Select Page


As you develop an approach to training your operators, it is important to remember that adults have different motivations than children or adolescents. Being aware of these differences and making adjustments to your training approach will make your operator training much more effective.

Andragogy is the method and practice of teaching adult learners. After studying the theory of adult education, Malcolm Knowles combined his research with andragogy and developed six assumptions related to adult learning:

  1. Tell them the Why.  It isn’t enough to tell an adult that something has to be done a particular way – they also need to know why it is important.
  2. Motivation.  Adults are motivated both externally (promotions, higher salaries, etc.) and internally (increased knowledge or self-esteem). Awareness of these motivators can augment the learning process.
  3. Self-concept.  They need to be treated like they are capable of learning and have the ability to direct their learning.  This means giving them freedom to identify areas of weakness that require further study.
  4. Respect prior experience.  Adults have different experiences that they will bring into their new workplace or position.  Try to draw out these experiences to use as a foundation for current training.
  5. Readiness. Motivation is much greater when focused on subjects they will encounter in either their work or personal lives. The days of learning Advanced Linear Algebra have passed (one would hope).
  6. Orientation. Learning should be based on problems that will be faced instead of theoretical issues.  The student will ask how this knowledge will solve a problem.  If a sufficient answer can’t be found, the motivation may be lost.

So, as you begin training your operators, try to keep these assumptions in mind.  As training material is developed, ensure that it contains information that is pertinent to the task they are being trained to do. Use job specific examples that can be easily applied. And remember to include why the training is important.  The more mindful you are of these assumptions, the more effective the training will be.  And that will in turn have the desired affect.

For more practical tips for manufacturing professionals to attract, train and retain your hourly workforce, go to