The Ways in which Adults Learn

Throughout the latter stages of our lives, as adults we may generate a sudden or latent interest in learning a new skill. This could be a language, an instrument or a piece of software. Many assume that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but the reality is, you just have to know the best way in which you learn yourself.

In the 1900’s, Malcolm Knowles was a leading advocate of ‘andragogy’; the education of adults.  Adult Learning Theories and Principles are a hotly contested and discussed topic in cognitive development and psychology, with many scholars offering diverse opinions.

Primarily, there are three ways in which humans learn after a certain age. For many, you may have been taught in one or more of these ways by your educators depending on their styles of teaching. From memory, the case may be that you prefer to learn using one, two or all three of these combinations:

Visual Learners:

Those who learn through images, graphs, infographics and drawings are classed as visual learners. The case may also be that they are able to demonstrate their understanding with pictures as opposed to describing/explaining their comprehension in words.

Auditory Learners:

Auditory Learners benefit best by listening to their instructors. Other methods that may be involved in the educating of Auditory Learners include group discussions, verbal reinforcement, group activities, and reading aloud. Advanced Auditory Learners may be able to pick up multiple meanings or perhaps the true meanings of a verbal statement by listening to audible linguistic signals such as tone, hedge language and convergence/divergence.

Tactile Learners:

Those who learn by actively engaging with a task or need to physically carry out an action to understand it are categorised as Tactile Learners. They tend to volunteer to assist with demonstrations as it triggers their procedural memory for recalling how to do a task. In addition to this, they are more likely to remember how to do something through practice of the task rather than being told how to do it.

These are three brief ways of categorising the types of learner one is likely to be, and each method may trigger a memory of how you best learned a skill. For some, you may be a combination of aspects between different types of learners. It is up to you to decide which ways you learn best and seek an educator who is able to deliver.

If you are practising a skill and feel as though you could benefit with bespoke personal coaching alongside your learning, Anne Taylor is experienced in helping individuals realise their true potential. Based in London, Anne has worked with whole corporate teams as well as individuals, so if your workplace could benefit from executive corporate coaching, then feel free to get in touch on 02031 516 830 or alternatively fill out the contact form on the website.