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Adult Learners

Adult learners bring with them a lifetime of experience and real world skills.  They also bring with them unique barriers to learning. 

Instruction must take into account individual needs and experiences.  Instruction should be: 


  • Adult learners are involved in the learning process and planning.
  • Instruction focuses on what the learner needs to learn for their unique goals.


  • Adult learners practice emerging skills with authentic materials and activities that simulate real-life situations.


  • Identify learning styles, preferences and strengths to engage learners.


  • When one approach doesn’t work, try another.

You must provide training for all volunteer tutors.  Make sure to include adult learning concepts.

Wisconsin Literacy provides more information on adult learning theory in the materials for tutor training that members can access in the Education and Training Section of the Portal of Wisconsin Literacy’s website at: