Importance of Adult Learning Theory in Corporate Training


Every trainer wants that their corporate learning is as engaging & impactful as possible. But most of them do know how to go about it. One way to solve this issue is by understanding how your learner’s mind thinks & learns. Using the concept of Adult Learning Theory in creating better corporate training programs.

Knowing how your leaners process information will help in building training programs that can deliver the training information effectively. It highlights the ways in which an adult learns and responds towards learning. The theory is very simple to understand & utilize into corporate training programs.

What Does Adult Learning Theory Mean?

Adult Learning Theory, also known as Andragogy, is the study & analysis of how adults learn & how it differs in the way that children learn. The theory was first developed by Malcom Knowles in 1968. The theory specifies how adult learning is distinct and identifies various learning styles.

Over a period of time, the theory has been modified and adapted many times. In essence, adult learning theory has six assumptions and 4 basic principles. The theory works very well in corporate training courses, such as soft skill development.  

6 Key Assumptions of the Adult Learning Theory

These 6 assumptions are the core concepts of the adult learning theory. Each assumption specifies the ways in which most adults perceive learning and how they would prefer to train.

1. Learner Experience

Adults have more experience as compared to the younger learners, and subsequently, draw their own inferences and information from these experiences. Using previous experiences & knowledge, adult training can get better results with respect to set programs. But it can also lead to mental rigidity, which can create issues in learning newer concepts.

2. Readiness to Learn

Adults generally are eager to learn only when there is a reason to learn. For example, undergoing upskilling training programs with an aim of development & growth related to their work.

3. Self – Concept:

As we keep growing, we acquire greater self-awareness. Eventually, we stop being dependent, and start thinking more independently. Learners then prefer a more self-directed approach rather than instructor based learning.

4. Motivation

As children, our need for learning depends on different external factors, such as teachers or parents. But, as adults, our motivations for learning become more intrinsic in nature. Such as career development. Intrinsic motivation are more effective than external factors, leading to self-determination & focused learning.

5. Need To Know

This factor precedes the aspect of motivation and readiness. Adults need to know the reason to learn. Furthermore, they require information as to why they have to learn something, what benefit will they derive from learning, how will that learning help them solve their problem

6. Orientation of the Learning

As adults, we would prefer to learn more practical skills that will help solve our problems better or make our work more efficient. Adults would like to learn skills that are more applicable in the real world, rather than generic theoretical knowledge.

4 Basic Principles of Adult Learning

As discussed before, adults have their own unique way of learning. These 4 main principles will help explain how to develop the best training for them.

  1. Memorizing information or rote learning is not the best way for adults to learn. They to use reasoning and solve problems to absorb the information that is being taught to them.
  2. Adults like to be involved in various aspects of the training, such as the training plan, execution of the training etc. They prefer being in control on how they would like to learn, in which way, and at what time.
  3. Adults prefer a more immediate implementation of their learning. They prefer knowing how learning this particular information can help them now, rather than in the future.
  4. Adults tend to learn more when they can infer from past experiences and use it in their learning process. They can draw information on what they have known previously and add more context to their current learning.

How to Apply Adult Learning Theory in Corporate Training

Now that you understood what adult learning theory is, as well as its assumptions and principles, how do you incorporate these concepts into your corporate learning? Following are few methods which can be used to apply this theory into your training program.

1.Create Self Directed Learning

Corporate learning historically have been activities that were done only at specified times. With the introduction of technologies like Learning Management System, you can now create an independent training environment which is more self-directed.

This will allow your learners to train as per their preference. They can have a greater control of their training program. Learners can choose from various courses and can create their own learning goals.

2. Analyze Your Learning

Incorporate an analysis phase into your training design. Analyze every aspect of training in that phase. Consider how adult learning theory applies in your training.

You can assess how the previous training performed and analyze whether or not it fits into the framework of andragogy and modify accordingly. Discuss on what the practical applications of the training are & how it will benefit the learners.

3. Collaboration is Important

As mentioned before, adults like to be involved in their training programs. Therefore, it is good to involve them as much as possible. You can create courses by asking them what they would like to learn and how would they like to learn it.

Even during the learning process, encourage more collaboration. Ask for opinions, engage in discussion with the other learners & trainers. Take feedback at the end of the training that will give a sense of control & participation to the learners.

4. Experimentation is Necessary

There is no one key fits all method in training that will work for everyone in corporate training. The best way to have adaptable learning is experimentation. Test various techniques and observe its effects. Use various combinations of andragogy into your corporate training and see how it enhances the learning experience.

5.Let Learners Figure Things Out

Adults like to solve problems rather than just listening to facts. Therefore its best to have a more creative approach with courses that will get your learners’ brain working.

Some of the ways to achieve this is by having assessments & simulations that pose specific problems & situations which the learners may face in real life. And letting the learners use their own skills to figure out a solution to solve the problem.

6.Real World Examples

When creating your training programs, ensure that you incorporate as many real world examples & cases as possible. This will help learners understand how the training will have benefit them and its immediate application.


Design your training program that embeds the adult learning program with the help of KloudLearn. Create intuitive courses as per your requirements with our course authoring tools. Provide access to your employee to a large collection of content with Kloudlearn’s content library.

To know more about how we can help transform your enterprise learning or to schedule a demo, visit Kloudlearn to know more.

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