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Hover to see how factors connect to Adverse Experiences. Then click connected factors to explore strategies related to multiple factors.
The trauma that comes from experiencing adversity releases stress hormones that can lead to changes in the body and brain. These changes can have negative consequences on academic achievement, cognitive skills, and other outcomes which can endure into adulthood.
Adverse experiences include:
Exposure to trauma can begin in childhood. According to the 2012 U.S. National Survey of Children's Health, nearly half of children (46%) had at least one adverse experience, with 11% experiencing three or more. Trauma exposure is more common in adolescence than childhood. The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder reports that approximately 6 in 10 men and 5 in 10 women have experienced at least one trauma in their lives, with men more likely to experience or witness physical assault or combat and women more likely to experience sexual assault. People of color may experience traumatic stress from racism over their lifespan. Adults may also experience trauma from being involved in the criminal justice system.
Trauma can impact adults' readiness to learn, for instance, brain injuries that produce cognitive impairments or emotional disturbances. Negative schooling experiences in childhood, including being bullied or ridiculed by other students or teachers, can cause adults to internalize negative messages about their intelligence. Additionally, Black, Indigenous, and other learners of color may have experienced racial trauma in the form of implicit or explicit biases or discrimination, such as school disciplinary policies.
While Adverse Experiences can have far-reaching impacts, there are evidence-based interventions available to support recovery.
Using language that is accessible and appropriately leveled for each student allows all learners to feel successful and participate in learning.
When annotating, learners engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading, which supports Foundational Reading Skills.
Experts can answer questions and provide vocabulary, processes, feedback, and scaffolds to help learners deepen their understanding.
When adults can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, learning becomes more personally meaningful and relevant.
Developing empathy in educators and in learners is an iterative process that requires taking the time to understand and honor others' perspectives.
Case studies support authentic, active learning experiences centered around real world situations that present an account of a particular set of circumstances for learners to engage with.
Beginning meetings with check-ins and maximizing opportunities for informal check-ins, whether live or online, can foster a sense of Belonging while building Social Supports.
When designing instruction for adults, expectations and goals should be clearly outlined to help learners focus on the material and make plans for success.
Adult learners can self-organize into groups called communities of practice to engage in longer-term examination of a topic to build deeper understanding.
Competency-based learning is self-paced, focused on mastery, and centered around demonstrating learning outcomes and skills rather than where or how they were attained.
When learners process and express information visually, they are activating more cognitive processes while Problem Solving.
Understanding adults' lived experiences and cultural backgrounds and connecting them to instructional practices helps all learners feel like valued members of the community.
Developing cultural awareness as an educator is an ongoing process that includes building empathy for diverse learners, intentionally recognizing how one's own identity intersects with learners' identities, and creating an awareness of how the environment can impact learners' Sense of Belonging.
Discussions about race can range from celebrating the importance of diversity to understanding the impact of racism from the perspective of those who have been historically marginalized.
Analyzing errors is especially beneficial in helping learners develop a Learner Mindset and critical thinking skills, which are a component of Problem Solving.
Networking and supporting adult learners in expanding their social networks provide access to additional resources and Social Supports, which can impact their trajectory and Motivation.
Experiential learning is learning by doing, which may include self-directed learning activities.
Giving learners the opportunity to explain their thinking process aloud helps them to solidify their comprehension, and move knowledge into their Long-term Memory.
In an increasingly digital world, adults who struggle with using technology can benefit from direct instruction for an array of digital tools.
Teaching learners how to effectively search the internet is critical for helping them learn how to find accurate and relevant information and aids in developing information literacy.
Direct instruction in math strategies may support some adult learners once conceptual understanding is in place.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, learners use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.