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What Effective Educators Know about Adult Motivation

Since adult learners tend to be intrinsically motivated, many educators do not focus on motivating their students. However, effective educators know that this is a necessary and complex task. In fact, it is essential for instructors to use research, experience and insights to foster learners’ motivation.

In this post, we will explore five motivating factors that effective adult educators know based on the findings of Olusegun Agboola Sogunro’s 2014 study, “Motivating Factors for Adult Learners in Higher Education.”

Five Motivating Factors that Adult Educators Know

1. Supportive and Collaborative Learning Environment

Effective educators understand that they must create an atmosphere conducive to learning. They create opportunities for expression, questioning and interaction, such as group discussions and collaborative assignments. By doing this, they foster a sense of belonging, motivating adults to learn with, and from, each other.

2. Relevant Content 

According to Sogunro, “Relevance connects learning with reality.” Adult learners are driven by practical knowledge and skills they can apply to their personal and professional lives. Therefore, proficient educators do not only teach theories but also connect content with real-world scenarios.

3. High Quality and Flexible Instructions and Curricula  

Efficient educators create curricula that adapt to adult learners’ needs and aspirations. Furthermore, their lessons are well-organized and incorporate technology. These instructors also keep learners engaged by using their best attributes, like humor and respect, when teaching.

4. Learners’ Responsibility for Their Learning

Adult educators know their students prefer independent learning. Therefore, they encourage this by providing flexible schedules and various opportunities for their students to choose their activities and assignments.

5. Progressive Assessment and Timely Feedback

Effective educators understand the importance of not only assessing students but also providing prompt and effective feedback. In fact, over 90% of adult learners in Sogunro’s study reported progressive assessments and feedback as motivating factors.

The Takeaway

Effective adult educators understand their learners’ needs, challenges and motivations. With this understanding, they use strategies to keep their students engaged in learning. However, educators must regularly upgrade their skills and knowledge in order to continue being effective learning facilitators.

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