a change in behavior or cognitive process. 3. Describe characteristics of adult learners. 4. Describe principles of adult learning. 5. Apply principles of adult learning to training. Objectives for Unit #3 ©SHRM 2009

4 Adult Learning Principles
Adult learners are different. It’s not like working with children. ©SHRM 2009

5 Andragogy Andragogy: The art and science of helping adults learn. Educating adults involves understanding adult learning principles. Knowles, 1970 Malcolm Knowles coined the word andragogy in Most of us are more familiar with the term pedagogy as the process of helping children learn. Andragogy is the art and science of helping adults learn. Knowles, Malcolm A. (1970). The modern practice of adult education. New York. Association Press. ©SHRM 2009

6 Adult Learning Theory The andragogy model is based on several assumptions: Adults have the need to know why they are learning something. Adults have a need to be self-directed. Adults bring more work-related experience into the learning situation. Adults enter into a learning experience with a problem-centered approach to learning. Adults are motivated to learn by both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. Noe (2008) pg. 133 It is especially important to consider principles of adult learning when developing training programs. A common theme of successful adult training is that of mutuality, in which both the trainer and the learner are involved in creating a learning experience and making sure that learning occurs. ©SHRM 2009

7 Learning Is Change Learning is a change in behavior or cognitive process. In training it is a change in knowledge, skill or attitude. Acquiring new information and knowledge is part of everyday adult life. Learning is an individual process. ©SHRM 2009

8 Characteristics of Adult Learners
Control over learning. High motivation to learn. Pragmatic in learning. Learning may be a secondary role. Resistant to change. Adult learners are more diverse. Draw on past experiences in learning. Learning is often self-initiated. Learning is aimed at an immediate goal. Houle, Ball, 1996 Control over learning: Adult learners tend to be self-directed in their lives. To meet this need, training programs should try to include adult learners in the planning of the training program. High motivation to learn: Since most adult learning is voluntary or optional, adult learners make personal choices to attend training even when such training is tied to professional development of job skills. Trainers do not need to spend a lot of time trying to motivate adult learners but can concentrate on facilitating the learning that adults are already motivated to pursue. Pragmatic in learning: Adult learners are motivated to learn information that is immediately applicable to their situation and needs. To meet this need, program content must be relevant to the application needs of the learners. Learning may be a secondary role: For most adult learners, the student role is a minor and/or secondary aspect of their lives. Because of multiple roles, most adults have far less time and energy to read, study or learn. Adult education programs require flexibility and more learning time. Resistant to change: Learning often involves changes in attitudes or actions. Adults tend to be somewhat resistant to such change and may be comfortable doing things the way they have done them in the past. Adult learners are more diverse: Adult learners are diverse in terms of age, background, training and experience, much more than traditional age learners. Training programs must allow for a variety of learning styles and use different training methods, allowing more time for interaction between adults to allow learners to network to share perspectives and experiences. Draw on past experiences in learning: Adult learners tend to link any new learning to their previous experience. They evaluate the validity of new ideas and concepts in light of how the idea or concept “fits” their experience. Trainers should take advantage of adult learner experience and help the adult learner link new ideas to previous learning and encourage discussion on how new ideas fit the experience of learners. Learning often self-initiated: Adults often recognize a need and will initiate learning on their own without stimulus from outside sources. Learning aimed at an immediate goal: Adults often engage in learning to solve a problem or to achieve a solution. They are often not interested in the broad picture but instead want specific information from training that they can apply immediately in the workplace. Sources: Houle, C. O. (1984). Patterns of learning. Jossey-Bass, Ball, C. L. (1996). Demystifying adult literacy for volunteer tutors: A reference handbook and resource guide. Retrieved from ©SHRM 2009

9 What Is Learning? Learning is a permanent change in human capabilities that is not a result of the growth process. Learning outcomes: What do we learn? Verbal information. Intellectual skills. Motor skills. Attitudes. Cognitive strategy. Noe, 2008 Learning : A permanent change in human capabilities that is not a result of the growth process. Learning outcomes: What is learned. Verbal information : Names, labels, facts, etc. Specific information that employees need for job performance. Intellectual skills: Understanding concepts and rules that enable individuals to solve problems and make inferences. Motor skills: Coordination and dexterity necessary to perform job-related tasks. For example, an arborist must learn how to climb trees. Attitudes: The combinations of beliefs and feelings that influence an individual to behave in a certain way. Beliefs are cognitive components of attitudes and feelings are affective components. Intent to behave in a certain way in response to specific circumstances is the intentional component of attitudes. Training programs are sometimes intended to change employee attitudes. Cognitive strategies: Methods that regulate the process of learning. These are the learner’s decisions to behave in a certain way that facilitates learning. For example, the learner makes a conscious decision to attend class, pay attention to discussion, take notes, etc. (Noe, 2008.) ©SHRM 2009

