Adult Learning Styles



Date of Publication
February, 2013

Sitting through a presentation or training can be difficult, but every now and then there is one that just works. You are excited, engaged, and alert! You care! You want to be there!

What separates the wheat from the chaff? What made that training matter to you? If it mattered to others in the room as well, it is very likely the trainer's methods were informed by understanding adult learning styles.

Adults have specific needs around learning. We want to know what is in it for us, and how we are spending our valuable time. We want the material to have some relevance for our life, and we want control over how we learn it. Beyond self interest and self direction lies how we actually process the information.

  • Visual learners: you know who you are, and you are probably quite happy reading this tip, but wish it had a chart with it, and maybe a graph or 3.
  • Auditory learners: if your lips move silently while reading, it's okay. Auditory learners process information best when it is spoken or heard.
  • Kinesthetic learners: pen disassembly is a favorite pastime in trainings for kinesthetic learners. These folks thrive on activities and manipulating information physically.

Trainings are not the only time we are learning. Behavior change and leadership development are part of any prevention activity, even a meeting of stakeholders or community partners. Adult learning styles are a way to stay dynamic, keep people awake, and communicate the ideas of prevention.

Resources on WCSAP

  • The WCSAP e-Learning Center has a variety of online courses you can take at your own pace. Try the Adult Learning Styles module!