Tag Archives: adult education

Learning Tips for Effective Instructors

Education Straight Ahead

Educators must remember that learning occurs within each individual as a continual process throughout life. People learn at different speeds, so it is natural for them to be anxious or nervous when faced with a learning situation. Positive reinforcement by the instructor can enhance learning, as can proper timing of the instruction.
Learning results from stimulation of the senses. In some people, one sense is used more than others to learn or recall information. Instructors should present materials that stimulates as many senses as possible in order to increase their chances of teaching success.

There are four critical elements of learning that must be addressed to ensure that participants learn. These elements are:

1. Motivation: If the participant does not recognize the need for the information (or has been offended or intimidated), all of the instructor’s effort to assist the participant to learn will be in vain. The instructor must establish rapport with participants and prepare them for learning; this provides motivation.

2. Reinforcement: Reinforcement is a very necessary part of the teaching/learning process; through it, instructors encourage correct modes of behavior and performance.

3. Retention: Students must retain information from classes in order to benefit from the learning. The instructors’ jobs are not finished until they have assisted the learner in retaining the information. In order for participants to retain the information taught, they must see a meaning or purpose for that information. The must also understand and be able to interpret and apply the information. This understanding includes their ability to assign the correct degree of importance to the material.

4. Transference: Transfer of learning is the result of training — it is the ability to use the information taught in the course but in a new setting. As with reinforcement, there are two types of transfer: positive and negative.

Although adult learning is relatively new as field of study, it is just as substantial as traditional education and carries and potential for greater success. Of course, the heightened success requires a greater responsibility on the part of the teacher. Additionally, the learners come to the course with precisely defined expectations. Unfortunately, there are barriers to their learning. The best motivators for adult learners are interest and selfish benefit. If they can be shown that the course benefits them pragmatically, they will perform better, and the benefits will be longer lasting.



Adult learning and motivation

Adult Education Degrees

An aspect of adult learning is motivation. At least six factors serve as sources of motivation for adult learning from social relationships, to making new friends, to cognitive interests.

  • Social relationships – to make new friends, to meet a need for associations and friendships.
  • External expectations – to comply with instructions from someone else; to fulfill the expectations or recommendations of someone with formal authority.
  • Social welfare – to improve ability to serve mankind, prepare for service to the community, and improve ability to participate in community work.
  • Personal advancement – to achieve higher status in a job, secure professional advancement, and stay abreast of competitors.
  • Escape/Stimulation – to relieve boredom, provide a break in the routine of home or work, and provide a contrast to other exacting details of life.
  • Cognitive interest – to learn for the sake of learning, seek knowledge for its own sake, and to satisfy an inquiring mind.

Barriers and Motivation

Unlike children and teenagers, adults have many responsibilities that they must balance against the demands of learning. Because of these responsibilities, adults have barriers against participating in learning. Some of these barriers include lack of time, money, confidence, or interest, lack of information about opportunities to learn, scheduling problems, “red tape,” and problems with child care and transportation.

Motivation factors can also be a barrier. What motivates adult learners? Typical motivations include a requirement for competence or licensing, an expected (or realized) promotion, job enrichment, a need to maintain old skills or learn new ones, a need to adapt to job changes, or the need to learn in order to comply with company directives.

The best way to motivate adult learners is simply to enhance their reasons for enrolling and decrease the barriers. Instructors must learn why their students are enrolled (the motivators); they have to discover what is keeping them from learning. Then the instructors must plan their motivating strategies. A successful strategy includes showing adult learners the relationship between training and an expected promotion.



Adults As Learners

Contemporary business people working in team in the office

Part of being an effective instructor involves understanding how adults learn best. Compared to children and teens, adults have special needs and requirements as learners. Despite the apparent truth, adult learning is a relatively new area of study. The field of adult learning was pioneered by Malcom Knowles.

He identified the following characteristics of adult learners:

•    Adults are autonomous and self-directed. They need to be free to direct themselves. Their teachers must actively involve adult participants in the learning process and serve as facilitators for them. Specifically, they must get participants’ perspectives about what topics to cover and let them work on projects that reflect their interests. They should allow the participants to assume responsibility for presentations and group leadership. They have to be sure to act as facilitators, guiding participants to their own knowledge rather than supplying them with facts. Finally, they must show participants how the class will help them reach their goals (e.g., via a personal goals sheet).

•    Adults have accumulated a foundation of life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education. They need to connect learning to this knowledge/experience base. To help them do so, they should draw out participants’ experience and knowledge which is relevant to the topic. They must relate theories and concepts to the participants and recognize the value of experience in learning.

•    Adults are goal-oriented. Upon enrolling in a course, they usually know what goal they want to attain. They, therefore, appreciate an educational program that is organized and has clearly defined elements. Instructors must show participants how this class will help them attain their goals. This classification of goals and course objectives must be done early in the course.

•    Adults are relevancy-oriented. They must see a reason for learning something. Learning has to be applicable to their work or other responsibilities to be of value to them. Therefore, instructors must identify objectives for adult participants before the course begins. This means, also, that theories and concepts must be related to a setting familiar to participants. This need can be fulfilled by letting participants choose projects that reflect their own interests.

•    Adults are practical, focusing on the aspects of a lesson most useful to them in their work. They may not be interested in knowledge for its own sake. Instructors must tell participants explicitly how the lesson will be useful to them on the job.

•    As do all learners, adults need to be shown respect. Instructors must acknowledge the wealth of experiences that adult participants bring to the classroom. These adults should be treated as equals in experience and knowledge and allowed to voice their opinions freely in class.



