Posted by Christy Williams on November 1st, 2015
Instructional leaders have a responsibility for creating learning atmospheres that foster student growth. Studies have shown there are specific elements that are most conducive to making this growth evident within adult learning programs. The overarching theme is creating a student-centered environment versus a faculty-centered program. The components range from associated feelings in the environment to how information is delivered within the program.
Safe and Supportive
Students experience growth in environments where they feel safe and supported. In this type of environment, their individual needs and uniqueness are honored. The safe and supportive environment recognizes and acknowledges the students’ individual abilities and life achievements. Classrooms filled with these elements invite students to feel uninhibited in shortcomings and proud of achievements. Students are less likely to be open in environments where they don’t feel judged.
Intellectual Freedom is Fostered
Adult learners thrive in environments where intellectual freedom is fostered. Creativity and experimentation are also encouraged within the program. Students are more likely to share ideas and try new approaches.
Faculty Treats Adults as Peers
Because adult teachers and learners are on the same level in society, it is important that the teachers treat students as their peers. There is an exchange that takes place when adult learners are accepted and respected as intelligent experienced adults by their instructors. It is also necessary for instructors to listen to, honor, and appreciate the opinions of their adult pupils within the learning environment.
Within effective learning environments students take responsibility for their own learning. They work with faculty to develop individual learning programs that will meet their needs and assist them with their career goals.
Pacing, or intellectual challenge, teaches learners just beyond their current ability. Optimal pacing requires a balance so that the learner is neither too bored nor overly frustrated with the material. Proper pacing within a learning environment produces intellectual stimulation.
Active Learning Environment
Passive lectures are removed as the primary method of instructional delivery in quality learning programs. Instead, active learning environments offer dialogue and interaction between teacher and student. Students can try new ideas in the workplace and use exercises and their experiences to promote growth. Students tend to retain more information learned in more hands-on settings.
Regular feedback is presented from the student perspective in effective learning programs. Students share what works best for their learning experience. They share with instructors what they need and want to learn. Instructors then use this information to tailor their plans accordingly.