The Adult Learner

Today adult learners expect more from their training. We all want on-demand, personalized, and engaging instruction whether it is for personal use or in the workplace. The challenge is how best to create instruction for a topic that may be used by an audience with diverse experience and knowledge. Taking time to understand the learner is the first step in designing effective and personalized instruction. One way to accomplish this task is to conduct a learner journey mapping exercise by asking the following questions (Popescu, 2019):

Who is the learner? What do they need to know? When will they use the information and why does it matter to them?

Answers to these questions will guide the instructional design in building content (Popescu, 2019). Regardless of the instructional model used, analyzing and understanding the audience is paramount. Delivering instruction that is well thought out with the learner in the center of the design will help the participant feel engaged in their own training.

Today, face-to-face instruction is a luxury as time is an expensive commodity and in response organizations are becoming more flexible in how they deliver learning to their employees and clients. Learners want to engage “where they are” and want the freedom to learn at their own pace and when it it is convenient for them. Most personnel are constantly challenged with keeping up with the latest news and continuing education while improving productivity. Understanding the adult learner and their needs, and which type of training delivery will provide effective instruction in the least amount of time, is one reason instructional design has become essential in creating and delivering quality training.


Popescu, A. (2019, July 16). Leveraging Personalized Learning to Increase Member Engagement. Retrieved from Association for Talent Development:

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