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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Profile of Adult Learners

As the economy worsens, and employers concern about the lack of skilled workers increases, adult learners are flocking to community colleges. Most of these adults were taught in a traditional and passive classroom, and the online learning environment is a new realm for them to explore. They can be successful but need your help.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “nontraditional” students have several traits in common. These traits can include:
  • Attend college part time
  • Work full time even while taking college classes
  • Are financially independent
  • Have a family and other commitments
  • May be a single parent
  • Lack standard high school education
  • Delayed enrollment into college
Even though most adult learners are voluntarily entering the education process, their responsibilities (families and jobs) and situations (transportation, child care, and the need to earn an income) can create obstacles in their progress. The aging process itself may present another obstacle for the adult learner. Psychomotor skills are acquired more slowly than younger students. It may be harder for the adult student to manipulate the mouse or to spend time reading material online. Images and text may be more difficult to see on the computer screen. The adult learner may also have emotional barriers to online education. Many adult learners did not grow up with computers, so the technology is new and different, which presents an added obstacle to learning the actual content of the course. However, it isn’t all gloom and doom! Most adult learners are highly motivated and task-orientated which helps them overcome some of these obstacles.

Pedagogy vs. Andragogy or Directed vs. Facilitative Learning
Most of us have heard the term pedagogy, the art or science of teaching. More specifically, pedagogy refers to the art or science of teaching children. However, the techniques and strategies used to teach children do not always lend themselves to teaching adults. Therefore, we employ the term andragogy, the methods or techniques used to teach adults.



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