Different Learners, Different Expectations

One of the challenges of dealing with a large group of students in the modern classroom is the diversity of the group. More than in times past, students come to the class with a wider range of experiences, languages, cultural backgrounds, and expectations. This greatly complicates the teacher’s job of preparing a class that meets the needs of the majority of learners (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012).

In a corporate setting, that diversity can be even more intense. The group can include ages ranging from no work experience to years of work experience. Some might have family or school obligations, and there may be English language learners.

A range of ages in the class can be both an interesting resource and a source of conflict. Younger students tend to see things in idealistic terms because they have little experience with other situations. Older students have experience in how situations realistically play out, and they can often support their opinions with evidence or logic (Planning, Assessing, and Improving Adult Learning, 2010).

When discussing issues that deal with making judgment calls, requiring a logical reason to support the decision might give the older students an opportunity to demonstrate for the younger students. Students with less experience may need some coaching through clarifying questions. The younger students, who often want an authority to provide the answer, may not appreciate that (Planning, Assessing, and Improving Adult Learning, 2010), but the skill is necessary.

In addition to age differences, workers invariably have other obligations. Some will have families, some might be attending graduate school, and some might be doing both. There may be a need to be flexible with scheduling to accommodate people in these situations.

To help with that, work to be done on the computer can be set up for remote access. This would allow the people to self-pace their work around their other obligations, within reasonable time deadlines.

English Language Learners

English language learners represent a diverse group in themselves when considering native languages, experience in English, and relative competency in various forms of communication. Idiomatic expressions are troublesome to someone new to the language because direct translation of the words is all but useless.

Presentation of information in multiple modes would be helpful. Using visuals and demonstrations in addition to lecture and discussion would reinforce information. Written notes might be useful for those who need more time to process information or translate.

Conclusion

A diverse array of students can be a real planning challenge for the instructor since a useful strategy for one student might be a waste of time for another (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). By using a variety of teaching and learning strategies, the instructor will be more likely to meet the needs of the students.

 

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Instructional challenges. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Planning, Assessing, and Improving Adult Learning [Lecture notes]. (2010). Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_4842585_1&content_id=_18108605_1#_18108684_1&courseTocLabel=Week%202%20Resources

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