Responses to the Need of Adult Learners


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Prepared for an Adult Education course at Durham College by Kathy Hicks, Natalia Koroleva, Kim Orlando, Pat Stephens.

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Responses to the Need of Adult Learners

  1. 1. Responses to the Needs of Kathy Hicks Adult Learners: Case Natalia Koroleva Kim Orlando Pat Stephens Study March 28, 2013
  2. 2. Case Scenario: Student (Ginette) • Ginette is a forty-five year-old female, returning to school after an eighteen year absence from the workplace.   • She has previous work experience as a legal secretary. Her goals for returning to the workplace began with registering for the Business English course. • With family priorities, she is worried about the time commitment and skills needed to return to school. • She has a hearing impairment which affects her ability to hear clearly in a classroom setting. • Ginette has basic computer knowledge but would like to upgrade her skills to the latest computer applications.
  3. 3. Stress/Anxiety: Challenges for GinetteReturning to a class environment after many years out of school and theworkforce, Ginette worries about her ability to understand what is requiredand be able to deliver on the requirements.• Are her computer skills advanced enough to keep up with the class?• Is she confident enough to participate?• Are her writing skills good enough to be able to successfully complete assignments?• Will she be able to continue to manage her family obligations and complete the course?Ginette is feeling stress, anxiety and unsure she can actually do this.
  4. 4. Case Scenario: Class Description • Business English – Durham College The aim of this course is to prepare students to succeed in complex business communication tasks in writing, reading and listening. • There is a maximum of twenty students in the classroom/computer lab. • Geared toward adults who are preparing to return to work. • Instructor: Maki Pakana (2nd Year Instructor)
  5. 5. Assessment of Ginette’s NeedsBased on the scenario, thefollowing needs wereidentified. This study explains the needs of the student, the challenges for the instructor and the recommended strategies for planning the course.
  6. 6. Stress/Anxiety: Challenges for the Instructor• Ginettes experience is not uncommon in adults returning to school. Instructor Maki can have the class complete KOLBs Learning Style Inventory (LSI) to help the students better understand their individual learning preferences, strengths and weaknesses.• Ginette will discover that her preferred learning style is Assimilating as she can be reflective and observational as well as good at conceptualizing and considering alternatives to an issue. She is very good at researching and gathering information, organizing that information and planning and building her concepts. Her life roles as marriage partner and stay-at-home mother raising her children and managing the household, along with her previous role working as a legal secretary have all helped to build her strengths.• Being aware of Ginettes learning preferences, strengths and weaknesses, Instructor Maki has the opportunity to help Ginette use her life skills to have a successful learning experience. Maki can make sure to take time to explain, in plain, easy to understand terms, what is expected of the class, how students can ask for assistance, and if possible, even set up an appointment with each student in order to continue to ensure the students are on track and confident they are meeting the class requirements.• To build upon Ginettes preferred learning style, Instructor Maki can try to provide opportunities for Ginette to use her strengths by assigning a writing project, with suggestions of possible sources to review so Ginette can immediately feel accomplishment using her well-honed research and analytical skills. As the class progresses, so too will Ginettes confidence that she can do this.
  7. 7. Stress/Anxiety: Challenges for the InstructorThere are some very simple, but impactful things instructors can do tomake students more comfortable in the learning environment accordingto Rose,“Teachers can be instrumental in fostering help-seeking behaviour. They candiscuss this issue directly, providing anecdotes from their own and theirstudents’ experiences. Teachers can ask to see students and make theappointment on the spot. Central to these issues is the kind of atmospherefaculty create in their classrooms, that is, the sense students pick up from theway a teacher addresses them, responds to questions and deals with requests.Heres the bottom line for students: Is this a safe place, and do I feelrespected? If the answer is yes, students will be more willing to answer or aska question, participate and take a chance”. 2 2. Rose, M. (2012). What teachers can do for returning adult students. Retrieved from
  8. 8. Stress/Anxiety: StrategiesWhen instructing adults, it is important to remember that adults bring their lifeexperiences to the classroom. In this particular scenario, KOLBs ExperientialLearning Theory and his Learning Style Inventory would be helpful in beginningto break down Ginettes stress, anxiety and lack of confidence and begin to helpher to see she can translate her life skills into the learning environment. Concrete Experience Active Kolb’s Cycle Reflective Experimentation of Observation Experiential Learning Abstract Conceptualization
  9. 9. Computer Literacy: Challenges for GinetteGinette’s challenges with technology use are:•No work experience for the past 18 years.•Minimal computer experience (basic Internet and email skills).•She is concerned that classwork will require advanced computer skills.•She is worried that she will need to spend time learning to use a variety ofcomputer applications (Word, PowerPoint, Internet and Email). Learning to use technology for adults can be stressful.
