Targeting Adult Learners

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Part
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Adult Learners

Quality of instruction, quality of curriculum, relevance, and pragmatism, progressive assessment and timely feedback, motivate adult learners to commit to higher education. New behaviors around education can be created by encouraging innovation, redesigning assessments, effective leadership system, education policies, and funding.

FACTORS THAT MOTIVATE ADULT LEARNERS TO COMMIT TO HIGHER EDUCATION:

1) QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION
  • Effective instructional delivery has been observed to arouse motivation in adult learners.
  • Adult learners have more life experiences, time demands, and psychological and socio-emotional, hence the instructional approach for teaching in higher education should be more andragogical in nature.
  • Instructors must be grown adults and sensitive to adults learning styles and needs.

2) QUALITY OF CURRICULUM
  • Course content is "critical to motivating adult learners in participating in any learning endeavors."
  • A high-quality curriculum is one that meets certain professional standards and learners' needs.
  • "Learning is influenced by whether it brings satisfaction or annoyance to the learner."

3) RELEVANCE AND PRAGMATISM
  • Adult learners perceive learning as a means to an end and value learning only if they are relevant to their needs.
  • Most adult learners prefer hands-on-learning activities that are relevant to their immediate needs and when they feel interested, their motivation increases toward more meaningful learning.

4) INTERACTIVE CLASSROOM AND EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
  • Classroom organization, enforcement of class expectations, and encouragement of verbalization of thoughts and cross-fertilization of ideas among learners are some examples of an interactive classroom and effective management practices.
  • When learners feel they are part of the social group and are working with others to achieve similar ends, their motivation to participate is enhanced.

5) PROGRESSIVE ASSESSMENT AND TIMELY FEEDBACK
  • Adult learners are motivated when learning activities and assessments are structured clearly to provide clarity about the requirements and types of feedback.
  • It is also a well-established phenomenon that immediate and precise feedback has a strong effect on learning.

HOW TO CREATE NEW BEHAVIORS AROUND EDUCATION:

1) ENCOURAGING INNOVATION
  • It is important to create a level playing field in institutions where great ideas are refined and shared.
  • Provision of funds and incentives for innovations will also help create new behaviors around education.

2) REDESIGNING ASSESSMENTS
  • The way students are tested has a big influence on the behavior around education.
  • Students and instructors pay attention to what is tested and adapt the curriculum accordingly.
  • Assessments only capture dimensions of learning outcomes. Assessments need to be redesigned to create new behaviors around education.

3) EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP SYSTEM
  • Effective leadership is important in every aspect of education.
  • According to Michael Fullan, an authority on education reform, programs do not scale, it is a culture that scales and culture is the hallmark of effective leadership.

4) EDUCATION POLICIES
  • Change in education policies would affect funding, standards for instructors, and curriculum decisions. All these can create new behaviors around education.

5) FUNDING
  • Spending wisely on education can create new behaviors around education.
  • Funding policies play a key role in ensuring that resources are directed to where they can make the most difference.
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