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Adult Learning Theory

ICF employs Adult Learning Theory in all of its professional development and staff training programs to motivate participants and build organizational capacity for clients.

Adult Learning Theory recognizes that adults, unlike children, need to see the practical application of lessons in order to translate training into improved job performance. From academies to webinars to self-directed learning, ICF incorporates Adult Learning Theory into our training programs with concrete, problem-centered lessons that relate directly to day-to-day workplace activities.

Studies show that application of Adult Learning principles increases motivation in training and technical assistance participants before, during, and after training. Based on a foundation of rigorous research and evidence-based technical assistance, ICF delivers Adult Learning Theory grounded in the following core principles:

  • Curricula must be based in practical, not theoretical lessons, and translate to the real world.
  • Professional development must involve peer support and an environment that encourages participation.
  • Adult learners must have the opportunity to put lessons into practice on-site.
  • Ongoing support and coaching must be provided to ensure lessons learned become habit.

By incorporating Adult Learning Theory into materials, speaker presentations, team-building activities, and post-training evaluations, ICF helps client organizations move employee participants beyond passive learning to application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. We also work with them to create an action plan that is directly applicable to their workplace for sustainable success and improvement.

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