Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategies

Now that we have learned more about the characteristics of adult learners and explored the differences between youth and adult learners, let's learn more about how we can use that information in our classrooms. Click on each link to learn more about teaching strategies appropriate for adult learners.

Ask what they want to learn: Because adults are relevancy oriented, it is important to get the participants perspectives about what topics they want to cover. You can do this by simply asking the adult learners what they hope to learn or gain from the class. Additionally, create projects that reflect the interests and needs of your adult learners.

Share responsibility and class leadership: In most cases, your adult learners will be more autonomous and self-directed than younger students. It is important to allow your adult learners to assume responsibility for presentations and class leadership.

Use lecture sparingly: When teaching adults, lecture should be used sparingly. While lecture is a common method used to present information, it can be used in conjunction with discussion strategies. You can use open-ended questions to provide opportunities for dialogue among your students.

Other teaching methods can include discussing current events or using technology.

In addition, effort should be made to incorporate field trips, virtual field trips, and guest speakers into classes.

Ask what they know about a topic: Teachers should create opportunities for adult learners to access their previously held knowledge and use their experiences as a foundation for new learning.

For example, when introducing new information, ask your adult learners to share what they already know about the topic and what experiences they have with the content.

Pose real-world problems: We know that adults bring a vast repertoire of knowledge and experiences to our classrooms. It is important to acknowledge the wealth of experiences that adult participants bring to the classroom.

This can be accomplished by posing real-world problems for your adult learners to solve that are related to the content you are teaching. Throughout the lesson, ask the learners to share the experiences they have had solving similar issues.

Allow learners to choose project topics: Teachers must identify learning objectives for adult participants before the course begins. This means that theories and concepts must be related to a setting familiar to participants. For example, when assigning projects, let your adult learners choose projects that reflect their own interests and needs.

Emphasize the importance of learning: Because adults are often motivated internally, you should communicate the importance of learning the material as opposed to making a grade. This can be verbalized to adult learners in class, in one-on-one meetings during office hours, and through other means of communication.

Teachers must tell adult learners explicitly how the lesson will be useful to them on the job. Instead of telling adult learners this will be on the test, emphasize where the information will be utilized beyond the classroom.

Build rapport: Building rapport with adult learners is critically important. It is important to engage in adult learners' lives outside of the classroom, and you should also be willing to share about your own life. Be sure to make a deliberate effort to share about yourself, both professionally and personally.

Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2012, 10:40 AM
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