10 The Learning Cycle The learning cycle is a dynamic process that involves four specific stages: Concrete experience. Reflective observation. Abstract conceptualization. Active experimentation. The key to effective learning is to be competent in each of the four stages. Concrete experience: The learner first encounters an experience. Reflective observation: The learner thinks about the experience and the problem. Abstract conceptualization: The learner thinks about different ways to solve the problem. Active experimentation: The learner implements the ideas about how to solve the problem. Think about a child learning to ride a bicycle. The child jumps on the new bicycle, takes off and probably falls over. Ouch! That’s a concrete experience (or maybe an experience with concrete!) It’s likely he thinks about the fall (reflective observation) and doesn’t want to do that again, so he must think of another way to solve the problem. He may think he never wants to ride again (abstract conceptualization). That’s one way to solve the problem, but when all his friends are riding, he knows it’s not a very good solution. He needs to come up with some other ideas for riding safely, getting in more practice and less pain! Maybe Mom or Dad could hold on to the back of his shirt while he practices or maybe he can try riding at various speeds. Eventually, with enough practice (active experimentation), he gets the hang of it and rides off with his friends! Learning has occurred! ©SHRM 2009

11 Learning Styles Diverger Assimilator Converger Accommodator
The learning styles combine each of the four elements of the learning cycle. Diverger: Generates ideas and understands multiple perspectives. Based on concrete experience and reflective observation. Assimilator: Good at inductive reasoning, can create theoretical models and explanations. Based on abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. Converger: Good deductive reasoning, decision making and application of ideas. Based on abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. Accommodator: Involved in new experiences, implements decisions and carries out plans. Based on concrete experience and active experimentation. ©SHRM 2009

12 Kolb’s Learning Styles
What Learning Style Are You? There are a number of good web sites for information on Kolb’s learning styles. Students may want to go online and take a learning style inventory to discover their individual learning style. Indiana University of Pennsylvania: ©SHRM 2009

13 Unit 3 Class 2: The Learning Process
How do people learn new information? Visual. Auditory. Kinesthetic. Information is learned from what we see and hear and from the inferences we make from that information. Many adults believe that they learn best from experience. Therefore, it is important that trainers include opportunities for trainees to experience activities and to practice the material learned. Visual: I see it. Auditory: I hear it. Kinesthetic: I do it. ©SHRM 2009

14 The Learning Process Learning occurs through both mental and physical processes: Expectancy. Perception. Working storage. Semantic encoding. Rehearsal. Organization. Elaboration. Retrieval. Generalizing. Gratifying. Learning is a multi-step process that is both mental and physical. Expectancy is the mental state that the learner brings to the instructional process. This includes the learner’s motivation to learn and whether the learner has the basic skills necessary to learn the information presented. For example, if the learner is deficient in basic reading skills, the training must be presented without the need for reading—otherwise, the learner will not benefit from the training. Perception leads to understanding. It is the ability of the learner to organize the material so that it can be useful and acted on. Both working storage and semantic encoding are related to short-term memory. Working storage allows the learner to rehearse and repeat the information so that it can be entered into memory. Working storage is limited, and research indicates that not more than five messages can be processed for storage at any one time. Semantic encoding is the actual coding process that enters messages into memory. Rehearsal focuses on learning through repetition or memorization. It is the simplest learning strategy. Organizing is more complicated and requires that the learner find similarities and themes in the material learned and categorize material accordingly. Elaboration occurs when the learner relates the material learned to other knowledge and draws appropriate conclusions. Retrieval involves identifying the new learning in long-term memory and retrieving it for use at another time. Not only does the learner need to retrieve the information learned, but the information then must be generalized to use in similar situations. Gratifying is the feedback the learner receives from using the information in new situations. (Noe, 2008) ©SHRM 2009

