The following generalizations on adult education provide an excellent framework for developing curriculum intended for adult students. The suggested teaching materials and teaching techniques presented below are guidelines for the instructor to consider when preparing to teach the lessons found on the Distance Learning CD. This material should be viewed as a starting point. Use your own ideas to supplement these tips and techniques to make the class enjoyable and fun.
NOTE: This information has been adapted from the Civil Air Patrol text, "Leadership: 2000 And Beyond."
Suggested Teaching Materials
Prior to teaching a lesson you should consider having the following material available for the classroom and the students: dry erase board with an assortment of dry erase markers (or chalkboard with chalk), overhead projector with associated transparencies from the Power Point slides (if you have the capability to project the slides from the computer, either onto a TV or screen, that would be optimum), pen and paper for the students, and a printout of the Instructor Guide for your reference. Each Instructor Guide for the lessons will list any additional teaching material you will need to teach the class.
Generalizations on Adult Education
Definition: Adult education is the process through which adults have and use opportunities to learn systematically under the guidance of an organization, teacher, supervisor, trainer, or leader. It is a cycle of planning, conducting and evaluating learning activities. It requires guidance by the teacher or trainer. It is concerned with purposeful guided learning. It is usually ungraded.
1. Adult learning is problem centered: an adult expects the learning to fit into daily life.
2. Adults use previous experiences to learn new material.
3. Adults have likes and dislikes with dislikes getting stronger with age.
4. Adults are extremely sensitive to failure in the learning situation.
5. The most effective learning environment for adults is one where leadership is shared.
6. Many adults doubt their ability to learn.
7. Physical factors can impair learning.
8. Adults expect the answers they get to be correct and work. They are often goal directed.
9. Adults in the learning environment will vary widely in age, experience, motivation and goals.
10. The learning strategy (methods and techniques) should be suited to the learner, not the learner to the strategy.
11. Learning for an adult is a slow, evolutionary undertaking that requires time to ripen.
12. Adults affected by instructional decisions should be able to influence those decisions.
13. Adults need to be respected in the learning environment for choosing to be present.
14. Adults control their own learning. The teacher/trainer is a facilitator of learning, not a "teller" of facts.
The job of the director or segment instructor is to present the material in an efficient, yet entertaining manner. First, know the material. Become familiar with this material, and find some supporting material to help answer any questions that may arise.
Second, tailor the school to fit the needs of the students. Though 50 minutes for each class is recommended, you may want to extend a class if students will need more time.
Don't let one student dominate the class. Make sure everyone participates. By that same token, don't give a monologue either. The easiest way to lose your students is to bore them.
The following are some short hints on different teaching techniques. You can use a variety of these techniques to be effective.
Always remember that in a way when you try to teach a subject, you are trying to sell the idea to the students. Students adopt the ideas and practices presented and use them in their own squadrons. Sell them ideas by explaining them to the students, pointing out the pros and cons, then allow the students to discuss the applications so they come to an understanding of what is the best course of action for them. This doesn't have to be a hard sell, but it does necessitate that you as the instructor believe in the subject matter and be flexible enough to allow an exchange of ideas.
Presentations in General
Presentation techniques can be used for virtually any group, from the small group to as many as several hundred. There are many ways to effectively present to groups, and many things to remember. For now however, here are seven hints which will help you to prepare to speak in front of the class.
Know your subject: Review or research any part of your subject you are unsure about. You must be ready to find the answer to any question that may arise. You are there as the expert.
Be prepared: Make sure to have all the materials needed to teach the class. Do you have all necessary handouts? Is your audiovisual equipment working? Do you have a back up system should the primary fail? Is there a review prepared? Do you feel comfortable with the material to be presented, as well as the teaching method?
Appearance: How do you look? Is your uniform in order? Are you well groomed? Do you look rested and in control, or nervous? How is your posture? If you were the student, what kind of first impression would you draw?
Presentation: Don't read your entire presentation verbatim. Do not distract your audience with nervous mannerisms or inappropriate dress. Introduce your subject. Have your outline handy for easy reference. Speak clearly and loud enough to be heard and understood by all; and, be sure to maintain eye contact with the audience.
Teaching Aids: Do not turn your back to the audience when using teaching aids. Be familiar with all the equipment. Ensure your teaching aids assist but don't detract from the presentation. As before, always have a back up plan.
Feedback: Ask questions, use a case study, or call for discussion. Review the subject before ending the class, and always try to promote some kind of interaction with the class. Act as the "devil's advocate" within discussion to stimulate creative thought. Ask for feedback not only on subject matter but also on the quality of the presentation. Look at both positive and negative feedback equally.
