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Professional Partner Content

Don’t Assume Younger Learners Prefer to Learn Differently

“I know what I know.” The older and wiser we become, the more we stick with what we know and what works. And because of our confidence or stubbornness, we like to read articles and research that backs our experience, assumptions, and beliefs. We all have a little belief perseverance, holding on to a set of beliefs in spite of being faced by evidence that proves otherwise. If you are not open to changing your mind, then you can stop reading this blog now.

So, let me show you that what you believe may not be true. Learning professionals have a broad belief that younger people prefer to learn differently. One research study by Wainhouse Research reported, “ILT (classroom) is significantly less preferred by those under age 50.” However, the 2018 Voice of the Learner report showed that classroom was preferred by all age groups. We asked in our survey, “How do you prefer to learn?” And we forced people to make a choice rather than select all. "Learn in a classroom with a group” was chosen the most by all age groups. And yes, older people chose classroom more than the other age groups.

But I would say that younger learners prefer to learn in ways that are not all that different from other generations. All learners want learning that is relevant, applicable to the job, and effective. The goal is to provide learning that meets the needs of all ages of learners. Even if you are not convinced by this data, would you be convinced with data about the effectiveness of classroom training? We also asked people about the effectiveness of corporate classroom training. (Rank the effectiveness of each of the following learning programs/modalities on a scale from 1 to 5 [highly ineffective to highly effective].) The percentage of people who chose effective or highly effective did not differ by age group.

  • Age 53 to 71: 90%
  • Age 41 to 52: 86%
  • Age 22 to 40: 89%

All age groups thought corporate classroom training was effective. Now this data many not change what you believe about young people, but as learning professionals we need to design learning experiences that are preferred and effective. If you are interested in learning more about your learners, then consider a Voice of the Learner survey in your organization. Contact us to help you get started.

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