Mar 23, 2012

5 Tips to Teach Adults

Adult learners have different needs than school students. Many study business courses for work reasons and bring life and employment experience into the classroom. Others study to improve their abilities in technology, for example learning operating systems such as Windows 8. Special strategies are required to effectively teach adult students. These can be expanded upon in a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment course.

Some tips to teach adult students are;
· Set clear aims for each lesson
· Make classes relevant to students’ experience
· Vary teaching styles
· Encourage positive communication
· Be a facilitator rather than a traditional teacher.

1. Set Clear Aims for Each Lesson
All students need to know the aims of each lesson. However, for adult learners the need is greater. Adult learners attend after hours classes by choice. Their time is precious. Therefore, providing clear goals for each lesson will motivate them and make each class relevant. This improves the confidence of adult students.

2. Make Lessons Relevant to Experience.
Adult learners bring life and work experience to the classroom, particularly those studying business courses. In order to teach them concepts adequately, it is useful to draw upon these experiences. For example, a teacher may use real life work examples to illustrate the effectiveness of Windows 8. Using real life examples draws upon the student’s existing knowledge, making the lesson relevant. It creates interest and makes new concepts easier to understand.

3. Vary Teaching Styles.
All teachers should have knowledge of the various teaching styles. Learners tend to favour visual, oral or kinaesthetic learning methods. Visual learners remember information if it is presented in images or in books. Oral learners prefer spoken instruction, whilst kinaesthetic learners prefer a hands-on approach. A versatile teacher will be able to incorporate all these methods of learning into a class. One way to do this is to use interactive learning methods, such as pair and group work, and to present material both visually and orally. This satisfies the needs of all learners in the classroom.

4. Encourage Positive Communication
Many adults will be returning to a classroom after a long period of absence. This produces barriers to learning. Some will be scared to ask questions or to interact with other students. It is important to overcome these barriers when teaching adult students. Positive reinforcement will give students confidence to ask questions. Even if answers are incorrect, it is important to give an encouraging response.

Group activity can enhance communication between students. Including group activities will promote a friendly and collaborative feeling in the classroom. Group and pair work draws upon each student’s experience and makes each feel a valued contributor to the learning process.

5. Facilitate Rather Than Use Traditional Teaching Methods.
Teaching adults using traditional teaching methods will alienate many students. Traditional methods of teaching encourage a view of the teacher as superior to the student. This does not encourage adult students, some of whom may be older than the teacher.

Acting as a facilitator to learning, asking open ended questions, for example, will produce a positive learning environment. If the teacher shows that they value the learner’s experience, it will enhance the student’s confidence and motivation. Treating adult students as adults rather than as children will produce good results.

Teaching adult students requires different strategies to school teaching. Using collaborative learning methods and positive reinforcement will increase learning abilities in the classroom. Valuing the input of all students and acting as a facilitator rather than a traditional teacher will produce effective classes and happy adult learners.

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