Creating a Positive Environment for Adult Learners

Posted by: Nesha Milicevic

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To create a positive learning environment an instructor has to always be available. My Students can always approach me and count on my help. Also, I take the first few minutes in class to engage my Students in casual conversation. I will ask them about their day and if they have anything exciting going on for the rest of the week. We’ll talk about gaming, music, television shows, sports, movies, and anything else they want to discuss. Sometimes it’s only a couple of minutes with a handful of Students or a larger class discussion on something in the news, but this is something I always do in class. Creating a positive learning environment will allow Students to feel comfortable, safe and engaged – something that all Students deserve. In a classroom where values and roles remain constant and focus is placed on the positive aspects of learning, Students will be more open to actively participating in class. If they are given the opportunity to become responsible for their own learning, Students will more likely benefit from the lesson, and thus more likely be self-motivated. This should be a primary goal for all instructors, since lack of motivation is often the root of disciplinary issues. Standards and values in the classroom need to remain consistent so that Students know what to expect and what is expected of them. It is important that Students know that theirs is an inclusive, respectful, community-oriented environment. The ambience in the classroom needs to be right; it should be a dynamic and engaging place for Students. Adult education is a practice in which adults engage in systematic and sustained self–educating activities in order to gain new forms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values.

The instructor needs to be:

  • Respectful – for Student’s self-directed learning. They have to see themselves as a resource for learning rather than an instructor that has all the answers.
  • Engaged – in a dialog between equals with learners. Open to new ideas and allows Students to experiment.
  • Flexible – staying positive and seeing mistakes as opportunities for learning.

The main motivation for adult learners will come from the understanding of why they need to learn and how it relates to their job and real life situations. This is why the learning objectives need to be clearly defined, and everything needs to be explained in detail. Because they are adult learners they already come with a certain level of knowledge, and it is our job as instructors to tie this into new ideas.

To create a positive learning environment, the instructor needs to implement the flowing techniques:

  • Provide concrete examples. Every learning theory has to be accompanied by real life situations, this helps Students relate and realize that this is not just another theory.
  • At the end of every module take the time to revisit and reinforce the learning. Talk about the module and what the takeaways are from it, what we have learned and whether we have a proper understanding of how relevant it is.
  • Make sure that the learners are engaged. Every adult learner is very self-directed, and they like to be in control, so allowing them to explore is a powerful motivational tool for them, and ensures that they will reach their goal more efficiently.

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