5 Steps to Adult Learning

5 Steps to Adult Learning

It’s true, we never stop learning. And as an owner of a tree care company, you have to make sure your employees continually learn. Think about how many different things your employees need to know to work safely. Ensuring your employees have a strong understanding of everything that goes into that, is one of the most important obligations you have as the owner.

But the thing is, not everyone learns the same way.

In early March, I attended the Certified Tree Safety Professional (CTSP) workshop in Lisle, IL. For those of you who have gone through this program, you know it doesn’t just hone in on the technical side of safety in the tree care world. In fact, the majority of the first day was spent on how employees learn so that we can get our messages/lessons across more efficiently.

As employers, you are responsible for many different types of learners. Some may prefer hands on, some may be visual, some may even prefer lecture. To make sure you cater to all types of learners, I’ve highlighted the Five Steps to Adult Learning below:

The Set-Up: This piece is where you introduce the purpose of the activity. I.e. laying out the ground rules. You’ll want to explain the “why” for what you are teaching, and give your employees a good understanding of the process that goes along with it.

Participation: Once you’ve explained to your employees why and how to do something, have them participate in the activity. If it is more on the mental side, such as “How to have a safety conscious mindset” be sure to use specific scenarios and ask open ended questions as you work through it. If it is something like chipper safety, demonstrate the activity, properly covering all the steps, then have your employee go through the same procedure with a supervisor watching over them.

Interpretation: 80% of the material we learn is forgotten within 24 hours. Addressing the main points of the activity and remembering each step will help reiterate the lesson. Below are some questions that can help employees review and relate what they just learned.

What were the key points of the activity?
What were the easiest/most difficult pieces?
Would you do anything differently?

Identify The Concept: By the age of 18-21, most will be able to identify their sense of “self”, ultimately recognizing how they learn best based on what has worked in the past. Relating the activity to past experiences will allow the lesson to piggyback on concepts your employee already understands. Here are some questions to help with that:

Where else have you seen these concepts?
Name another activity you can utilize the steps in.
Which steps were new? What did you already know?

Apply: It is important your employees understand why and when to apply what they’ve been taught. Re-visit the why, and ask some of the following questions to ensure your employees will utilize the concepts when they need to.

When will you use this approach in the field?
What are some scenarios that may make this approach more difficult? How will you prepare?
Explain the process to a team member(teaching helps the learning process)
One of my biggest takeaways from the class was the importance of asking open ended questions. Doing so gives your employees the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and express any concerns along the way. I know many of the safety meetings may come about after seeing something in the field, so choose a couple of questions that work for you, and utilize them when you see things pop up. And no matter how much experience an employee may have, critical steps in processes can often be overlooked or forgotten. Consider taking a seasoned vet vs a well trained newbie and comparing the differences. Could be an interesting outcome!

If you have any more questions or interest in getting help with your safety program/committee, feel free to reach out. Be safe!

Written by: Malcolm Jeffris, CTSP