Leaders in The Commercial Transportation Industry Can Benefit from Understanding How Adults Learn
As many of my industry friends and colleagues know, I started my career as a corporate trainer. From there I moved into designing classroom training programs and basic e-learning modules. In the commercial transportation industry, there is always a reason why training and adult education is facilitated for truck drivers, operations, dispatch and basically everyone else in the organization.
When we say training, most of us think of a traditional classroom environment with an instructor speaking at the front of the room using PowerPoint slides (or an overhead projector with transparent slides for those of us old enough to remember). This is not always the case, as training can take place in a variety of ways and just about anywhere. Training can be one-on-one, to a group of hundreds, can be planned, or take place spontaneously.
The Learning Process is Much Different for Adults
One thing to remember is that adults learn much differently than children. In many cases, someone attending a training session may not have been in a classroom since they left school. Being back in that learning environment can bring back some difficult memories and can be very intimidating.
When preparing your next training session, please remember the following principals of adult education, as defined by Malcolm Knowles, famed author and influential professor of adult education.
- Adults Are Internally Motivated and Self-directed – Adult learners will resist training if they feel it is being imposed upon them. This means that the role of the instructor is to be more of a guide and allow them to take responsibility for their learning.
- Adults Bring Life Experiences and Knowledge to Their Learning Experiences – Use an adult’s experience in a scenario to guide the learning.
- Adults Are Goal oriented – Demonstrate how learning will impact their professional (or personal) lives. What is the goal we are all trying to achieve?
- Relevancy Is The Focus – Adults need to know the relevance of what they are learning. Make sure that the objectives are clearly stated so they understand why they are participating in the training. Make sure that they know what’s in it for them.
- Practicality is Key – Make sure that the examples used are real and something they can relate to. Using a test case that has no practical application to an adult’s job will not help you achieve your goals.
- Respect Is Crucial – Adults are not children and do not expect to be treated as such. The facilitator needs to take a genuine interest in what they are saying, not interrupt them and acknowledge the experience they bring to the room.
We Are Always on The Path of Learning
All of us are trainers whether our title says we are or not. Whether you train staff as part of your job or someone at the office asks you a question, and you show them how to do something – this is training. In my position at ISB Global Services, as the Director of Client Services for the Making Eligibility Easy (MEE) Commercial Driver Qualification Services division, I take on the role of a facilitator regularly. This can be as simple as explaining some of the benefits that ISB has to offer or onboarding a new customer and showing them how to navigate the MEE Commercial Driver Qualification system. We are always training in one way or another.
Please remember some of these simple tips when working with your peers. Understanding the principals of adult education can really help when trying to work through a process and help someone.