Tip #213: Principles Supporting the Learning Facilitator Model

The Learning Facilitator educational model is derived from adult learning principles that brain studies have proven to increase the likelihood of learning and retention. Contemporary adult learning principles are drawn from the work of Malcolm Knowles, who is considered to be the father of adult learning. His work was a significant factor in reorienting adult educators from “educating people”to “helping them learn.”

Here are four key adult learning principles:

1. Focus on Key Information
Brain studies have revealed that adults can learn approximately 5 new things within a training segment if those things are familiar and meaningful. If the new items to be learned are unfamiliar, adults can learn only 2-3 of them at a time.

The training segment may be 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour or more. It depends upon the complexity of the items to be learned.

This is why it is so important to limit the amount of information taught at one time, as well as to ensure that it is as meaningful as possible. Teach only what is essential to achieving the learning goals.

A task analysis will identify the essential learning that must occur during a training session. The task analysis is used to create the specific, observable and measurable learning objectives. These learning objectives identify what the learners will do to learn and to demonstrate their learning.

2. Meet the Needs of Different Learning Styles
Just as brain studies have shown that individuals have different personality types, they have also revealed that people learn differently. One of the simplest models identifies three different learning styles: aural, visual, and kinesthetic. The aural learner learns best by listening. The visual learner learns best by seeing. The kinesthetic learner learns best by moving.

That is why a training program must have a variety of learning activities that are rich enough to simultaneously meet the needs of all three learning styles. A workbook in which the learners can write, audiovisuals that highlight or exemplify key points, active discussions in which the learners move to work with one another or write on a flipchart or pop out of their chairs to answer a question, or hands on activities that provide application practice- will all ensure the different learning style needs are met.

3. Teach the Rule and Its Exceptions at Different Times
In addition, brain studies have determined that teaching a rule with its exception at the same time nullifies learning either the rule or the exception. It is necessary to teach the rule and make sure it has been firmly learned before ever mentioning exceptions.

4. Give Regular Breaks
Brain studies have also revealed that adult brains become saturated after approximately 50 minutes. Adults need at least 10 minutes to relax and absorb what they have learned before they begin the next training segment.

This is why it is so important to take regularly scheduled breaks every 50 minutes. Otherwise, the adult brain will become fatigued and overloaded, limiting learning and retention.

Another reason to give breaks is that the prime time for learning occurs at the very beginning and ending of every training segment. Each time a break is given, it increases the amount of prime learning time.

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