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close this bookTeacher Training: a Reference Manual (Peace Corps, 1986, 176 p.)
close this folderChapter 1 what a teacher trainer needs to know
close this folderAdult learning
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAndragogy vs. pedagogy
View the documentPersonal learning styles
View the documentMotivation


Motivation is an important part of an adult's ability to learn. Environmental distractions, unmet needs, and personal trauma can divert the learner's attention from the task at hand. Prepared trainers should be able to recognize levels of learner motivation and be ready to adjust their training programs accordingly. Abraham Maslow, a renowned theorist in the field of humanistic psychology, is often cited when discussing the dynamics of human motivation. Maslow suggests that human needs form a hierarchy that can be visualized as a stack of dependent layers; one need level is unattainable until the lower level need is met.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs


Develop to fullest potential; strong sense of individuality.

Respect and liking for self and others.

Membership, acceptance, belonging, feeling loved and wanted.

Protection from physical or psychological threat, need for order and structure.

Food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

It is important to note that each need level does not become a major factor in motivation until the lower levels of needs have been satisfied. An individual's position in the hierarchy may change from hour to hour, day to day, or year to year. The learner who has had no breakfast may be biding his/her time to get to the lunch hour, and be wholly uninterested in expending intellectual energy. In fact, some individuals may never reach the highest levels of this hierarchy. As a trainer, if you are able to recognize in which level of this hierarchy the learners are operating in at any given time, you will be better prepared to respond to training problems that stem directly from motivation and needs.


1. Consider a content area or subject which you are familiar with. Outline a lesson plan for teaching that topic to a group of children and then, using the same topic, redesign the lesson to be taught to a group of adults. Check to see if you have addressed each of the four concepts of andragogy in your new design. (See Chapter 2, Lesson Planning)

2. Review the learning styles above. Identify your personal learning style. Now answer the following questions: Which axes of the learning process are your weakest? Which type of learning situation would support your style? What kind of learning situation would be the greatest challenge? How does your preferred learning style affect your teaching/training, and how can you adjust this affect?

3. Review Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Reflect on your needs as they change: a. throughout a day b. throughout a month c. throughout an important year in your life

How do these changes affect your willingness and motivation to participate in learning experiences.


Ingalla, John D. A Trainers Guide to Andragogy Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. May, 1973.

Knowles, Malcolm. The Modern Practice of Adult Education.

Maguire, Pat. Training of Trainers Workshop. Lome, Togo: US Peace Corps, Regional Training Resources Office, 1980.

McCarthy, B. The 4Mat System - Teaching to Learning Styles with Right/Left Mode Techniques. Barrington, IL: Excel, 1980.