5 Ways To Engage With Adult Students

With the number of adult students growing, many training centres and educators have now realised that adult learners are fundamentally different than their younger counterparts in many ways. Thus, training methods must reflect the differences.

With this being the case, how can teachers & tutors better accommodate and encourage adult student success in a classroom setting? Here at The Learning Station, we’d like to give you the tools to adapt and optimise your teaching strategies, to maximise engagement with adult learners.

1. Treat Them Like the Adults They Are:
Adult learners are generally more sophisticated and experienced than their younger counterparts and they benefit from realistic examples of skills they can use in “real life.”

Applying the same teaching methods used for younger pupils will undoubtedly cause problems, and eventually lead to student disengagement. Ensure that your lesson plans are geared towards a mature audience.

2. Be Aware That Class Room Skills May Be Rusty:
Some adult learners have not been in a classroom for 30 years, so you may need to remind them of basic rules and etiquette, such as raising a hand if you have a question. At the same time, reassure them that, as the instructor, you will not be judgemental of their life experiences or their perspectives, and that they will be evaluated only on their mastery of the content.

At the start of the course, going over class ground rules may be a good way to re-introduce class room etiquette, without sounding authoritarian.

3. Understand The Technological Gap:
Students in their 50s and 60s are generally not nearly as ‘tech-savvy’, or indeed, tech dependent, as some would argue an 18 or even 30 year old may be. Assess each student’s level of proficiency as it relates to class requirements and compensate.

Ensure that any technology involved in the lesson is easily understandable, and offer help whenever needed. It may be a good idea to check which adults are computer literate, if any at all, before moving into a task requiring such a skill.

4. Be Efficient With Lessons & Activities:
Adult learners generally dislike spending too much time on easily completed topics. Move forward briskly, allowing just enough time to complete each task.

Spending too much time on tasks allows room for boredom and disengagement. Combat this by constantly moving forward and completing tasks at a fast, yet manageable rate. You may need to spend a few lessons experimenting with the speed of the lesson, in order to find the perfect pace.

5. Exercise Creativity:
Use the unique vibe or personality of each class to teach the lesson and choose activities that engage, and even entertain to some degree. Pair highly motivated students with those less skilled on projects to create peer encouragement and mentoring.

Teaching adults allows you to use teaching methods unsuitable for younger students. Adults will be more open to a more open teaching plan, encouraging more questions and answers, relating the lesson to every day life issues, and so forth.

The above methods are all excellent ways to create a better environment for adult learners, no matter what the subject material. Incorporating all of these techniques will ensure a happy, efficient adult learning class.


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Kaya Ismail

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