Just recently I had a young trainer (tenure, not age) rationalize a training behavior he uses that is counter to adult learning theory. This is not the first time I’ve heard a trainer rationalize poor training technique. Let me give you some examples.
- I go through the material so fast because I used to teach in public schools and between managing child behavior and covering what the state mandates, I had to just spill the information.
- I don’t believe in visual aids. I describe things well enough, besides it’s all right there in their manuals and that’s a visual aid.
- This stuff is so elementary – it’s common sense. Why is this a four-hour training? I can get through this in two hours.
- I do this training different every time – it still doesn’t feel right (or – to keep it fresh!)
All these statements come from trainers not wanting to move out of their comfort zones.
Adult learning theories, such as learning styles, multiple intelligences, etc., provide techniques to meet the learning needs of all types of learners. And just in case you’re wondering, these theories are not just one person’s musings. These theories are from highly regarded and respected professionals, based on experience, research, and analysis.
Most learning theory attempts to offer strategies for a well-rounded learning experience for the participants. Well rounded in that you’re meeting the needs of any population in your audience, not just the population with learning needs like yours.
Ah – therein lies the rub. You, the trainer, have learning needs just like everyone else. New trainers will often train to their own needs, a.k.a. their comfort zone. And that’s ok – initially. As trainers gain experience and expertise, they should be moving out of their own teaching and learning style to meet the needs of other learning styles. For example, just because you’re an extravert doesn’t mean all of your training should be experiential and just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean all of your training should be conceptual.
My advice? Listen to what you say about your own training behavior. If what you say is contrary to adult learning theory and you don’t attempt to change your behavior – you’ve rationalized your poor performance and are stuck in your comfort zone.
What if you don’t know if your classroom techniques are contrary to adult learning theory? Educate yourself – after all, you are a training professional.