By Tanya Pechous, Ed.D. | February 20, 2017
Do you remember that fear you had when thinking about returning to college? Like somehow you would walk into the classroom and the teacher would talk to you much like the old Peanuts teacher did with Charlie Brown... “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.” And the kicker is that you would be the only one who didn’t get it? Well rest assured, that fear is quite common for adults who have been out of school for a while.
At Marian University, our MAP instructors understand that adults learn differently than they once did. This concept is called andragogy and basically says:
- Adults want to be engaged rather than lectured. Speaking from past experience as an adult learner, there was nothing worse to me then sitting in the classroom with a teacher regurgitating the material directly from the textbook that I had already read. What I like to do in my classes is ask, What do you think? questions. This helps to get the students involved in the discussion and to feel free to share their opinions.
- Adults learn and retain information better if they can relate it to their past experiences. I have the luxury of teaching what I consider to be fun classes within MAP. If I ask you something like, Can you describe a time when someone you know acted unethically? chances are after a few moments an experience would pop into your mind that you could share. That sounds a lot more interesting than me saying, Define ethics. The outcome would be the same but by relating it to a past experience, it tends to stick in the mind easier.
- Adults’ real-life events should help guide training activities. Many adult learners that I know have had a child, have been divorced, or have worked multiple jobs by the time they return to school. One thing I like to do is role-play in the classroom. For example, if we are going to practice interviewing skills, I will have some students take the role of the interviewer and some students take the role of the interviewee. Most adults will pursue promotions within their company or seek new jobs at another organization so role-plays like this are an excellent way to prepare.
- Adults want to learn something relevant that they can actually apply. I have small children and I know one day I will be asked, Why do I have to learn this? I will never use this in the real world. Oh, how true is this sentiment for adult learners? In my classes, I know it’s not realistic to cover all of the materials from a 400-page textbook in 5-weeks. With that said, I ensure we cover the relevant, critical materials that are necessary to meet our learning objectives and that we can actually use in real life.
Marian's Adult Programs is perfect for you in part because we teach the way that you learn. You will find that our instructors utilize a variety of teaching techniques to engage the students in our classrooms. We draw from your personal experiences and areas of expertise to enhance the learning environment. We respect your learning needs and appreciate the value of the input you provide. I often tell my students, I learn as much from them as I hope they are learning from me. With that in mind, put your fears and apprehensions aside. In MAP, we truly understand what nontraditional learners need in the classroom and we do all we can to provide that.