1. Characteristics of Adult Learners
For an instructor it is imperative to develop a systematic understanding of the student demographic. It is essential to understand differences when trying to make and execute lesson plans that work for the whole adult class.
I use this website about Malcolm Knowles to explore the Characteristics of Adult Learners. Knowles developed a distinctive conceptual basis for adult education and learning via the notion of andragogy. Just as ballet serves as a good foundation for learning other dance methods, understanding Knowles methodology provides a useful frame of reference for a discussion of the characteristics of Adult Learners.
2. Creating a Positive Learning Environment
Creating a Positive Learning Environment is challenging for a new instructor. I want to foster
A climate in which both learners and teachers are able to engage in genuine exchange. (Merriam and Brockett, p.150)
Considering the large age range (18yrs-36yrs) and different life experiences of the students, it is hard to create a safe and positive environment for everyone. I find that being prepared and confident and using anecdotes mixed with gentle humour to relate academic concepts to work life helps to accomplish this. I encourage those who excel to assist their classmates. I also try to spend one-on-one time with each student.
3. Motivational Techniques
Educators who wish to work successfully with adult learners need to understand who adult learners are and how they learn.(Merriam and Brockett, p.158)
When I start with a new group of students or with a new topic I will elicit information about the students’ experiences, motivations and goals. The learner who wishes to support his growing family will have very different motivations than the learner seeking to placate his parents. Both are motivated by measureable success: grades and feedback. I tap into this motivation by giving marks for methodical work and implementation. These attributes are a key part to being a successful electrician.
4. Instructional Process/Strategies
The electrician’s trade requires both mental acuity and hand-skills. This gives me, as an instructor, an excellent opportunity to break up chunks of academic information with hands-on demonstrations and practice. These exercises serve to relate academic theory to the future work environment. In this way I try to encourage a capacity for self-direction (see Mariam and brocket, p.136). Asking students to help and to teach each other fosters an egalitarian environment, especially as those who may excel academically may not excel when working with tools. These hands’ on exercises also help to deal with limits of attention span.
5. Lesson Planning
As an instructor I am presented with a detailed list of the theory, information and skills that I am to impart to my students. I am also given a great deal of leeway as to how I am to communicate that knowledge. With that leeway it is important to have overarching objectives. These are clearly communicated to my students with the understanding that more or less time may be spent on a topic than originally scheduled as a response to the needs of the class. I also have a detailed daily lesson plan that I am prepared to modify if needs be.