Adult Learning Principles

The Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers program relies heavily on adult learning principles, the proven practices for maximizing adult learning pioneered by Malcolm Knowles. Faculty is most effective when they are familiar with, respect, and create a learning environment that brings these principles to life. According to the principles, adult learning should be:

  • Student-centered: Learning primarily flows from, rather than to, the learner.
  • Interactive: Content is presented in a way that includes discussion and involvement.
  • Safe: Trust and safety is fostered in the learning environment.
  • Experience-driven: Teaching strategies help adult learners connect new theories and concepts to known concepts and experiences.
  • Peer-enhanced: Substantial peer-to-peer learning allows adult learners to work together to analyze cases, solve problems, generate solutions, discuss options, etc.
  • Practical: Learning includes real-life experiences shared by the faculty and learners and reinforced by a theory or conceptual framework.