  10. 10. Computer Literacy: Challenges for the Instructor Maki will have a diverse group of adults starting the course with different level of computer literacy. Many of the adults in the course will have acquired some computer skills through informal learning at home or in the workplace. As a business writing instructor, Maki is required to keep her technical skills up-to-date. The classroom is a computer lab so Maki needs to make sure that all the learners have basic computer skills before she can begin to cover the writing portion of the course.
  11. 11. Computer Literacy: Strategies Computer self-efficacy refers to one’s belief in one’s ability to apply his or her computer skills to a wide range of tasks. 1 Strengthening Computer Self-Efficacy •Plan moderately challenging tasks  Don’t make it too easy, challenge them. •Use peer models  Include opportunities for group work. •Teach specific learning strategies  Provide logical sequence of steps (easy to difficult). •Capitalize on student’s interests  Give them a choice of assignment topics. •Encourage students to try  Make the use of technology relevant to business writing in the workplace. •Give frequent, focused feedback  Create opportunities to transfer learning – how will I use this skill in the workplace. Margolis, H., & McCabe, P. P. (2006). Improving Self-Efficacy and Motivation: What to Do, What to Say. Intervention In1.School And Clinic, 41(4), 218-227.
  12. 12. Stages for Learning to Use TechnologyStage Ginette Maki Bloom’s Taxonomy1. Awareness Recognizes the names and Must ensure that equipment works Remembering types of tools that can be used and instructions start with basic to for business applications. advanced.2. Learning the process Understands some technology Build confidence through positive Understanding but needs positive reinforcement. encouragement from her Provide access to resources (online instructor so she is confident guides and videos) to use at home. using a computer.3. Understanding the Requires hands-on practice The course outline should start with Applyingapplication of the lessons with relevant short lessons that help her apply newsoftware applications that give her a skills to current use in business purpose for why she is learning. applications.4. Familiarity and Self-confidence will grow as she Focus is on business writing skills Analyzingconfidence develops the skills and can and less time on using technology. apply logical ways to use the software.5. Adaptation Can recognize potential ways to More complex assignments are Evaluating use technology in the workplace introduced. and at home.6. Creative applications Comfort level with technology Maki’s is successful! Creating and picking the appropriate business computer application.
  13. 13. Hearing Impairment: Ginette’s Challenges Ginette has a hearing impairment, she requires the use of a hearing aid and depends on speech-reading while communicating. Because of her hearing aid, she experienced auditory pain when she was exposed to loud noises. The classroom did not have a carpet which created echoes and reverberating noise. She had many auditory and visual distractions during group work that made it difficult for her to concentrate on her new environment. Her hearing impairment made it difficult to socialize with her classmates.
  14. 14. Hearing Impairment: Challenges for the Instructor Maki’s main teaching method was through verbal instruction and she relied on her students’ hearing to teach. Maki did not have experience teaching students with hearing impairments.
  15. 15. Hearing Impairment: Strategies Theories used to Identify StrategiesInstructor Maki consulted with ahearing specialist, the collegeadministration, and her colleagueswho had previous experienceteaching students with hearingimpairments and used Maslow’stheory to help address Ginette’sconcerns.
  16. 16. Hearing Impairment: Strategies Physiological Needs Maki moved to another classroom that had a carpet. This reduced the echo in the classroom. She placed a carrel in the Quiet Corner and encouraged Ginette to take her work whenever she was having trouble concentrating Maki discussed the best seating arrangement in the room with Ginette to help her receive the most information during normal classroom activities. Each seat in the class was assigned to a student. She arranged the classroom so that Ginette could see Maki’s face at all times when she was speaking. Before speaking to Ginette, Maki would make sure that she had her attention. She also made sure to speak naturally, stood in natural light, and to face Ginette while she spoke to her. Maki used visuals representations, handout, outlines, and overhead notes during her teaching.
  17. 17. Hearing Impairment: Strategies Safety and Security Maki encouraged Ginette to talk to her about any concerns that she had and to advocate for her own accommodations. Maki also assigned the entire class to keep personal journals where they could write how they feel about the course and about any concerns that they would share with Maki. Maki explained the emergency procedures to Ginette and provided her written instructions that Ginette kept in her course binder. They also came up with visual cues that they could use in case of different emergency situations. Maki established a predictable daily routine and provided a written version of it to Ginette. She also designated a well-visualized spot on the blackboard to let write down the daily schedule. Maki provided vocabulary lists with definitions of new terms and concepts to be used during the day and encouraged Ginette to start a personal dictionary of professional words that she has learned. Maki went over the course outline in depth and made sure everyone in the class knew what was expected from the students and from the instructor.
