The Principles of Learning

These principles were defined by Malcolm Knowles. He was troubled by the fact that many people who had dropped out of school and returned to it after kicking around in the big world for a while, dropped out again. He studied these adult learners and used the title The Principles of Adult Learning to express his findings, but it is easy to see that the principles apply to learners of all ages.

The Principles of Learning
People learn best when:

  • they are treated with respect as self-directing persons
  • the learning situation is related to their past experiences
  • they have participated in the planning of the learning activity and set their goals
  • they are physically comfortable and can socialize with those in the learning group
  • they are with their peers, freely learning in groups
  • there are opportunities for a variety of learning activities
  • in a problem-centered situation where a question needs resolving or a task needs doing
  • they see progress, immediate results and some rewards for the time they put into learning
  • they evaluate themselves.