Understanding How Adult Learners Like to Learn

balibisa Bali Bisa

Most of the students that come to Bali BISA are Adult Learners.  Being an Adult learner myself I have a good understanding of how and what motivates me to learn.

Having developed online courses for Bali BISA has been very interesting.  Adapting our class room courses to work as well on-line has been a learning journey for me. I hope you enjoy reading this blog.

Adults due to life experiences, work and family commitments are likely to have the following characteristics (maybe not all) self-confident, decision-makers, mature, independent, practical, able to multi-task, are self-directed.  Possibly less open-minded and willing to change.

With these characteristics it is important for us as tutors to ensure we create the right course content and structure, for our adult learners.

Below are methods we use when teaching our adult learners both in the classroom setting and our online courses.

Adult Learners’ Individualities

 like to take responsibility for their lives and decisions and this is why it’s important for us to have control over our learning. We like self-assessment, a peer relationship with the instructor, having several options. We need support at the beginning of a course, then usually we are happy to get on with it with maybe a few questions. 

Practical and results-oriented
Adult learners
 are usually practical. We prefer practical knowledge that will improve our skills, facilitate our work and boost our confidence. We tend to resent theory (even though we need it) When creating a course it is important to cover our individual needs and have a more hands-on content.

Less open-minded we may be resistant to change?
Maturity and life experiences may lead to inflexibility, which may make learning more difficult. We always tend to explain why to adult learners.

Slower learning, we as adults like the holistic approach to learning

Adults may learn less quickly with age. We enjoy mixing up how we learn hence the holistic approach.  We like to research for ourselves which gives us a deeper understanding of the content we are learning.

As Adults we come with a wealth of personal experience.
We are able to use our past experiences (prior learning.) when learning something new. This is known as taking into account prior learning.


Motivation Adults learners we may be learning something new because we have an interest, for fun, to improve our skills, changing our job path. As this is a personal choice we are already motivated to learn.

Multi-level responsibilities

Adult learners have a lot to juggle; family, friends, work, and the need for personal quality time. This is why it’s more difficult for an adult to make room for learning, while it’s absolutely crucial to prioritize. If our lives are already demanding, then the learning outcome may be compromised. The beauty of online courses is the flexibility and work at your own pace

High expectations
Adult learners
 have high expectations. We want to be taught about things that will be useful to us (depending on the subject we have chosen we expect to have immediate results, meets our expectations and is value for money.


What other characteristics of adult learners would you like to add?

Penny Ellis
Bali International Spa Academy