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The characteristics of adult learners and the principles of adult education theory were identified in 1984 by an American educator, Malcolm Shepherd Knowles (1913-1997).

Using the principles of adult education theory identified by Knowles helps to provide effective training that meets the unique needs of your adult audience. Adult education improves individual knowledge and skills. This in turn can improve organizational performance, as learners apply this knowledge directly to their work.

The following infographic lists the four principles of adult education theory, the four principles of Knowles' Andragogy:

  • adults should be involved in the planning and evaluation of their education;
  • experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities;
  • adults are more interested in learning subjects that have an immediate relevance and impact on their work or personal life;
  • adult learning is focused on problems rather than content.

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