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Celebrate Adult Students’ Success on the Path to HSE

Posted by on November 12th, 2015

Students respond differently to instructional methods, motivational strategies and rewards that the instructor employs. Adult students appreciate recognition as much as younger students, but there is often variation in how they’d like to be recognized. Good instructors have a toolkit full of ways to recognize adult students’ success on the path to HSE.

Seven Ways to Celebrate

  1. Special Events: Hold regular awards ceremonies. Recognize and applaud each student who has met specified goals. For example, honor those who have achieved a certain average, reached their highest grade, or kept up their attendance. By acknowledging different criteria at the same time, you reward different paths to success simultaneously.
  2. Picture Success: Create presentation boards or charts demonstrating individual and team goals. Add a sticker or other mark when goals are reached so progress is easily tracked. Include photos of the participants. Alternatively, you might award points for reaching goals with a celebration when the point total reaches a specific number.
  3. Recognize Small Achievements: Support specific goals, like the best written paragraph, most accurate map, fullest reading comprehension, and so on. Rewarding small steps points the way to larger successes. Recognition could be as simple as a class announcement or individual pat on the back from you before class disperses.
  4. Share Rewards: Try to recognize specific student achievements in a way that will motivate others to reach their goals. The honored student will appreciate being the center of attention, emphasizing the specific ways other students can compete at the same level.
  5. Feedback: Use feedback on specific assignments or instructional benchmarks to praise a student while using their work to coach other students. Prepare the feedback in visual form, so students can see what you mean. You might, for example, review a particular student’s math problem on a whiteboard or screen so everyone can see the steps used to complete a solution. Always get student permission before sharing their work with the class.
  6. Big Picture: Keep reminding students of their long-term success plans. Have them commit to an understanding of how a specific course or program contributes to their long-term goals. Help them make connections in class that link their real life work experiences with the course demands and outcomes.
  7. Socialize Success: Where your class and curriculum permit, take advantage of social media to recognize and reward. Putting praise where it can be seen by everyone puts pride where it works best. Be sure the means to achievement is simple, clear, and understood by all – and that you address privacy concerns.

It can be a challenge to manage a reward and recognition system with consistency. If you schedule the recognition as a regular part of the class, it becomes a natural and expected way to motivate students. Tap into the universal human drive to succeed and be recognized and your students will soon be rushing toward the finish line.

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