Who are adult learners? Experienced professionals who want to develop new, or refine old, skills.

Someone with five years of work experience in engineering can get an MBA degree and move to a managerial role. A doctor can quit their profession to become a language teacher. A CEO can sell their business and go back to being an employee. 

The world is changing. Today, nothing is set in stone. Academic qualifications and work experience are evolving and they’re diverse. People have multiple university degrees in unrelated subjects. They go online and upskill, learning all kinds of new things—digital media marketing, programming languages or even customer psychology. Adult learners have become the norm. 

But how can organizations or institutions keep learners motivated? Read on to discover what motivates adult learners!


  1. How To Motivate Adult Learners

  2. Harappa’s Flagship Programs For Adult Learners

How To Motivate Adult Learners


Organizations encourage their employees to learn, build their skills and improve the quality of their work. But what’s important is keeping them motivated. Motivating adult learners can be a difficult task. There are more distractions today, than ever—social media, streaming platforms and the news being just a few.

Adult learners have plenty to keep them occupied. They need a really good reason to stop what they’re doing and focus on learning. Motivating adult learners can be challenging, but not impossible. Why? Adult learners are self-motivated, agile and inspired. If they take the step to learn, it’s because they want to.

Here are methods for motivating adult learners:


  • Keep It Relevant

Relevant, contextual and experience-based content is what gets the attention of adult learners. Teachers and faculty are responsible for creating content and agendas that speak to the learner’s interests. For instance, a learner with an engineering background will find a module more fulfilling if examples are based on their experience. A writer will find topics related to literature or reading a lot more interesting than, say, accounting.

  • Use Multimodal Learning Formats

Today, classrooms are wired for technological advancements. Teachers don’t just have a blackboard or a whiteboard with chalk or markers for lessons. Multimodal formats like video, audio, visual aid, text and referential notes add to the learning experience. Adult learners are more engaged when educators rely on different platforms to teach. Online presentations, video calls and shared virtual workspaces are the way of the future. 

  • Engage In Conversations

Communicating with adult learners is critical for a successful session. Adult learning isn’t just instructional—it’s conversations, discussions, brainstorming, group work and learner-centric environments. When adult learners have the space to speak their minds, participate in compelling conversations and debate their ideas, they’re more likely to retain information. Learning is enhanced when it’s designed specifically for the learner. 

  • Build Curiosity

Curiosity is what drives us every day. If we weren’t curious, we probably wouldn’t take steps to further our careers or do things we enjoy. Everything from going to work to taking up a new hobby involves curiosity. Adult learners need to be curious and this curiosity needs to be encouraged. Motivating adult learners takes more than just going through notes. It’s important to give them something that’ll pique their interest. This can be a case study as a group project or creating something from scratch.

  • Apply Real-Life Examples With Storytelling

One thing adult learners have is experience. They come from diverse backgrounds with unique qualifications. One may have been a longtime chef, another a marketing mogul. They each have something to bring to the table. Trainers and educators must apply real-life examples with storytelling that learners can relate to. This way they’ll find the lessons and sessions a lot more fulfilling. There should be something in it for them. If they can identify with the module and subject matter, it’ll help them retain knowledge and use it later.

Every person who engages in lifelong learning is an adult learner. School, college or job-specific training aside, learning happens every day—with every interaction, task and initiative.

Alexandre Dumas, the famous French writer, wrote, “One’s work may be finished someday, but one’s education never.” 

Harappa’s Flagship Programs For Adult Learners


Investing in your employees’ growth and development leads to reduced turnover rates and increased job satisfaction. Harappa’s flagship programs are built on our 10 on 10 pedagogical approach rooted in behavioral science. Explore our programs to suit your business needs. From our High Performing Leaders Program to our Placement Success Program, our curated learning pathways equip professionals with must-have Thrive Skills—an essential set of cognitive, social and behavioral skills to help professionals continuously succeed, at every stage of their careers. Enroll your team today to achieve transformative business success!

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Adult Learning Theory, How To Motivate Team, Tips For Self Motivation and Motivation For Work that will help organizations tap into employee potential.

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