Just Tell Me What To Do

In “Engendering Competence Among Adult Learners” a chapter in Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults by Raymond Wlodkowski, he gives readers interested in education tips on how to engage adult learners.

Many students, especially adult returning students, have limited time for their studies. Wlodkowski reminds us:

In some instances, adult learners need courses and training not so much because they them but because they need jobs, the promotions, and the money for which these learning experiences are basic requirements. This is the reality for many adults, and it may be one about which they feel they have little choice. “Just tell me what to do” is their common refrain. The realize the highly controlling nature of some corporate environments is beyond their political or personal influence (p. 312). 

Much of this text is to remind educators about the importance of empathy when many students have not had the experience of controlling, thus succeeding in education. In addition, he tries to give educators strategies for helping their adult students who are often burdened by their additional responsibilities.

He writes,

The strategies that relate to the motivational purposes of respect, self-efficacy, expectancy for success, and deepening engagement and challenge are most effective in this regard (p. 312).

Much of his advice is based on the face-to-face model of teaching yet the advice is transferrable and meaningful to online course designers and faculty.

See also The Five Pillars of Motivating Instruction

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