16 Tips for Motivating Adult Learners to Learn

With the advent of educational technologies and changes in the labor sphere, the importance of adult education has increased significantly. However, it is common knowledge that adult learners are very difficult to motivate. Here’s what you can do to get them started learning.

How to motivate adults

Unlike kids and teens, adults tend to have a ton of things in their head, and e-learning courses are unlikely to top this list. In addition, adults do not consider candy to be a reward for learning, and therefore do not see learning outcomes as quickly as they would like. They also forgot the skills of acquiring new knowledge. In the end, some of them simply have to take courses in order to get or keep a job, or to pursue their intended career plans. All of this greatly undermines motivation and prevents adults from actively learning.

However, you can try to motivate them.

  1. Provide a rewarding and relevant experience based on the age and interests of the learners;
  2. Emphasize practical knowledge. The course should be designed in such a way that its value is evident. Materials must be selected so that the knowledge gained can be applied in practice. Adults value practical knowledge, not abstract facts and lengthy theories;
  3. Facilitate the research process. Like children, adults are very curious by nature, and they enjoy learning in their own way. For this reason, you must provide them with a wide variety of materials – links, infographics, short videos, lectures, podcasts, etc. In this case, the students themselves will choose what they are interested in, and they will receive knowledge with pleasure;
  4. Build a community and connect social media. Remember, social media is a powerful tool for collaboration, exchange of views, and information dissemination. Organize a group discussion on social media, it will be fun;
  5. Simple dubbing of videos isn’t enough. Make personal contact. Your course must have a face. Chat with students, invite experts, authors of books and articles, professors from universities and other professionals who can participate in the discussion;
  6. Give an opportunity to prove yourself in games. Offer to complete difficult tasks and analyze different situations. Get students to seek and find solutions;
  7. Don’t forget about humor. Humor works well even for those who have no motivation to learn at all. Knowing that you can joke at any time, students will listen to you more carefully so as not to miss the joke. Humor is a safe bet;
  8. Divide information into portions. Crushing is very important, it helps people to better absorb information. In other words, it will be easier for them to process small portions;
  9. Add surprise. Do not “lay all the cards on the table” at the very beginning of the course. Yes, you need to describe this course somehow, but it will be better to keep silent about some points. Nobody likes to read detective stories in which it is already clear who the killer is;
  10. Adapt to personal interests and career needs. Encourage students to move towards their goal using a personalized approach;
  11. Stimulate students. Encourage independent thinking by offering them puzzles and asking provocative questions;
  12. Let students learn from mistakes. According to a German proverb, “the one who is wrong gets smarter.” You’ve probably heard that repetition is the mother of learning. Henry Rediger once conducted an experiment by dividing his students into two groups. Group A was asked to read the research paper 4 times and Group B was asked to read it once, but Group B was tested three times. According to the author of the experiment, one week after the end of the experiment, students from group B performed 50% better than students from group A, despite the fact that they had less time to read the article. This example clearly illustrates the effectiveness of repetition;
  13. Make your course visually appealing. Do you know that we receive 83% of information using the organs of sight in the learning process?
  14. Add an emotional dimension. If you can’t inspire students and find engaging content, how do you plan to increase your motivation level? Add an emotional component – express conflicting judgments, make you refer to memories, study life situations;
  15. Give working examples. Your students will not always be able to relate the knowledge gained to work tasks, and they will need reminders to maintain this connection;
  16. Respect your students. Ask for their opinion. It will be helpful for them to know that their opinion can influence the course development.