Learning and Adult Learning Difference

In a constantly changing world, every person needs to be educated in accordance with the requirements of modern life. The learning process does not end by a certain age or by achieving a certain degree. People can obtain new information from school, special training, news, or social contact with other people. Learning benefits every person in day-to-day and professional life; however, learning has multiple aspects that affect its efficiency in work-related training.

Learning and Transfer of Training

Crucial aspects of being a professional are continuous learning and improving skills to perform a job better. Learning can be defined as changes regarding a person’s knowledge and skills, thinking and acting (Noe, 2017). Learning has to have certain outcomes required to improve job performance. Those outcomes include specialized knowledge, problem-solving skills, motor skills, ability to manage the thinking process, and overall job satisfaction (Noe, 2017). Learning has to be consistent and have specific results applicable to a certain kind of work.

For learning to be efficient, there has to be an organized process of learning which can be divided in multiple phases. The first two processes of learning refer to informing the trainee on the objectives and outcomes of learning (Noe, 2017). The next three processes aim to limit the amount to be learned, guide through learning, and provide more detailed practical information (Noe, 2017). The last three processes of learning refer to recalling the new material to apply it to different situations and receiving feedback (Noe, 2017). The process of learning can also be shown as a cycle with different stages. At first, a trainee encounters a work problem which they have to analyze by thinking of ways to solve it and, eventually, finding the best practical solution to the problem (Noe, 2017). These processes of learning are interconnected and required in every training for long-term results.

The most important part of every learning process is the purpose, which aims to help employees do their job better. Employees must understand the final result and learning outcomes since they learn best when they know the purpose (Noe, 2017). Specific purposes can be different depending on many factors, such as place of work or job experience. However, the common purpose of learning is to become more competent, efficient, and better prepared for solving problems in the future.

Learning is closely related to the transfer of training since it shows the efficiency of the learning process. Transfer of training refers to the ability of the employees to apply new knowledge to their jobs (Noe, 2017). During training, employees have to work on tasks similar to the tasks they perform at their jobs; otherwise, the transfer would be difficult, and learning would not be efficient (Noe, 2017). Transfer of training may encounter obstacles at a workplace; therefore, they should be considered before the process of learning. Those obstacles include peers discouraging the trained employee from using new knowledge, the upper management not supporting new ideas, and other employees not giving feedback on the new work methods. Transfer of training helps to use new knowledge to complete familiar tasks at work, reduce routine, and focus on more important problems.

Adult Learning

Training employees may be a complicated process since they are experienced adults, and most of the teaching techniques are aimed at children at schools and young adults at universities. As opposed to limitations of formal education techniques, adult learning is described by the term andragogy (Noe, 2017). Andragogy principles state that learning is primarily social and is motivated by the desire to be accepted by knowing why they are learning and putting the knowledge into beneficial practice (Hurt, 2010). The principals say that adult learning has to be closely related to people’s work considering their previous knowledge and experiences (Hurt, 2010). Adult learning aims to find and use best practices at teaching adults who are the main driving force of society.

Adult learning is important in increasing the competence of professionals in different spheres. Research shows that adult learning can be beneficial in achieving the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (Schreiber-Barsch & Mauch, 2019). Adult learning primarily helps in achieving target 4.7 of the SDGs by teaching adults to promote sustainable development (Schreiber-Barsch & Mauch, 2019). However, adult learning is considered as “one of the least institutionalized” sectors of education, which shows that it requires more attention (Schreiber-Barsch & Mauch, 2019, p. 23). Achieving Sustainable Development Goals requires the development of real-world training as working adults are the ones who have more opportunities to complete the goals.


Learning is a crucial part of every person’s life at any moment of it. Children learn the basics of life at school, and young adults learn the basics of a profession at universities. However, the learning process continuous in adulthood, and adults have to be able to get training to improve their knowledge by practicing new ways to solve problems. Moreover, adults do not think the way children do; they perceive and analyze information differently, which means that they should also be taught differently. As the development of the world brings out new challenges, adult learning has to become more applicable in the training process to lead society to prosperity.


Hurt, J. (2010). 14 adult learning principles to combat the conference learning crisis. Velvet Chainsaw.

Noe, R. A. (2017). Employee training and development (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Schreiber-Barsch, S., & Mauch, W. (2019). Adult learning and education as a response to global challenges: Fostering agents of social transformation and sustainability. International Review of Education, 65(4), 515-536.

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