Creating A Learning Environment

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Creating A Learning Environment

Creating a Learning Environment
We spent a great deal of time discussing learning styles during our first class periods – specifically as relating to adult learning. The focus of this class as evidenced by the title – “College Teaching” – is geared towards the teaching of college students who typically are going to be in the under-30 age bracket. As potential college-level and adult education teachers, I believe we also need to consider the particular motivations of the college students in addition to their learning styles. The motivations may be very different and may not be necessarily age related. Although one certainly cannot customize the class to accommodate the expectations of all class members I do believe it is necessary to understand these specific motivations. It could be that their attendance is due to simply an interest in the subject, a desire to get away from their normal environment, to meet a work requirement or for professional advancement or they just want the social interaction that an adult learning environment provides. Is it possible that at the higher college levels and graduate levels that the “measurement” of the amount of learning that took place during the course could be directly related to this motivation? Seeking to understand this motivation is something that I feel is rarely addressed at the college level and in most adult education environments to which I have been exposed. Perhaps teachers should seek an understanding or at the very least an articulation by the student what his or her expectations are of the class and the teacher and a real assessment by both as to the purpose of the student’s presence in the class. Once again, I understand that as teachers we cannot always take into account everyone’s expectations but at the very least we can challenge the students to think about why they are there and what they expect to learn. In a way this is taking them through the experiential learning cycle prior to the start of the class. The challenge to the students would be to articulate what they expect to do with what they will be learning – how they intend to apply the “experience” of the class they are about to undertake. Perhaps too many times the students come to the classroom with the expectation that the teacher has 100% responsibility to “teach” the students. There is very little prior thought as to why they are here, what they expect to learn and what they will do with what they learned other than to meet some educational requirement – be it degree or work related. What we as teachers ARE 100% responsible for is understanding how to fully engage our students in the class and then how to apply that understanding. I feel the real key to effective teaching at the college and adult education level is to move them towards taking full responsibility for their own learning. We have to move them towards a high level of self-direction in their own educational process by the empowerment that comes from this full engagement and the acceptance of the responsibility I spoke about. As evidenced by the activities during our first two class sessions I believe this class will address the idea of engaging the students. We have discussed several tools that can be used to address different learning styles – what I think is the overall goal that is being expressed here is that we as teachers become “facilitators” of learning rather than lecturers. What I have experienced in my brief exposure to adult education in my current job is that the greatest learning may actually take place among the students rather than between student and teacher. The concepts presented so far in this class address this idea of teacher as facilitator. What I am hearing with the discussions on learning styles and our initial discussions on the purpose of education is that we as teachers must create the appropriate learning environment rather than simply be presenters of material and then quantitative assessors of the intellectual intake. We are hear to facilitate the learning process – the actual “teaching” is done by the students in the classroom. The discussion that

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