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Adul Learning Series

How can life experiences aid in the way we learn and process information?  As helping professionals many of us “learn from doing” or learn from experience. Did you know that learning from experience is a key principle of adult learning? Malcolm Knowles, the pioneer of adult learning, identified four principles to adult learning: (1) Autonomous and Self-Directed, (2) Life Experiences and Knowledge, (3) Goal-Oriented and Relevancy-Oriented and (4) Practical.

Last month we identified principle (1) Autonomous and Self-Directed and provided strategies for military service providers  who’s clientele prefers to be actively involved in learning and working around personal goals and interests. This month our focus shifts to principle (2) Life Experiences and Knowledge.

Life Experiences and Knowledge

Adults often bring their life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences. This could include family responsibilities, work-related activities as well as previous education.

As a service provider, when providing education and training to military families try to ask the individuals about their life experiences, part-time work, family commitments, schools or university experiences thus far, hobbies and leisure activities. Help your families connect their learning with their life experiences and previous knowledge. One way you could do this is to present a scenario and ask them if they have every experienced anything similar. By having your families connect to their personal experiences and knowledge you are encouraging a better connection to the topic, lesson, or idea you are teaching them.

Over the course of the next few months the OneOp Military Caregiving concentration will be discussing the remaining two principles of adult learning, as well as adult learning styles. If you missed our first post in this series covering Autonomy and Self-Direction, you can find it in our Adult Learning Series homepage. Our goal with this series is to provide service providers working with adults with a better understanding of how adults learn.


This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on August 12, 2016.