Tips for adults choosing to go back to school

Given the global economic issues and job market today, you will find there’s an increasing number of individuals choosing to return to school to upgrade their skill sets and to further their level of education. Countless people go back to school for many different reasons, for example, to upgrade their skills for promotions, or to improve their marketability in the job market, or have moved positions and need to learn new procedures to mention a few. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are , it is progressively more common for adults to return to school.

For anyone who is contemplating going back to school as a result of career move, or climbing the corporate ladder, it is most likely you will find it a great deal more challenging to go back to school after many years however it is not an impossible task.

Individuals returning to study after many years are likely to be more responsible and need to take into consideration numerous factors prior to enrolling for a course.

Family support – if you are going back to study you can expect to inform your family and friends and receive mixed thoughts and opinions relating to your choice and life responsibilities. Having a good support system around you can often mean the difference between success and failure. Try to avoid individuals that doubt your choices.

Communicate with family and friends – before returning to school talk to family and friends about your life ambitions and goals, and when you do, be honest and open. Family and friends that fully understand who you are more prone to provide you with honest and positive feedback relating to your choices.

Keep motivated and monitor your achievements – in all probability the most challenging element you will face after returning to school after a period of time is how to keep motivated. Tracking your achievements will assist you to keep motivated and focused on your goals and objectives.

Connect with other students – find other individuals who are in the same or similar position as you are and going through the same experience. Attend social events and network with other individuals.

Remain focused and organized – being organized with your course curriculum will assist you to succeed and achieve your goals and objectives. Ensure you know precisely what is required to be done and expected from each and every course. Become aware of your deadlines. Come up with a system that works for you.

Talk to your lecturers and professors – The vast majority of students are apprehensive to approach or ask their professors or instructors any questions. Asking your professor or lecturer for feedback will enable you to monitor how well you’re progressing and to focus on areas that you show a weakness to enable you to modify your study habits.

Time management – One of the most difficult things for an adult returning to study will face is time and management of their lives to allow for their studies. For those students who are working full time and have a family will need to manage their time effectively and efficiently. Create a schedule and discuss it with your family and supervisor or manager at work. There is a possibility that your employer will provide you with time off from work to study.

Use technology and social media – take advantage of the internet, social media tools, and other technologies to help and assist you to keep up to date with your assignments and objectives for each and every course you are taking.

Stress management – should you find yourself overwhelmed, over-worked and stressed out then you need to take a break from your studies. Go out for a meal or movie with family or friends. Go for a walk. Managing your level of stress will enable you to return to your studies with a clear head, focused and refreshed.

Manage exam anxiety – Regardless of how well you have prepared for your exams, exams period is a stressful time period for all students. Prepare ahead of time and do not cram during exam period. Trust yourself and arrive early for each exam. Read instructions carefully and take your time when answering questions.

We all know that higher education is a difficult task regardless of your age and much more for adults returning study. Create a plan, manage your time and be honest with yourself and weaknesses you have to improve upon. Most of all, returning to school as an adult required a positive attitude and self confidence.


Review Details Advancement in South Africa Adult Education

South African Government reveals that substantial improvement has been made to remodel the country’s adult education system with recent data exhibiting enrollment figures reaching 233 000 this past year.

Collins Chabange, the Minister in the Presidency in charge of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, expresses in the The Mid Term Review report  the fact that the Department of Higher Education and Training had improved access to higher education programmes by way of increasing spaces and available options at FET colleges and universities.

The report reviews and offers feedback to government with reference to the commitments government undertook at the outset of the last electoral term. Part of the report states that “This is an important milestone for increasing the employability of those without matric,”. The report was published at the same time as the green paper on higher education on higher education was released by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande which forecasts in excess of 4.5 million students a year signing up at universities, colleges and other post-school institutions throughout the country by 2030.

The shift is an important part of the department’s endeavor to shift student focus from conventional institutions including universities to Further Education and Training (FET) colleges. The Mid Term Review report illustrates specific information and facts  of the successful efforts over the past year by government  to develop a high-quality FET program to offer adult learners the opportunity to obtain the essential skills which could assist them to partake in the country’s economic growth.

It discloses that a total of 30 117 out of work students entered into learnerships against a target of 17 531 for 2011. The objective for workers getting into learnerships was surpassed, with 19 192 workers entering learnerships against the target of 13 243. In excess of 11 000 learners joined the artisan training system with 8 102 being successful in their trade tests and acquiring their trade certificates. The pass rate for the trade test improved from 41% in 2010 to 57% in 2011.

The report emphasizes the creation of the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) system in 2011 furthermore marked an important milestone in establishing alternative strategies for skills development.

It contributed to the creation of options available for 164 713 additional learners at FET colleges. This was coupled with a variety of activities to boost the caliber of service offered by FET colleges, including an evaluation of curricula, syndication of learner and teaching support materials in addition to training of lecturers.

“During the remainder of the term, there is a need for the department to evaluate whether these activities have been effective and whether the FET pass rate meets the 2011 target of 43% for level 4, as opposed to the 39% achieved in 2010. It is also important for DHET to evaluate the quality of the FET qualification and its demand in the workplace. To reduce the non-completion of qualifications and to increase the pass rate, concerted efforts are needed to support underprepared learners in language, mathematics and science,”.

Having said that, it had not been identified whether or not the industry is able to absorb the elevated numbers of students graduating from FET colleges.

Government bodies are pinning their hopes on the  National Skills Accord involving government, business and labour accompanied by a commitment from the private sector and business to absorb FET graduates.

To make sure that graduates obtain the required skills essential to business, the government will have to intensify its initiatives to boost the quality of service furnished by the FET colleges.

This will include things like enhancing the technical and pedagogical qualifications of lecturers, raising prerequisites for practical experience for lecturers, in addition to making improvements to the governance and management of FET colleges.

Without these kinds of expansion plans, it would appear that the FET sector will continue to be hindered by the quality of its product.

To download and read full report – click here