Five Instructional Techniques Adult Learners Must Know

Posted by on February 16th, 2017

There is a positive correlation between student learning and motivation. When adult students take ownership of their learning, their motivation increases.

This ownership is achieved in several ways including setting goals, realizing how they personally learn best and identifying relevance of concepts.

Certain instructional techniques have proven effective for this shift in ownership. Among the strategies for adult learners are note-taking, mind maps, role play, case studies and progressive revelation.

  1. Note-taking – Note-taking is a long standing, yet effective instructional method. Taking notes moves students from a passive role into a more active role. The effort creates a repetition of information in the learner’s mind and provides another resource for student engagement with the concepts.
  2. Mind Maps – Mind mapping is a way to visually sort ideas and information. Though simplistic at first glance, mind maps assist learners with processing large amounts of information more effectively. The structure of mind maps allows students to generate ideas and classify content while avoiding information overload. Students are able to see the big picture of a concept at a glance.
  3. Role Play – Role play is a learner-centered approach. Teachers assign a persona to students in a real-life simulation. Their actions and decisions in the simulation allow them to see how their knowledge impacts a specific context. In addition to the retention of more information, role playing promotes communication skills and draws on prior knowledge. Students are able to prepare for the real-world by making and correcting mistakes during role play.
  4. Case Studies – Case studies are stories designed to enhance critical thinking and decision making skills. Case studies can be real or fictitious, but usually propose a realistic dilemma. Because there is no clear-cut answer, adult learners are forced to use information from their prior experience plus skills learned in the classroom to accomplish the real-life tasks presented.
  5. Progressive Revelation – Progressive revelation is a technique used to show learners one portion of information at a time rather than presenting large overwhelming chunks at once. The technique is especially effective with visual information as it provides an opportunity for students to think and process. Examples of this instructional method are showing one part of a diagram and breaking content up into multiple slides. Progressive revelation helps encode information to long-term memory.

Motivated students learn best. Effective learning strategies boost their success and strengthen their motivation. Strategies like role play and the use of case studies work well for adult learners.

These two learning techniques provide relevance for students. Mind maps, note-taking and progressive revelation promote organization of learned content. By employing these and similar strategies in your classroom, you are encouraging the shift of ownership from instructor to learner.

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