Evaluation: As the director or instructor, you will need to evaluate both yourself and your students. This is where feedback is especially helpful. There are two types of evaluations: formal and informal. An example of the formal evaluation is the course critique you will administer at the conclusion of this course. Informal evaluations include verbal comments during the class, at breaks, and at the conclusion of the course. These are sometimes more candid than the formal critiques.
Characteristics of a Good Speaker
To be effective when teaching by lecture you must be a good speaker. Eighty percent of all communication is speaking. A highly competent speaker must have three fundamental qualities: integrity, knowledge, and skill.
Integrity: Integrity is truth, honesty. If what you say is unworthy, your students will not accept it. If they feel you believe what you say, they will believe it also. Be sure to remember the effect of your instruction outside the classroom. Your students will notice if you don't "walk the walk", so if you teach something, practice it yourself. If you are arrogant, hostile, fearful or do not build confidence, your listeners may also close their minds to your message.
Knowledge: Know both the material to be presented and know the audience. Find out what they already know about the subject, and how they will react to the presentation.
Since all your speaking is an effort to get a response from your students, know something about their behaviors and characteristics. For instance, determine whether they will be hostile to a particular concept, so you can look for ways to explore the idea differently.
Skill: The material must be organized both for the audience and for the instructor. Next is good delivery. It cannot substitute for good organization, but the way ideas are projected should have dignity, force, and effectiveness. A third skill is handling questions. Anticipate questions and insert the answers into the presentation. Also, prepare a reservoir of facts to augment the presentation.
Developing the Lecture
Before sitting down to write the lesson plan, ask some questions about subject, purpose, and situation. When thinking about the subject, think in terms of the interests and needs of the students. While students have a responsibility to listen to the presentation, know that they will probably be more attentive if they are also interested in the subject matter.
Limit the subject by thinking about the student's needs, level of proficiency desired and the amount of time available to deliver the class. Instructors can add their own information to the material we provide, but remember that brevity may be the best course. Keep it pertinent.
Remember that the purpose is to encourage students to adopt these ideas as worthy of application. Read the class material thoroughly before beginning, to develop an action plan to achieve the lesson's objectives.
Every class is different, in terms of the students' intellectual and experience level, and temperament, as well as instructor experience, and their relationship with students. Sometimes, there is no cookie-cutter solution, response, or presentation. Students may want to focus on a different aspect of the subject than a previous class did. Be ready to roll with the punches. Recognize that students differ in abilities and other characteristics that affect their learning. Instructors should not accept teaching methods and curricula as they stand if they do not produce the desired learning outcomes (results).
Most of the information needed is included in the lesson material. Instructors can probably teach this course solely from the materials provided. But personalize the lessons for the students. Draw on your own experience or the experience of others. Draw from class experience to be effective. Don't be afraid to change material as time goes on, this is a constant improvement process. The materials provided are organized to make it easy for instructors to deliver. It should be a straightforward process to develop a lesson plan.
Introduction: Remember to make an effective introduction. Arouse curiosity, and establish the tone for the class. This is when students will listen most closely, so make it count.
Body: The body has been provided. The most effective tools are the slides and the instructor guide. By the way, the slides are memory joggers, not the class itself. Do the legwork before you begin by preparing a complete lesson plan, supplemented by the slides.
Conclusion: The conclusion you create should be brief, and should review the main points. Suggested questions, case studies, and critiques to facilitate the process have been provided.
Making the Presentation
Most people become nervous when in front of a group. Relieve some of the natural nervousness by knowing the material, and by being enthusiastic about the subject. It's also a good idea to rehearse the presentation before actually going in front of the class. Consider using a tape or video recorder to rehearse. Begin by drawing a breath and releasing it slowly. It calms you down at the last minute and helps to focus.
Don't focus on yourself as you present the material. Remember to focus your attention both on the subject matter and on your audience.
It's okay to move around the classroom. Move purposefully, use movement to emphasize important points. Move from behind the desk or podium to get "closer" to the students.
Maintain eye contact with the audience. Look at several people at different points around the room. If you feel uncomfortable with this, look just above their heads. Do not look at the floor, constantly at your notes, at a single point in the room, or off into space. Maintaining eye contact also gives you non-verbal feedback. You can see if the students are listening.
Remember the power of your voice. A presentation voice has three important characteristics: quality, intelligibility, and variety. Think about some of the more effective speakers you have heard. What made them pleasant to listen to? Now, think of some of the poorer speakers you've heard, and what you remember about them.
Finally, speak casually, yet be prepared to speak. Reading from a manuscript or directly from the text lends to a very rigid presentation. There is too much material to memorize.
