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Upping the ROI on Adult Learning


Jody Barto

Date Published

Sep 25, 2023
5 minute read
Adult Learning

Workforce training can be an invaluable experience for employees. Whether it’s leveling up on technical know-how, leadership development, or interpersonal skills, people at every stage of their careers benefit from ongoing learning. But as a leader, how do you know if the training you’re investing in will lead to learning transfer on the job?

According to TC’s Jody Barto, designing training with the specific needs of adult learners in mind is key. Holding that “people-first” mindset increases the return on your training investment and better prepares your people to tackle the challenges of the workplace.

As an expert in the design and facilitation of learning and development programs, Jody combines her consulting experience with an Ed.D. in Adult Learning & Leadership from Columbia University, Teachers College to create training experiences for The Clearing’s clients that are highly engaging, meaningful, and impactful to solving complex, real-world problems.  These objectives help ensure every training provides the conditions to support the transfer of learning on the job. Below, Jody describes some of the tenets our training courses are built on and why they matter for adult learners.

What Great Trainings Are Built On

To achieve a return on investment from training initiatives, we design and facilitate interactive and experiential training programs that support adult learners to gain meaningful insights they can effectively apply on the job to produce results for their teams and organizations.

Here are some of the key design and facilitation considerations The Clearing takes into account for each of its training and learning initiatives:

  1. One size does not fit all. Adult learners are in different places in their lives and careers, which means we cannot expect everyone to come to the same takeaways from training. Through active, learner-centered design and facilitation approaches, we meet learners where they are to support their development to the next level.
  2. Focus on fostering learning experiences vs. content delivery. We focus content delivery on what is critical for learning. Each training integrates space for reflection and interactive exercises that promote peer learning and application to relevant, real-life problems.
  3. Adults learn by making meaningful connections between new concepts and their prior knowledge and experiences. To effectively enable this process, we balance sharing relevant scenarios with making room for learners to share their own application contexts. Allowing learners to reach their own conclusions about how the learning applies to them increases their motivation to take action to apply their learning back on the job.
  4. Understand the role of experience in adult learning. Some prior experiences support learning, while others create barriers. We create a psychologically safe and inclusive learning environment to provide the support and challenges necessary to encourage learners and help them address attitudes and habits that will no longer serve them going forward.
  5. Learning only begins in the classroom. Once training is over, there are many barriers to applying what you have learned when you’re back on the job. We support learners to mitigate and overcome these barriers by providing options for learning support, including job aids, action planning, and follow-on coaching.

We’ve found that no matter the topic – hard skills or soft skills – following these principles creates a more impactful experience for learners. Learning transfer is what drives the return for you, as a leader, and your organization. As you prepare your organization for 2024, consider whether there are skills you can help your team build now to maximize effectiveness over the next year.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you The Clearing’s Training Catalog is a great place to start – and if you have any questions or are ready to build a “one-size-doesn’t-fit-all” training experience for your team, contact us any time here.