Adult Learning Principles and Process in OHS


Guest post by George Robotham from

Facilitating OHS learning is a very important part of an OHS professional’s role but unfortunately many do not have high levels of skills in this area. The Cert. IV T.A.E. is the standard people are judged by. The reality is that this course has a number of limitations and only represents a learner’s permit.

I was not far into my Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) before I realized how inadequate some of my previous education had been and how inadequate some of my previous learning facilitation had been. I decided to sit down and highlight my learning on the B.Ed. The original paper (Abstract below) was the result.


One of the activities we all do in business is "training" others. It is my contention that modern adult learning principles are not practiced frequently or well in general "training" in industry and in consequence the learning experience is not as successful as it could be. This paper explores the characteristics of the adult learner and provides a number of learning principles that must be practiced to maximise learning. The role of critical reflection is explored and it is explained why the traditional lecture is to be avoided. For learning to be effective opportunities for critical reflection must be given via an activity, group discussion, case study, practical exercise etc.

Models of action learning and experiential learning are presented and it is explained why these 2 learning approaches are particularly appropriate for adults.

"Learn a little well" is a motto that must be practiced, in industry the alternate approach is often adopted where trainers only have an audience for a limited time and endeavour to stuff as much into the learners as they can in the time allocated.

The workplace can be a "robust and transferable" environment for learning, the benefits of using the workplace in learning are explored.

Comments on the paper

This paper is 13 pages so I have broken my own rule of being succinct. There is not much structure or flow to it. It will not be just for the casual reader. For the person really interested in improving their facilitation of learning it is stuffed full of both theory and practice suggestions for improving what you do.

Copies of the paper can be obtained from

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