It is especially important that you both be clear on the class' purpose and that you know the composition, experience level, and behavior of the class. This will tell you how far to take the discussion, and how much facilitation you will have to provide.
Use the checklist below as a guide for conducting any training session:
- Arrive early!
- In advance, coordinate with key people in the group to start on time.
- Prepare to be deeply involved with the seminar topic and getting the students to talk productively.
- Ensure that facilities are adequate and ready to use.
- Check your facility's setup.
- Help members to get to know one another.
- Introduce the topic. State your objectives - be factual, but brief. Stick to the purpose.
- Ask well-planned questions. Write them out. Rehearse.
- Be a good listener, open minded and objective. Avoid taking sides.
- Avoid using sarcasm, ridicule, judgment, or argument when guiding the discussion. Do not demean anyone.
- Involve all members of the group.
- Think ahead of the group and lead by asking open-ended questions.
- Encourage members to participate. Establish an attitude on common helpfulness.
- Be sensitive to group actions and reactions. Attempt to understand what lies behind the words of each student.
- Understand individual behavior and change the behavior if necessary so the group can achieve its purposes.
- Be honest when you do not know. Avoid quibbling, anger, and personal affront.
- Be friendly, calm, and attentive. If humor seems appropriate, be sure the story can relate to the topic. It must be in good taste. Do not tell off-color jokes.
- Use words the students understand.
- Keep control of the group process. Summarize the points covered and keep the discussion directed toward the seminar and learning objectives.
- Avoid letting one student control the discussion.
- Make a final summary and relate the progress of the students to goal achievement.
- Close on time.
- Help evaluate the seminar by completing required reports, rating forms, comments, and record of student responses.
Selection of Teaching Methods
Consider using these techniques while teaching these lessons to your unit. In this last section, other teaching tools are presented which may be used in the future.
The lecture is the most common teaching technique. It is basically a one way conversation, with the instructor providing the information to the students. There is generally little opportunity for direct feedback, but is very effective when teaching new concepts, or when time precludes using other methods.
The seminar requires as much preparation as a lecture; but is more of a free form way of teaching the subject matter. As the instructor, your responsibility is to guide the discussion while at the same time covering the main points of the lesson. It is the preferred format for teaching these lessons.
Several case studies have been provided for use in a few of the lessons. The case study is a learning experience where a real life situation is used to more effectively teach procedures, concepts, patterns of behavior, or other courses of action. This method challenges the students by getting them involved and applying their knowledge and experience to learn something new. Cases may deal with one or many skills; and can be discussed in the classroom and/or given as a handout for future reference.
Panel discussions are either structured or unstructured and takes place between two or more experts. Constructive arguments by each panel members are presented using debate, response to questions from the instructor (moderator) an/or the audience, a pre-planned agenda, a fixed or random number of speakers, or free discussion. As an example, many Sunday morning television news programs use this format effectively.
Panel discussions are different from seminar discussions in that in the panel discussion the experts present their views, versus the seminar in which the students themselves debate the question or topic.
Practical exercises differ from case studies in large part because they are usually developed to set up a learning situation, or concentrate on hands-on skills. They can involve field trips, simulations, and role-playing.
Field trips bring the learning environment to the student. Here, students interact with people, places, things, and situations which helps enable to attain your educational objective. Here, the settings are the primary teaching tool, because students can be enveloped in the desired environment.
Simulations are low-risk, educational experiences that substitute for some real-life situations. They involve any number of people and topics, and usually supplement what is learned in the classroom. More elaborate versions may involve special equipment, specially trained staff, or special sites.
Role playing exercises requires students to project themselves into a simulated interpersonal situation and play the parts of the persons and situations assigned by you. For this reason, it has the potential of providing more personal experience than can be achieved by using the case study. Role-playing is mostly used to practice skills in counseling, interviewing, and conference leadership. As the instructor, point out good or bad points and steer the action. This type of exercise could be very useful to use in the "Committed Volunteer" segment.
While these descriptions have been short, they certainly aren't all the teaching techniques available. They should provide a foundation for you to begin mapping out how to teach these lessons.
The instructor guides provided in this course use different segments to guide you through the class itself. What follows is a brief explanation of the terms you will see used in the lesson plans.
ATTENTION: The attention step is intended to catch the student's interest. An attention step is included in each lesson, but instructors are encouraged to develop local attention statements to supplement the lesson.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives includes a brief review of the main points to be covered in the lesson.
SUMMARY: The summary reviews the main points at the end of the lesson and ties the lesson together.
Teaching can be a very rewarding experience. Applying the tips and techniques presented in this guide will help you present the material in such a way that the students will grasp the main points and enjoy it at the same time. As the instructor you should have fun with the class, material, and students. Go for it!