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Top 7 Effective Teaching Methods For Adult Learning

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In the world of continuing vocational education and training, educating adult students is a double edge sword – it’s both challenging and fulfilling. Their unique life experiences and skills shape the way they process new information. And as a trainer, teaching approaches can make or break the learning experience for your students. The key is finding the right method that keeps learners engaged, helps them retain information, and drives success. With the right approach, transferring knowledge to your audience can be easier than you think.

But what is the right approach? Here are the top 7 effective teaching methods for adult learning:

Active Learning

If you’re a seasoned trainer, you might have come across students who nod off during classes more times than often. Active learning can be a great way to spice up your teaching. A hands-on approach, it gets learners engaged in the learning process by encouraging critical thinking and real-world application, students stay alert and retain more knowledge. Case studies, role-playing exercises, and group projects are great active learning methods. Not only will you keep your learners on their toes, but you’ll also create a fun and collaborative learning environment that everyone will enjoy.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a teaching method that puts knowledge into practice. From simulations to field trips to problem-based learning, there are endless ways to create meaningful experiences that stick. Studies have shown that experiential learning can improve retention rates and increase engagement, making it a desirable approach for trainers in continuing vocational education and training looking to engage their learners. 

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is a teaching method that involves working in groups to achieve a common goal. By working in groups to tackle shared goals, learners can develop teamwork skills, exchange ideas, and learn from one another. Collaborative learning has been shown to improve soft skills such as critical thinking and communication. Consider using group discussions, peer review, or team-based projects in your training to encourage collaborative learning. 

Self-Directed Learning

Learning is a lifelong journey – or so we’re told. But have you considered empowering your students to take control of their own learning? By setting personal goals, creating learning plans, and reflecting on outcomes, students can take ownership of their progress and achieve their full potential. Start with equipping your students with the right tools. Self-assessment tools, goal-setting exercises, and reflective writing prompts are just a few examples of how you can foster self-directed learning.

Flipped Classroom

The traditional classroom can feel a little bit stale. Consider changing things up and making learning more engaging with a flipped classroom – a revolutionary teaching method that puts learners at the centre of the learning experience. Instead of lectures and note-taking, learners are given access to instructional material before class. To incorporate the flipped classroom in your teaching, there are plenty of tools and resources to help you get started. For instance, pre-recorded videos are a great way to deliver instructional content, and learners can watch them at any time and as many times as they need. 

Problem-Based Learning

 Traditional teaching methods might leave your classroom uninspired. Consider incorporating problem-based learning into your training lessons. This innovative teaching approach challenges students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems, fostering critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. By using case studies, simulations, and project-based learning, you can create an interactive and dynamic learning experience that prepares your learners for the challenges of the modern workforce. 

Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning is a teaching method that uses games to teach new concepts and skills.  Considering the growing numbers of learners from Gen Z, game-based learning is an engaging way to learn and can increase motivation and retention. To incorporate game-based learning in your own teaching, consider using gamified quizzes and simulations. If you need more guidance, Elm Magazine suggested a few other examples that can inspire you.


Guidelines to Consider

 Effective teaching methods can make a significant difference in the learning outcomes and satisfaction of your students. Here are some guidelines to consider before selecting a teaching method:

Set clear learning objectives and goals

Having no clear directions can be pretty demotivating for both educators and students. That’s where clear learning objectives and goals come in. When you have a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished, it can increase your motivation and help you focus on the most important information. One great way to do this is to include a moment at the beginning of the lesson to brief learners on the learning objectives.

Provide feedback 

Being a learner without feedback or support can often be disheartening to not know how you’re progressing or what you need to improve. In fact, constructive feedback inspires growth. According to Gallup, adults are 3.6 times more likely to be motivated when they’re presented with daily feedback. You can try offering interactive quizzes or assessments that give instant feedback or having one-on-one coaching sessions to cater to individual learning needs. This way, learners are provided with directions and feel empowered to take charge of their own progress and success.

Be Creative 

Learning doesn’t have to be black and white, it can be exciting and engaging with the right mix of instructional materials and technologies. Be creative in your delivery by incorporating text, visuals, audio, and interactive elements. These can keep your audience engaged and help them absorb information more easily. Plus, with new technologies like virtual and augmented reality, the possibilities are endless. 


By now, it’s clear that learning is an ever-evolving and personalised process that demands trainers to be creative and adaptable in their teaching styles. Regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, there’s really no magic formula that suits all and trainers need to be open to combining and testing diverse teaching techniques to cater to their learners’ varying needs. Whether it’s through hands-on learning, gamified lessons, or real-life projects, the key is to remain receptive and try out fresh approaches to determine what resonates best with your students.

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