2.1 Characteristics of Adult Learners and Qualities of a Good Instructor
Many adult literacy programmes often teach adults in the same way as children are taught. This topic highlights the most important characteristics of adult learners as well as qualities of a good instructor which must be borne in mind while handling adults in training programmes.
By the end of the topic, the participants should be able to:
• describe the main characteristics of adult learners.
c) Time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
d) Learning Aids: Hand-outs on characteristics of adult learners, newsprint, blackboard, markers, chalk, role cards, etc.
e) Procedures and Learning Points:
1) [30 min.] Ask the participants to identify the characteristics of adult learners.
Some characteristics related to an adult as an individual:
- slowness in learning.
Those related to the adult’s experience:
- Has a lot of knowledge through past interactions.
Those related to what should be learned:
- Prefers to learn things related to key interests.
Those related to time when different activities are performed:
- Prefers to learn things related to current concerns.
To be able to facilitate well, the necessary attitudes and skills are vital.
(Adapted from UCBHCA: Training of Facilitators Manual).
It is essential for the trainers to have an open and friendly relationship between themselves and the learners based on respect and equality. This brings about an atmosphere of respect, acceptance and encouragement where people feel free to ask questions and share ideas.
This creates an atmosphere which makes learning interesting and worthwhile and also encourages the learners to decide what topics to discuss. In this way, the topics discussed are relevant and useful to the learners.
2. [40 min.] Use two role plays followed by a discussion.
Role Play One: Have one participant to act as an instructor with “a group of learners” in class. Let him/her be rude to and disrespectful of the adult learners. Instead of learning from the experience of learners, he is totally negative of their contributions. The learning situation should be very poor indeed - poor physical structure, poor seating arrangement, etc.
Role Play Two: Another participant plays the role of a good instructor - ready to share with the learners in what they contribute, is respectful, asks them what they want to learn, and abides by the previous characteristics already mentioned in the brainstorm.
Then have a discussion on the best learning situation conducive to adult learning based on the two role plays.
Instructor must develop qualities such as being:
- knowledgeable about the subject matter.
f) [20 min.] Assessment:
Participants are asked how the mentioned characteristics facilitate or discourage adult learning.
Ask participants to design tools (personal assessment forms) which they will use in improving their performance like the one below:
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