Using the Principles of Adult Learning to Enhance Health Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Programming (Issue Brief)
Fatherhood, Relationships, and Marriage – Illuminating the Next Generation of Research (FRAMING Research)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
The five strategies based on adult learning theory that HMRF programs can use to support participants’ engagement and learning are:
- Help participants discover how program content may be relevant to them.
- Leverage program format to support self-direction.
- Build opportunities for participants to practice new skills, both during the program and on their own.
- Create opportunities for participants to reflect on their experiences and beliefs as part of the learning process.
- Create a positive emotional climate.
Many healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood (HMRF) programs find it challenging to keep participants engaged in voluntary workshop sessions and help them achieve their desired outcomes. Adult learning theory highlights several important principles that might help HMRF practitioners strengthen adults’ engagement in learning experiences and mastery of program content. This brief highlights five strategies based on adult learning theory that HMRF program developers and facilitators can use to support participants’ engagement and learning. It also explores specific ways programs can implement these strategies, along with concrete tips and examples. The literature supporting these strategies is described in more detail in a white paper about adult learning theory and how it can be applied to HMRF programs (Alamillo et al. 2021).