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Adult Learner Independence  

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How does a teacher create the kind of environment that promotes a learner's independence?

Place a value on creating a strategic environment.
Use every opportunity to guide learners to be active and independent. Frequently ask questions such as

  • "So how would you do that?"
  • "How would you remember to do that?"
  • "How would you find that information?"
Recognize the factors that increase learner motivation. Learners need to
  • Understand the instructional process
  • Be involved in making decisions about what is to be learned
  • Experience the success that comes from correctly applying in real-life contexts the knowledge and skills that have been mastered.
Realize that instruction revolves around the everyday needs of the learner.
Your instruction should focus on teaching adults to be independent and on helping them to succeed in their various life roles.

Regard learners as equal partners in the learning process.
Adult learners are rich reservoirs of knowledge and past experiences; they come to literacy programs with valuable information about

  • how they have learned
  • how they have compensated for things they cannot do
  • and how they have succeeded.
Your information about effective instructional practices is a good complement to the learner's information. Instruction that is designed around the learner's strengths, needs, and interests holds the greatest potential for success.

Encourage learners to keep track of their progress.
Motivation increases when learners are taught to

  • keep track of their accomplishments
  • make decisions about what they want to learn next and when to learn new information
  • recognize when they need to review material or seek assistance
Keeping track of their progress on a graph or chart helps them to measure their progress visually.

Involve significant persons in the learner's life, whenever possible, in promoting learning.
In helping learners to master new skills and to recognize when and where to apply them, your job will be easier if you can enlist the support of others. The learner's family, friends, and coworkers can encourage her or him to apply new skills at home and at work.

Individualize instruction.
The more a learner is able to practice and use skills, the greater the possibility the skills will be applied to other situations. The learning environment must allow for learners to work on individual goals. Only through individualizing instruction as much as possible can you meet learners' specific needs.

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