College Courses and Degrees

How to Teach Adult Learning Courses?

Adult learners tend to be self-directed in that they know why they are taking a class and what they want to get out of it. Results-oriented, adults look for education that directly applies to their current situation or relates to their field of expertise. In general, adult students are mature and take responsibility for their own learning. So whether you are teaching a crafts course at a local community college or a doctoral preparation program at a university, you have to shift your focus to working with adults rather than children.

  1. Start from the premise that you are teaching adults, not children. Adults are taking the course because they want to, not because they have to.
  2. Be prepared. Always have your class well planned and your materials at hand. Adults are going to notice if you are not properly organized and your credibility as an instructor will be affected.
  3. Begin the course by having your students introduce themselves. Give them an example by talking about yourself and discussing the topics you would like them to cover when it is their turn to speak.
  4. Lead by example. Demonstrate that you are actively involved in your own continuing education. Talk about the books you are reading, the plays you are seeing or the projects you are working on.
  5. Make your course interactive. Encourage adult learner participation in the class. Break them into groups to discuss assigned topics and then report back to the whole class.
  6. Ask for adult students’ input. As self-directed learners, adults know where they want to go with the course. If you can respond by taking them there, you will be an admired teacher. If you try to force your will on an adult group, it could lead to confrontations.
  7. Establish an on-going evaluation process. Rather than waiting until the end of the course to find out what the adults think, ask them as you go along. This can be done through informal discussion or with a quick questionnaire.

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