Motivational Techniques

According to the article, for motivating adult, “non-traditional” learners, teachers have to keep in mind that adults have different priorities and commitments from those of the young learners. If teachers guide the learners through learning process without dictating the outcome of the experience, then learning will occur. Autonomy and independence, which means “freedom of pace, choice, method, content, or assessment,” will motivate students, empowering their self-esteem. Student-centered instruction and involving students in decision-making in assessing process are among motivational techniques for engagement of adult learners.

Engaging Adult Learners. Prepared by Michelle Schwartz, Research Associate, for the Learning & Teaching Office,


Characteristics of Adult Learners

The San Diego City College article briefly touches on historical roots of adult learning principals, compares adults with children as learners, and comes up with a number of characteristics which describe an adult learner, based on “Pike’s Laws of Adult Learning”:

  • Law 1: Adults are babies with big bodies.
  • Law 2: People do not argue with their own data.
  • Law 3: Learning is directly proportional to the amount of fun you are having.
  • Law 4: Learning has not taken place until behavior has changed.

For discussing the adult learning style differences, the article presents several approaches developed in adult learning theories.  According to the article, learning styles are based on the “senses that are involved in processing information; theories of intelligence, including emotional intelligence and ‘multiple intelligences’; and preferences for learning conditions, i.e., the environment in which learning takes place.”

Adult Learning. San Diego City College


According to the article posted on the University of Michigan website, the three key components of lesson planning are the following: 1) Identifying the objectives 2) Preparing activities 3) Preparing and planning evaluation of what students have learned.

The teacher should keep in mind that it is important for adult learners to create experiential knowledge, and encourage them to share it with their peers, ask questions and listen to suggestions, developing a routine of learning. An adult students’ instructor will always ask for students’ cooperative input by linking their suggestions to the objectives of the lesson. Students will develop and understand the values of peer and group work as they learn together, building each other’s individual strengths. As Milkova pointed out, “A productive lesson is not one in which everything goes exactly as planned, but one in which both students and instructor learn from each other.”

Retrieved from

Stiliana Milkova. Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning

Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. University of Michigan


Instructional Process/Strategies

Facilitating “barrier free learning,” according to the author of Engaging Adult Learners, means to employ strategies which make the material clear, interesting and relevant to students. The instruction of adult learners needs to be open for strategies, which would increase the participation of all learners, which would keep apathy and boredom out of the classroom. The use of actual case studies, for example, and experimental projects will inspire to motivate a discussion, increase students’ interest and promote learning.

Bryson encourages teachers to consider students’ previous experiences while designing and delivering instruction, as well as to use technology in teaching and learning and a process approach for assignments.

Bryson’s article is a great tool for instructors who want to link theoretical principles of adult learning with practice.


ENGAGING ADULT LEARNERS: Philosophy, Principles and Practices

Summer, 2013

Creating a Positive Learning Enviroment

A safe, respectful, caring environment in a classroom will motivate students and promote learning.Students should feel free and safe about asking any questions and sharing their opinions both with their peers and the instructor while the instructor should establish an environment of mutual understanding, respect and trust. “Connectedness,” according to the article, is an important aspect of a positive learning place where “Students share a common purpose and a sense of mutual care.” In a culturally diverse classroom setting, the instructor’s cultural awareness and sensitivity are also very important.

All these aspects of a positive learning environment are necessary to think about from the very beginning of the course because it is crucial to establish the trustful connected relationship at the time you start your communication with students.

Kathleen O’Connell. Creating a Positive learning Environment
University of Maryland, Baltimore County. December, 2005