  18. 18. Hearing Impairment: Strategies Social Needs Maki asked Ginette about her expectations and needs. Maki used The Parking Lot technique and encouraged Ginette and the rest of the class to write down the issues that they wanted to discuss at a later time. Maki used a circular seating arrangement to help Ginette see the faces of her classmates. Maki also repeated the questions that were asked by other students to be sure that Ginette knew what was being asked. Maki used a white board to summarize important points during classroom discussions and had the groups report their work on large paper that they could read as a group. When appropriate, Maki asked for a hearing volunteer to team up with Ginette for note-taking during class discussions and group presentations. Maki also made paper copies of written class notes for Ginette.
  19. 19. Hearing Impairment: Strategies Esteem During teaching, Maki made sure to allow Ginette the same amount of anonymity as the other students and did not center her out in the class. Maki was flexible with her teaching and allowed Ginette independent time to work with audiovisual materials. When Maki had any doubts about how to help Ginette, she would ask her for her opinion. Maki provided positive feedback to Ginette.
  20. 20. Hearing Impairment: Strategies Self-Actualization Maki performed formal graded evaluations at the middle and end of each term. The evaluation was both in verbal and written forms and focused on where Ginette was with her learning at the time of evaluation, how far she had come since her previous evaluation, and how far she still had to go. At each evaluation, Maki and Ginette talked about what strategies Ginette would use to reach her next goals and Maki would encourage Ginette to continue learning and to try more challenging things that would help her grow as an individual and as a learner.
  21. 21. Hearing Impairment: Summary Some of these strategies and adaptations will benefit not only a student with hearing impairment but also other students in a group. Using more visuals enhances instructional presentations and addresses the idea of multiple intelligences. A daily journal written by all class members is a great way to build teacher-student relationships and to allow Maki to know and quickly address any concern. Providing students with handouts before lesson can help them concentrate more on the actual lesson rather than spending the time copying down the information Providing a quiet place in the classroom for Ginette will also help other students who occasionally need alone time. Preferred assigned seating will minimize distractions and can be also helpful for students with ADHD and students with learning disabilities.
  22. 22. Best Practices: Responding to the Needs of Adult Learners • Analyze learning needs and goals.Analyze • Incorporate adult learning theories into planning.Theories • Develop and customize course content to meet learner needs.Develop • Create a classroom environment that meets social and physical needs.Environment • Include opportunities to apply concepts that are relevant to adult learners.Relevancy • Evaluate after each course finishes for continuous improvement.Evaluate
  23. 23. ReferencesBC Ministry of Education. Heard of hearing and deaf students: A Resource guide to support classroom teachers. Retrieved from, A. (2007). Educational origami, Blooms and ICT tools. Retrieved from Cornucopia of Disability Information. Hearing impairments. Retrieved from, Caron. (2007). A guide to facilitating adult learning. Retrieved from a_guide_to_facilitating_adult_learning.pdfFockler, D. (2013). How adults learn [Online document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site:, D. (2013). Cultivating adult learning [Online document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: https://, N.L. (2010). Inclusion of exceptional learners in Canadian schools: A Practical handbook for teachers. Toronto: Pearson Canada.Margolis, H., & McCabe, P. P. (2006). Improving Self-Efficacy and Motivation: What to Do, What to Say. Intervention in School and Clinic, 41(4), 218-227.Rose, M. (2012). What teachers can do for returning adult students. Retrieved from, A. (1996). Six stages for learning to use technology. Paper presented at the American Educational Communications and Technology Association Convention, Indianapolis. Retrieved from, N., Gorrard, S. & Furlong, J. (2006) Adult learning in the digital age. London, Routledge Taylor & Francis.
  24. 24. otes Online Web site: utchinson, N.L. (2010). Inclusion of exceptional learners in Canadian schools: A Practical andbook for teachers. Toronto: Pearson Canada. argolis, H., & McCabe, P. P. (2006). Improving Self-Efficacy and Motivation: What to Do,What to Say. Intervention in School and Clinic, 41(4), 218-227.Rose, M. (2012). What teachers can do for returning adult students. Retrieved from tp://, A. (1996). Six stages for learning to use technology. Paper presented at the merican Educational Communications and Technology Association Convention, dianapolis. Retrieved from elwyn, N., Gorrard, S. & Furlong, J. (2006) Adult learning in the digital age. London, outledge Taylor & Francis.