Ways CME Directors Can Leverage Adult Learning Theory

leverage adult learning theory

Do you know if your CME program is doing well? If it’s on the mark, then you've hit the ball right out of the park with a home run.


But what happens if it doesn't? You’ve struck out, and you’re left with learners who are uninspired, bored, and don't earn their CME credits because they simply leave your courses and go elsewhere. There’s something amiss, and it’s up to you to find out where things have gone wrong. That said, there are ways to enhance your CME program, and it boils down to using adult learning theory ideas in your courses. 


The goal of this blog post is to list and explain four ways that you can leverage adult learning theory ideas to enhance your CME program.


Develop Your Knowledge Base and Understand Your Learners’ Needs

As a CME director, you want to design your CME content and use the best educational methods possible. As you’re preparing to draft your courses, think about how to leverage adult learning theory. While many forms of learning theories exist, one form over another isn’t always the right fit for every learner. In fact, some learners may even present with several ways to learn at once. 


What you’ll want to do is assess and understand your learners’ individual needs and interests. With this knowledge base in hand, you can develop your CME course activities to meet those needs. 


Use Various Types of Adult Learning Theory


As you plan your CME courses, you’ll find that your learners will require various elements in order for you to leverage adult learning theory. Consider these theories: 


Developed by American educator Malcolm Knowles, andragogy addresses several principles as to how adults learn. 

  • Adults must be involved in the planning of their learning.
  • Adults’ experiences must provide foundation for their learning activities.
  • Adults are most interested in learning about topics that have direct relevance to their personal and/or professional lives.
  • Adults are focused on content that is problem-centered.


Cognitivism explains the learning process via information processing. Learners benefit from your organization of proper medical education that aids in their problem-solving skills. They will apply the material from their CME education to ongoing and future practice and be motivated to learn more.


Constructivism teaches new knowledge based on your learners’ prior foundational knowledge, and aids in an active and social learning environment. During their learning, they will undoubtedly encounter different information that is inconsistent with those experiences.                                                                                                                                                                                                        



Experiential learning is based on the process of knowledge creation. Knowledge comes as a result of experience understanding, that is, learners focus on their experiences and bring these into the current CME subject matter. Experiential learning engages your learners and provides them with a strong motivation to learn. 


Self-directed learning


You may have learners who want control over their learning. They want to drive access to their information on their own time. Self-directed learners do best when their educational materials are located online—like being integrated in your learning management system (LMS)—that hosts content such as articles, webinars, podcasts, and other interactive content.

Use CME Course Design to Bring the Adult Learning Theory to Life


As a CME director, you’ve determined how you can leverage adult learning in your CME program. Now it’s time to use this valuable information to design content that will cater to your learners’ specific needs and learning styles.


With today’s learning theories, the time has already begun to move away from didactic methods of teaching. For many learners, interactivity provides them with the ability to better engage in the materials and successfully increase their knowledge.


With interactive content at the forefront, look to producing activities that include:


  • High-quality video from seminars, annual meetings, seminars, symposia, advisory boards, and other events. Offer them as livestreaming videos, webinars, and convert them into enduring materials.
  • Third party videos from platforms like YouTube.
  • High quality audio to produce podcasts.
  • Online communities that provide discussions from well-known subject matter experts (SMEs) and peers.
  • Large and small chat rooms for information exchanges.
  • Social media for even more information exchanges.


Use Technology and Leverage Adult Learning Theory to Go Hand-in-Hand


EthosCE is a learning management system (LMS) that provides you with the ability to rapidly design and produce your CME content. Your CME program can leverage adult learning theory with today’s technology to produce high-quality video from seminars, annual meetings, seminars, Regularly Scheduled Series, symposia, advisory boards, and other events and offer them as livestreaming videos, webinars, podcasts, and enduring materials. By approaching diverse educational techniques along with an enterprise-grade technology platform like EthosCE, you’ll find you’ll achieve success in your CME program. EthosCE also enables you to use assessments, quizzes, and multiple choice content to determine how you leverage adult learning theory and use successful designing for your CME courses. Your program performance and outcomes improve as your content becomes more impactful and energizing to your learners.

Let adult learning theories walk hand-in-hand with your CME courses. Learn about how you can leverage adult learning theory with EthosCE, schedule a free one-on-one demo with one of our specialists today!