15 Reinforcement theory:
Learning Theories Reinforcement theory: People are motivated to perform or avoid certain behaviors because of past experience based on that behavior. Positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement. Extinction. How can this theory be used in training? This is a commonly used learning theory. It makes the assumption that people will respond positively when good behavior is rewarded and they will repeat the desired behavior to continue obtaining the reward. This is positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is just the opposite, but it makes the same assumption. It assumes that people will avoid behaviors that are punishing or somehow painful. Negative reinforcement administers a form of punishment to a specific behavior with the expectation that to avoid the punishment, individuals will not repeat the behavior. Extinction is the process of withdrawing all reinforcement, both positive and negative, in an effort to eliminate the behavior. It assumes that if the behavior is ignored, it will be discontinued. How can this theory be used in training? Trainers need to identify what outcomes the learners find positive (and negative) and then link those outcomes to the learners’ acquisition of knowledge, skills or changing behavior. ©SHRM 2009

16 Social Learning Theory
People learn by observing other people (models) they think are knowledgeable and credible. The model’s behavior is adopted. Self-efficacy: The individual must believe he or she iscapable of learning. Four processes in learning: Attention. Retention. Motor reproduction. Motivation. Social learning assumes that individuals learn by observing the behavior of others. When we see good behavior being rewarded in other people, we are likely to repeat the others’ behavior. If we see others being punished for poor behavior, we are unlikely to adopt those negative behaviors. The model sets the learning example for the observers. Individuals’ learning is also influenced by their self-efficacy, their own perception of their ability to learn. If an individual doesn’t believe he or she is capable of learning, he or she probably won’t learn; but if the learner believes he or she is capable of learning, the learner will likely put forth the necessary effort and persist in learning even when learning conditions are less than ideal. Processes necessary for learning to occur: Attention:The learner must be aware of the important aspects of the model’s behavior to know what behaviors he or she is supposed to be observing. Retention: The learner must remember the observed behaviors. Motor reproduction: The learner will try the observed behavior to determine if he or she receives the same reinforcement received by the model. Motivation: The learners is more motivated to engage in the model behavior if he or she sees that the behavior is positively reinforced. ©SHRM 2009

17 Goal Theories Goal-setting theory: Goal orientation:
Behavior results from a person’s intentional goals and objectives Goal orientation: Learning orientation. Performance orientation. Goal-setting theory assumes that learning can be improved by providing trainees with specific challenging goals and objectives. It is important to remember that goals have been shown to lead to high performance only when the individuals involved are committed to the goals. In goal orientation, those learners with a learning orientation believe that training success occurs when improvement and progress are made in performance. They accept that mistakes will be made and consider errors and mistakes to be part of the learning process. As long as progress is being made, the learner is on the right track. For those with a performance orientation, the learner focus is on task performance and how that performance compares to others. They see success as high performance only and find errors and mistakes to be unacceptable. Learners with a high learning orientation learn for the sake of learning, while those with a performance orientation focus on performing well with less effort put on learning itself. ©SHRM 2009

18 Need Theories A need is a deficiency that a person experiences at a certain time. A need motivates a person to behave in a way that satisfies the deficiency. Need theory suggests that trainers should identify the trainee needs and communicate to them how the training will satisfy that need. Note to the instructor: It may be appropriate (if there is time available) to add information here on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory and on McClelland’s theory of need for achievement, affiliation and power. ©SHRM 2009

19 Expectancy Theory Behavior is linked to three factors:
Expectancies: The trainee’s belief that increasing effort will lead to higher performance. Instrumentality: The trainee’s belief that performing a certain behavior will lead to an expected reward. Valence: The value that the trainee places on the reward. How does this relate to training? Expectancy theory suggests that individuals will only make the effort to improve their performance if they believe their extra effort will lead to the desired performance and thereby result in a desired reward. They must see the link between effort and performance in achieving the outcome. The other key issue in expectancy theory is that the outcome must be valued by the individual or the individual will not make the effort necessary to attain the outcome. Don’t expect a weekend at a golf resort to increase employee performance if the employee involved doesn’t like golf! Ask students to discuss how this theory relates to training. (Noe, 2008) ©SHRM 2009

20 Information Processing Theory
Information is taken in by the brain. Information undergoes transformation. Information is encoded into short-term or long-term memory. Information is stored and available for later retrieval and use. Feedback from the environment. Information processing theory assumes that learning occurs in the brain as a result of stimulus. The information is encoded, stored and later made available to use for various purposes. The final link in the model is feedback from the environment, which gives the learner an evaluation of the information. ©SHRM 2009

21 How will you apply these theories into your training design?
Learning Theories How will you apply these theories into your training design? ©SHRM 2009

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