Monday, February 27, 2012

Tips for Adult Learners

In my experience as an adult educator and life-long learner, I have found that adult learners returning to formal study for the first time, have often had negative learning experiences at school, and as a result of this, they lack confidence when it comes to studying and learning. These barriers to learning need to be addressed. Being an adult learner is different to learning at school:

    As an adult learner you bring with you many life experiences, and these experiences will assist you in your studies
    You will probably be more motivated than you were at school - most adult learners have a reason for learning, ie goals.
    You will find that you have many more demands on your time, therefore planning and time management skills are critical to your success.
    You are responsible for your own learning.

Six Tips for Adult Learners

1. Ask for help

Don't try to be superman - let your family and friends help you! Don't be too proud to accept help if it is offered, or to ask for help if you need it.

2. Time management

Most adult learners have very busy lives as they juggle work, family and other commitments with the demands of studying. It is critical that you have a timetable for studying. Get a diary and schedule in your classes. Block out time for regular study and record the due date of your assignments. Do not procrastinate - make your learning a priority!

3. You are responsible for your learning

Learning is a two-way process. Your teachers will impart their knowledge, but you need to make sure that you learn it. You are responsible for your learning, and for ensuring that you understand and process the new information.

4. Be an Active Listener

Being an active listener does not mean sitting quietly, it means to be focused on listening, taking relevant notes, and asking questions if you need clarification. A Samoan lady that I was teaching once relayed the following story:

5. Take notes, or create mind maps

During your class, or lecture, make sure that you take written notes on important topics. You won't remember everything that is discussed in class, so it is important that you record the information that you need.

An alternative to writing notes, is creating mind maps. A mind map is a visual representation, and is a good alternative to writing pages of notes. Visual learners often find that mind maps make information more memorable, and therefore easier to recall, that written notes.

6. Don't Let Your Fears Wreck Your Opportunities

In order to learn we must take risks and try new things. When we try new things we often make mistakes, and we learn from our mistakes. If you are not making mistakes, you are not learning. It is okay to mistakes!

When you first start a course of learning it can seem quite daunting and the end result may seem a long way away. As you progress, you will become familiar with the learning programme and comfortable with your teacher and other students. It is important to have a positive attitude and keep your end goal in sight. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes.

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