What Faculty should Understand about Adult Learners in an Online Environment Nancy Little Springfield College Nov. 7, 2012
Agenda:Enrollment.Characteristics of adult learners. Who are they?Adult Learning Theory: Andragogy.Online courses: benefits and challenges.What faculty can do.
EnrollmentStudents age 25+ enrollment rose 42%between 2000 and 2010.Enrollment of students age 25 + madeup 43% of students in degree-grantinginstitutions in 2010 (US Dept. ofEd., 2012).
EnrollmentThe National Center for EducationStatistics projects that students age25 and older will continue tocomprise 43% of undergraduatestudents in 2020.Students age 35 and older comprise18% of the student population.
Who are they?In recent years, adult learners are:Workers who lost their jobs in therecession of 2008.Veterans returning from Afghanistanand Iraq.
Adult Learners CharacteristicsAge 25 and older.Delayed enrollment.Attend part-time.Have taken college courses.Work full-time, 35 hours/week.
Adult Learners Characteristics CharacteristicsHave dependents, children or elderlyparents.Are single parents.Have a high school diploma or GED.Are active duty military personnel.
Adult Learning TheoryAndragogy is a term coined by MalcomKnowles in the 1960s to distinguishbetween pedagogy, a learning theoryapplied to children and teenagers,and the learning needs of adults.
Andragogy: four principlesThey are self-directed, takeresponsibility for their own actions,and resist having informationarbitrarily imposed on them.
Andragogy: four principlesThey have an extensive depth ofexperience, which serves as a criticalcomponent in the foundation of theirself identity.
Andragogy: four principlesThey are ready to learn. As most adultlearners return to collegevoluntarily, they are likely toactively engage in the learningprocess.
Andragogy: four principlesThey are task motivated. Adultstudents returning to college attendfor a specific goal and the primarycomponent of their motivational drivetends to be internal.
Adult LearnersDraw upon previous life and workexperience, which enables reasoningand reflective thinking during thelearning process.Possess a healthy skepticism relatedto well established attitudes,beliefs, and values.
Online CoursesStudents choose online courses for:convenience.flexibility.ability to balance work, education,and home and family obligations.
Online CoursesThe Pew Internet and American LifeProject reports that 36% of adultsover the age of 30 who graduatedcollege took courses online.
Online CoursesA Pew Internet and American Life Project survey saysthat,“77% of college presidents report that theirinstitutions now offer online courses, and collegepresidents predict substantial growth in onlinelearning:15% say most of their current undergraduate studentshave taken a class online,50% predict that ten years from now most of theirstudents will take classes online.”
Online Courses89% of 4 year colleges offer onlineeducation.91% of 2 year colleges offer onlineeducation (Parker, 2011).
Challenges of Online Courses Students experience negative emotions such as anger, frustration, confusion, boredom and isolation. Technophobia. High drop out rate. 68% of college students have a negative view of online courses and say it does not have the same value as face-to-face classroom setting.
More challengesLearning how to communicate bywritten discourse in an asynchonousmanner (Zembylas 2008 ).Lack of immediate feedback(Mouzakitis and Nazime, 2011).Increased preparation time.Problems managing time.
What Faculty can do: Become familiar with learning styles and comfortable with a variety of teaching strategies that address different learning styles.
What Faculty can do: Maintain large, easy to read fonts and clear bold colors (Cercone 2008). Ensure students can move through the instruction at their own pace. Allow students to review previous learning.
V. A. R. K.V= Visual. Learn best by observing,watching and seeing.A= Aural. Learn through listening,discussing and talking.R=Read/Write. Learn best byinteracting with textual materials.K=Kinesthetic. Learn best by doing.
Activities to support visual learning style: pictures posters slides videos flow charts different color/font graphs
Activities to support aural learning style:discussions with teacher/peerdebatesargumentsaudiovideomusicseminars
Activities to supportRead/Write Learning Style:textbook readings/articles/handouts/notes.written feedback.Manuals.Essays.Bibliographies.Dictionaries.Glossaries.
Activities to support Kinesthetic learning style:Hands-on experiences.Modeling.Role play.Physical activities.Guest lecturers.Real life experiences.Demonstrations.
Podcastingon-demand audio files that can bedownloaded from the internet to a MP3mobile device (Luna and Cullen 41).
Podcasting“Instructors may want to considerpodcasting as a medium to assist withlearning, providing a structure foranalysis or interpretation forcontent, thus fostering improvedreflection” (Luna and Cullen, 2011,p. 44).
PodcastingA study of graduate students revealed50% of students accessed the podcastmore than once, while only 31% readthe unit material more than once.
Podcasting75% of students would recommend thatother students taking the courselisten to the podcast.Students took notes while listening.Believed they were more productive.76% agreed the podcast enhanced orclarified their understanding.
Collaborative WorkGroup projects are common.Students really don’t like them.
Group ProjectsDesign group projects to addressreal-world problems.Establish norms before group workbegins.Monitor group’s progress.
Group ProjectsRequire groups to provide feedback.Evaluate other group members.Evaluate the group experience.
Assist Students by:Re-evaluating assignment instructionsand the frequency and type ofguidance provided to online learners.Provide examples of how students canbest manage their time.Include training on specifictechnical skills.
Different AssessmentsUse different assessment tools fordifferent learning styles.Students with read/write learningstyle perform better on quizzes. Howwill you assess visual, aural andkinesthetic learners?
Finally...Remember that everyone is different.Adults have jobs, families, and otherduties beyond their coursework.Adults want to learn and aremotivated.And they have life experience tocontribute to the classroom whetherit’s face-to-face or online!
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