LESSON PLANNING: Motivational Techniques

This University of Maryland Baltimore College user page discusses motivation of adult learners. It outlines motivators, strategies, environment, and obstacles.

A few strategies listed from Wlodkowski include:

  • Establish Inclusion
  • Develop a Positive Attitude
  • Enhance Meaning
  • Engender Competence

I found two examples within establish inclusion very enlightening – multidimensional sharing and participation guidelines.

Multidimensional sharing, for example, executed early in the class through a brief introduction outlining expectations, concerns and hopes for the class can build a connection early on between the students and the instructor.

Also, setting participation guidelines can establish a clear vision of acceptable and unacceptable interactions and discussions that will ensure a safe environment that is conducive to participation. It can also help keep the class on point.

LESSON PLANNING: Creating a Positive Learning Environment

Creating a positive learning environment in adult education begins with understanding the difference between pedagogy and androgogy. This Brighthub blog post clarifies that the pedagogy model with the instructor at the center is necessary because the children have little to no previous learning. On the other hand, androgogy is practiced in adult education with the understanding of the students prior learning and life experience.

A few recommendations of:

  • Recognizing previous experience
  • Outline clear expectations
  • Create a safe and positive environment
  • Maintain respect and privacy

are all great suggests to foster a safe, positive and productive learning environment.

LESSON PLANNING: Bloom’s Taxonomy

Jennifer Field makes valid points on Bloom’s taxonomy in her post on “Overcoming Cooking Intimidation: Understanding Bloom’s Taxonomy”. Trained pastry chef with a master’s degree in special education, she relates Bloom’s theories to a culinary student’s learning experience.

Beginning with the first level of each domain, she presents the potential challenges that can inhibit a new cook from learning and moving on to the next level.

More importantly, when describing the three domains, she states:

“…that none exists in a vacuum.  Our heads, hearts and bodies are all interconnected. And that means that our heads, hearts and bodies all have to be involved in learning every skill.”

This is a reminder that we cannot focus on one aspect of learning with realizing how connected is to other aspects.

Web-Conferencing: Learning Face to Face in the Digital Age

Video conferencing is not necessarily new or cutting edge technology anymore. With Skype and Face Time making it accessible to consumers, I’m certain many have used it to speak with friends and family near or far.

I’ve used web-conferencing for business a few times – interviews and meetings. I like the integration of video technology into business and education. Relationships are in important in both. Face to face communication helps to develop common ground, recognize differences, and build trust. It can be difficult to develop a relationship through email or over the phone when missing the visual cues that give us insight into a person’s character.

Meeting with my class partner was great. I was fortunate to be paired with another chef who is also new to teaching. He is teaching in the aboriginal school. With his blog, he has been exploring the history, current challenges and successes, and future of education of the First Nations people.

I came away from our conversation with new insight in cultural educational differences and adaptions for a changing society. Societies developed unique methods of education based on beliefs and environment. As countries expanded through colonization, a different approach to teaching was mandated. This led to a legacy of difficulties and a broken system. As societies revisit and implement traditional teaching methods, the challenge will be to blend in skills and knowledge components to prepare students for success in today’s world.

You can see his website and follow his learning journey here.

Trends: Accommodating the Adult Student’s Schedule

My grandfather worked for the same company for over 30 years. After five years, he was promoted to a supervisor. His skill set plateaued for the remainder of his career. It wasn’t until after he retired that they implemented computers into the company. Ironically, it wasn’t until after then that he and my grandmother purchased their first computer and enrolled in class to learn to use it.

My father has had many jobs from helicopter pilot to security guard to government employee. With each change, there was some level of educational requirement. He admitted that heading back to school was not easy, especially when he was often the only older student in the class and the education was limited to night classes at the community college.

A 2011 article from The Atlantic describes the changes taking place in the higher education demographics. Citing statistics from The National Center for Education Statistics, the findings revealed that, at the time, there were 17.6 million undergrads enrolled in higher education (in the US). Based on that number:

  • 15% were enrolled in four-year programs
  • 43% were enrolled in two-year programs
  • 37% were enrolled part time
  • 32% worked full time
  • 38% are over the age of 25

The changing landscape in the workforce, technology and the economy set the stage for education requirements. Changes in these factors create new trends in adult education. One key change is the increase in certificate or diploma programs. Programs that are shorter and accommodate busy schedules of the adult student.

Attending school at an older age can be difficult with time restraints, family and career responsibilities. Education facilities that are trending towards making learning more accessible to the adult student are spearheading the change in the education as we know it.

New Insights: The Generation Gap in the Classroom

I attended pastry school later in life. Being 25 at the time, there were only one or two students older than myself. But since I had more life experience than the younger 75% of my class, I lumped myself in with the “older” students. I’m familiar with what it’s like to be an older student in the classroom.

In the year that I have been teaching, I’ve experienced classrooms full of many generations with varying degrees and varying degrees of life experience. Teaching so many different age groups, I find, can be challenging. There are days that I’m stepping far outside the lines of my definition of teacher.

I teach pastry which is a trade that involves a lot of hands on learning, yet there is also a fair amount of theory to teach. It’s hard to trouble shoot a fallen soufflé if you don’t understand the science behind the ingredients and baking reactions. In the hands-on portion, there is a lot of multi tasking, time management and time constraints – all of this equals a lot of pressure.

Although I don’t believe in the categorization of the cohorts, I do recognize patterns. The younger students prefer to work in teams, are tech savvy, and are focused on grades; however, they can often struggle with timing, problem solving and communicating (face to face). The older students see successes in the latter areas that the younger students struggled with, but struggle with technology and testing.

With all students, I find myself doing a lot of coaching, guiding and comforting.

In an article I came across “Teaching Strategies for Adult Learners,” Doherty recommends some teaching strategies for adult learners. His strategies are summarized by

  • Respecting the adult learners’ experience
  • Being supportive
  • Accepting and addressing technology gaps
  • Respecting the adult learners’ time
  • Thinking outside the box

The recommendation I take from the article is to include personal growth in the final grade. I think this can help with students of all ages to focus on the positive aspects of their learning experience.