With billionaires currently traveling to space, it’s only fitting that we talk about how it’s never too late for us to achieve our dreams. 

During the pandemic, many people evaluated their life choices and decisions. They contemplated where they stood—personally and professionally. Some decided to quit their jobs and start learning, while others chose to work instead. Either way, there was upskilling, relearning and unlearning involved. Adult learning has seen a boom in recent times.

Adult learning is when experienced professionals or contributors pursue skill-based or interest-based learning. This can comprise anything from skill development and language learning to building new abilities. How adults learn varies on the goals, objectives and training methods.

Discover adult learning concepts and examples of adult learning theories to identify what works for various cohorts.


  1. What Is Adult Learning Theory?

  2. Specialized Cohort-Based Learning At Harappa

What Is Adult Learning Theory?


Adult learning theories refer to the techniques, practices and assessments that make up an adult learning session. How facilitators decide to run their classrooms, how conversational, practical or theoretical it is and whether it’s self-motivated or guided determine adult learning concepts.

Here are common adult learning concepts:

  • Experiential Learning

David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle refers to learning from experience. Based on our concrete experiences, we reflect, ideate and plan to improve for future tasks and projects. Each experience teaches us something new. In case a learner makes a mistake, they think about it, reflect on it and then learn from it. This helps them come up with better ways to tackle a similar situation in the future. Experiential learning can be understood in terms of on-the-job training. Employees may learn skills such as communication, project management and collaboration while on the job. These aren’t taught, but are picked up over time.

  • Self-Directed Learning

Adult learners engage heavily in self-directed learning. This is where they might enroll for an online course or program. They may reach out to their mentors for guidance on how to become better professionals. Self-directed learning stems from self-motivation and agility. There’s an interest in learning something new and acquiring knowledge. Learners are inspired to set their goals, create timelines and make plans for how to approach a subject or a lesson. They can assess when they have time based on their schedules. Self-paced learning is ideal for self-directed learners.

  • Project-Based Learning

Action-oriented learning helps learners tackle a problem head-on and come up with viable and creative solutions. Using real-life examples and relevant topics, learners are kept engaged and curious. They’re eager to deal with the problem at hand and find solutions. Some projects may be of interest to them while others might prefer something better suited to their needs. Project-based learning gives learners a chance to study what they want in a mediated and goal-based setting. It’s similar to adult learning theories that involve simulations and role play.

  • Andragogy

Andragogy simply means ‘adult learning’. When adults, not children, pursue education or want to learn, it’s called andragogy. This theory examines how adult learners are different from younger students. What drives adult learning is self-motivation, specific goals and the ability and confidence to make their own decisions. Learners need to know why they’re learning something in particular. They have a clear idea of how they’ll use their learnings in their personal or professional lives.

  • Transformative Learning

Each person has certain limiting beliefs that shape the way they think. This can be due to cultural factors or a difference in outlook. Adult learning theories comprising transformative learning take a somewhat radical approach to adult learning. They encourage learning about different cultures, religions and contexts. Learners find themselves in unfamiliar territory with a willingness to learn about the ways of the world. Their beliefs and values are challenged in a way that helps them become more well-rounded with a broader perspective.

Adult learning theories help facilitators and educators understand the best ways to motivate adult learners. There’s a compelling need for value-based learning that leads to improved outcomes in a professional setting. With adult learning theories, organizations can build a robust and powerful workforce to tackle modern challenges. 

Specialized Cohort-Based Learning At Harappa


Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old—whether this happens at twenty or at eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young but becomes constantly more valuable—regardless of physical capacity.”

At Harappa, we believe in the power of lifelong learning. Help your organization achieve its goals with our flagship programs built on our 10 on 10 pedagogy that activates, elevates and cultivates talent. Programs such as the High Performing Leaders Program and our Inspiring Faculty Program are geared toward professionals who want to achieve transformative career success. With curated learning journeys for small teams and large cohorts, our flagship programs will equip professionals with a set of must-have Thrive Skills like Client Centricity, Win-Win Negotiations, Embracing Feedback, Precise Writing and Skillful Teamwork. Tell us how we can help your teams drive peak performance!

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Adult Learning Theory, Transformative Learning, Belbin’s Team Roles and Adult Learning Concepts that will help organizations tap into employee potential.

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