With more adult learners looking to re skill, skill up or complete a degree, it’s more crucial than ever for higher education institutions find new ways to attract and retain adult learners. However, teaching adult learners can sometimes present challenges for educators who may be used to teaching traditional, just-out-of high-school freshman.
In an article from eLearning Industry, 8 Important Characteristics of Adult Learners, author Christoforos Pappas outlines some critical traits that make adult learners different from younger, traditionally freshman-age students. Many of these characteristics also align with the benefits of adaptive learning which is increasingly being used as a tool to help adult learners achieve academically.
According to Pappos, “self-assessment, a peer relationship with the instructor, multiple options and initial, yet subtle support” are all important to adult learners’ success. With adaptive learning, adult learners have the ability to test their knowledge in their own time, while also having the ability to reach out to instructors for help during class time.
Practical and Results Oriented
Adult learners prefer active learning and tend not to thrive as well in traditional, lecture-based courses Adaptive learning, provides both the necessary theory and practical application or “learn by doing” activities that many adult learners prefer.
Adult learners are highly motivated individuals. Making the decision to go back to school or upgrade their knowledge and skills in itself requires a great deal of drive and determination. For this reason, it’s important to keep adult learners engaged in what they’re learning. The real time insights generated by adaptive learning software provide motivation for students. They can see where they need to improve, where they are excelling and, if the professor sees fit, they can even see their learning in relation to that of their peers.
As we discussed in one of our recent blog posts, adaptive courseware offers convenience to learners with multiple responsibilities. Adult learners are often balancing work, home and school-related priorities. Many have children, careers, and other obligations to tend to in addition to their school work. Adaptive learning lets them learn when and where is convenient for them, working through modules at their own pace and allowing them to take their time in understanding important concepts.
Adult learners have high expectations for themselves and, also, for their learning experience. They want to ensure that they are learning skills that are most useful to them in the long run and that their valuable time is not wasted. This is why adaptive learning is such an important tool to exercise in approaching adult learners. It adapts to each learner’s individual needs, their own personal learning challenges, and can improve student learning outcomes drastically when used correctly, making reaching those high expectations more achievable!
Because adult learners are making up a larger pool of college applicants, particularly for regional public institutions, it’s critical that educators and administrative leaders consider how best to meet their learning needs, especially when delivering learning online. Adaptive learning technology is one potential solution for its ability help students wherever they may be on their individual learning path.
To learn more about personalizing learning for adults using adaptive learning technology, please see these other blog posts: