5 Ways to Engage Adult Learners

Dec 15, 2023
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As an experienced educator, you may know that adult learners are completely different from younger students. While younger students accept whatever teaching style is thrown their way, it can be more difficult to engage an adult learner. View these learners as consumers—they are typically in your class voluntarily, and they want to make sure that they get the most out of learning for their time and money. How can you keep this unique and diverse group of learners engaged?

Here are five simple tips to implement in your classroom:

  1. Make it relevant. Adult learners need more context and relevance in their learning compared to younger students. When creating a lesson, consider the relevancy of the information you’re going to be teaching. Also, consider the primary learning objectives of your students, and make sure that your curriculum serves those needs well. Adult learners want the information to be delivered in a focused and relevant manner.

  2. Provide plenty of practice opportunities. Practice makes perfect, especially for adult learners. Make sure that there is plenty of practice time built into your lessons. Ensure that your learners fully understand a topic before moving on. Repetition is key in the adult learning process.

  3. Facilitate group discussion and interaction. Group interaction is important to the learning process. Let your learners discuss topics to learn from each other and to develop important career soft skills. Be sure to act as a moderator during these group discussions to give everyone a chance to speak his or her mind and feel included in the conversation.

  4. Understand that adult learners need flexible and diverse resources. Adult learners are faced with unique challenges, background experiences, and skill gaps. Provide diverse learning options for your learners to keep them engaged and focused on the material in your curriculum. Flexible and wide-ranging resources can help learners master skills they haven’t already obtained and keep them from becoming bored.

  5. Personalize your instruction through assessments. Determine what resources should be used for which learner through periodical assessments. Use a system of benchmarking assessments to help you drive instruction through data. Assessments, whether summative or formative, are the most accurate way to pinpoint students’ strengths and gaps and to inform your decisions. Ultimately, they will help you appropriately place your learners in the curriculum.

Looking for more ways to enhance your teaching with data and assessments? Check out these five tips to improve student outcomes with data!

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