7 Principles for Best Practice in Adult Learning

"The root of true achievement lies in the will to become the best that you can become." - Harold Taylor

As many of us are involved in training and other facilitated activities, I thought this article would be of interest. It is academic in origin but very applicable to training.

1. Encourages Contact Between Students and Faculty

Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement. Faculty concern helps students get through difficult times and keep on working. Knowing a few faculty members well enhances students¡¯ intellectual commitment and encourages them to think about their own values and future plans.

2. Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students

Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement in learning. Sharing one¡¯s own ideas and responding to others¡¯ reactions sharpens thinking and deepens understanding.

3. Encourages Active Learning

Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.

4. Gives Prompt Feedback

Knowing what you know and don¡¯t know focuses learning. Students need appropriate feedback on performance to benefit from courses. When getting started, students need help in assessing existing knowledge and competence. In classes, students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive suggestions for improvement. At various points during college, and at the end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how to assess themselves.

5. Emphasizes Time on Task

Time plus energy equals learning. There is no substitute for time on task. Learning to use one¡¯s time well is critical for students and professionals alike. Students need help in learning effective time management. Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning for students and effective teaching for faculty. How an institution defines time expectations for students, faculty, administrators, and other professional staff can establish the basis for high performance for all.

6. Communicates High Expectations

Expect more and you will get more. High expectations are important for everyone-for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations of themselves and make extra efforts.

7. Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

There are many roads to learning. People bring different talents and styles of learning to college. Brilliant students in the seminar room may make careless mistakes in the lab or art studio. Students rich in hands-on experience may not do well with theory. Students need the opportunity to show their talents and learn in ways that are individual to them. Then they can be pushed to learning in new ways that do not come so easily.

( Source: "Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson. An extensive review of education literature spanning 50 years in the twentieth century. Summary by Sam Jones.)

Warwick John Fahy is a professional speech coach and expert in presentation skills, public speaking and communication skills. You can contact him for more information. http://asiapacific.ecademy.com/node.php?id=53618

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