The Importance of Connection

For the past few years, we have seen an increase in the number of adults coming back to school to learn a new skill. These skills will expand their opportunities in the career they are currently working in or to pursue a new career path. Many of these adult students have not been in the class room for years, so not only are they taking care of their families and working part-time but also trying to get used to school, again. This can be a hard process for some, as they struggle with priorities and how to manage their time.

For many of these adult students they are not as familiar with the technology programs we are currently using, like traditional students may be. It can be rather intimidating for some of them. So as an instructor, I have to introduce it slowly and make sure to provide them with several opportunities to practice using the program. I have found that this eases their stress and increases their willingness try new things.

Another area I have seen adult students struggle with is the way many of us are teaching our classes. We are not standing in front of the room lecturing for the whole class period, which is what many of these adult students expect. Instead we expect them to do some learning on their own before class and then we apply it in class. This especially happens in our programs that have labs, but also applies to our theory classes as well. I once had a student tell me that she was disappointed because she expected me to tell her exactly what she needed to know each class period (basically lecture). She felt I wasn’t doing my job. This got me to thinking and I decided I needed to explain more about why I design my classes as I do. By spending a little time doing that, I have found that these adult students see the value this design of learning.

It is sometimes easy to forget that not all of our students are walking into our post-secondary classrooms with the same educational experiences. As a post-secondary educator, it is important to remember that, and take the time to make the connections for those students.