Several observations and conclusions can be made in reflection on this project. When teaching older learners, a slower speed in delivery is necessary. The instructor should make the delivery of content less tied to elements of time, and be aware that past learning experiences can and do inhibit learning ability. As well, older individuals need to have continual support and reinforcement after learning a new task, so that they will be more confident in their risk taking behaviours. Also, the instructor should use teaching techniques that focus on the needs and abilities of older learners. By using a wide variety of learning tools such as handouts, hands-on demonstration, instruction expressing relevance, instructional clues for information retrieval, and discussions, different learning styles can be accommodated providing a more rounded classroom environment for the older learner.
Challenges exist for the instructor and designer of a modular approach for older learners as increased preparation time is necessary. Instructor and participant interaction also needs to be constant so that there is continued learner involvement. As much as the instructors ability to reassess and adapt to participants needs is very demanding; it is an ongoing process. Being flexibile and adaptative then become the key characteristics of a good instructor.
About the Author
Olwyn Gehue is an instructor at Crossley Carpets in their workplace education program and has taught and developed curriculum in adult education at community colleges, and community-based learning programs for 16 years.
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