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Teaching Tips/Learner Strategies

Teaching Tips

It is important that the unique needs of the adult learner be addressed in the classroom. Although not all adults have the same needs, there are some common characteristics to consider when working with this population. Effective teaching begins by recognizing the needs of the class participants. Some common characteristics found in the adult education student are cited here.

Adult Learners Are Self-Directed Learners.
Self-directed learning for adults means that the students want to and should assume responsibility for their own learning. That is to say that the adult learner is in a program with a purpose in mind. It is vital to find out what the purpose is. In most cases, it is the GED; however, that may not be the case for all class participants. One way to find out the motivation behind the students' involvement in the program is to do an individualized ten-minute interview with each student. This process helps the educator to see the educational goal the student has set. Understanding a student's educational goals and how they fit into the classroom is a major step in the self-directed learning process.

Adult Learners' Experiences and Resources for Learning Vary Greatly from that of the K-12 Learner. The personal, social, and job experiences have a great impact on adult student learning. Previous school experiences also play a role in the learning and attitude of the student. It is important to make the tie between the adult learner's background and his or her new learning experience. This enables the student to see the "real-world" connection and the relevancy to life.

Adults Typically Problem-Solve in a Group Situation. Many adult learners learn more effectively from group learning situations than they do from independent study. It is important to instill in the adult learner that peer resources are valuable commodities. A certain portion of the class meeting should be set aside to do some group work, group problem solving, and cooperative learning.

Learning Styles. After considering the needs of the adult learner and recognizing the motivation for and barriers to learning that the individual has, it is important to empower the student. The adult learner needs choices and a feeling of control in the learning environment. One way to assist the student is to teach using a variety of methods. It is also important to give assignment options so the student has choices and, therefore, control over this aspect of the class environment. Assignment options should be based on learning styles and the eight intelligences as identified by Howard Gardner. Refer to the links provided below to assist you in planning lessons and assignment options to meet the individual needs of all the learners in the GED classroom. Successful, independent adults are able to look at topics and make informed choices.

EdWeb: MI - The Theory
Multiple Intelligences theory, in a nutshell, is a pluralized way of understanding the intellect. Recent advances in cognitive science, developmental psychology and neuroscience suggest that each person's level of intelligence, as it has been traditionally considered, is actually made up of autonomous faculties that can work individually or in concert with other faculties. This site presents the understandings that may be found within these eight identified faculties.

"I think...therefore...M.I.!" Muliple Intelligences Immersion
The criteria Howard Gardner used for identifying multiple intelligences is presented here along with a ready-to-use inventory for assessing MI. The page links to a diverse collection of internet sites corresponding to the identified intelligences.

Deeper Into Multiple Intelligences: MI Theory As A Tool
An article by Howard Gardner that outlines the steps and practices that have proven effective in establishing an MI environment and probing deeper into multiple intelligences.

The Talking Page Literacy Organization
This page presents detailed descriptions of the twelve identified principles for brain-based learning and identifies strategies for utilizing each in the classroom setting.

Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Adult Education
Strategies and tools for applying the theory of multiple intelligences to basic skills, learning styles, ABE, and adult literacy education. The site helps instructors and students discover their many intelligences and how to use them effectively .

New Dimensions of Learning: Multiple Intelligence Overview
Following is an overview of the theory of Multiple Intelligences, based on the research of Dr. Howard Gardner, co-director of Harvard's Project Zero. Clicking on the graphic corresponding to an intelligence will take you to a description of the intelligence, some exercises for exploring it, lesson ideas, and links to other sites related to the intelligence.

Learning Strategies
Successful, independent adults are able to look at topics and make informed choices. The GED 2002 recognizes that the acquisition of critical thinking skills is vital and has made it a priority focus. In order to prepare students for the new test, educators need to look at current research and revisit best practices. The following is a list of learning strategies that can be used to enhance instruction and student achievement while promoting critical thinking. It is important to point out that these are strategies for student learning. The particular strategies that work for individual students should be noted by the teacher and student and every effort should be made to get students to take ownership of the strategies that work for them. The adult learner should be encouraged to use the strategies to assist with learning. Note: These strategies are just some examples of what teachers can use in the classroom to enhance student learning and to assist students in building a list of strategies. By no means will all the strategies listed be used in a particular lesson. The goal is to find the strategies that work best for the adult learner and assist them in taking ownership of the strategies.

The bolded strategies are teacher favorites and work well in the adult education classroom.

  • Brainstorming
  • Directed Reading-Thinking Activity
  • Think-Alouds
  • K-W-L
  • Schema Activation Strategy
  • Reciprocal Teaching
  • Request
  • Pre-Reading Plan (PreP)
  • Paraphrasing
  • Self-Questioning
  • Story Mapping
  • Reflecting
  • Outlining and Summarizing
  • Evaluating an Argument
  • Comparing and Contrasting
  • Previewing
  • Contextualizing
  • Questioning to Understand and Remember
  • Picking Apart a Word Problem
  • Writing a Five Paragraph Essay
By utilizing the best practices and encouraging student ownership of these practices, educators can stimulate students to achieve as independent thinkers and to have success on the GED 2002.

Learning Strategies: Tools for Learning to Learn The site defines the purposes of learning strategies instruction, how strategies are taught, types of strategies, arguments that explain and evaluate strategies instruction, and how to implement in the classroom.

Study Guides for Testing, Reading, Writing, and Classroom Participation A field trip to the outside world of learninguuuxxxuuu preparing to learn, studying, preparing for tests, writing skills, participating in classrooms, reading skills, taking tests, writing essays, plus learner self-assessment tools and LOTS of learning strategy links.

Learning Modalities, Styles and Strategies A complete introduction to learning as an educational goal. Includes a reprint of the article "The One Minute Teacher: How To Teach Others to Teach Themselves."

Saturday College Writing & Learning Resource Center: Be An Active Learner To be an active learner, you must do more than read and memorize. Active learning is "thinking!" Specific tips are given for active learning along with the counsel: don't be a passive learner!

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