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With increased life experiences, social interactions, and participation in education, adult learners bring a plethora of Background Knowledge to learning. As adults have new experiences and are presented with new information through various media, their prior knowledge can be used to make connections, generate Inferences, and expand their understanding.
Though academic knowledge may be dependent upon individual educational experience, adults' Background Knowledge also encompasses everyday cultural experiences and interactions within their personal communities. When adults learn, Background Knowledge is essential to processing new knowledge into their existing schemas. As many cognitive functions may decline with age, older adults often compensate for these declines using relevant Background Knowledge.
Learning can be difficult for adults when programs do not take Background Knowledge into consideration. Programs must balance teaching new information which maintains Motivation with connecting information to learners' Background Knowledge to reduce frustration. To support authenticity in their learning, addressing real-world scenarios with adult learners can draw upon their prior knowledge and help show how new information can be used in their lives.
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.
Audiobooks allow learners to hear fluent reading and experience books in a flexible format.
When adults can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, learning becomes more personally meaningful and relevant.
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.
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.
When preparing for and executing a debate, learners analyze, form, and express verbal arguments, fostering their critical thinking skills, an essential component of Problem Solving.
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.
Adult learners who are struggling with Foundational Reading Skills, including decoding and phonemic awareness, can benefit from explicitly learning phonics skills in an educational setting.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and across contexts is critical for vocabulary acquisition.
Formative assessment is "assessment for learning" rather than "assessment of learning".
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps learners construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
Opportunities for students to practice skills in context, with instructor support and also independently, helps to move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.
Visual reading aids, such as handouts and online guides, help learners to maintain Attention and serve to support the learning process.
Immediate feedback can improve a learner's confidence, self-awareness and enthusiasm for learning, which leads to increased Motivation.
Inquiry-based learning is centered around open-ended questions posed by instructors and/or the learners themselves and fosters a Learner Mindset.
Giving learners the opportunity to share their knowledge, skills, and understanding with others strengthens learning and increases Motivation while also building Social Supports.
Metaphors and analogies can support learners by helping to form connections and to notice patterns and similarities that promote learning, self-concept, and higher order thinking.
Creating patterns through mnemonic devices, such as acronyms, categorizing items, visual images, or rhyming, supports the development of memories, including learned content knowledge.
Instruction and training presented in multiple formats allows learners to activate different cognitive skills and Background Knowledge that are necessary to remember procedural and content information.
The opportunity to observe peers or experts in action or participate in shadowing can provide a unique and authentic learning experience that often involves questioning, metacognitive thinking, and Problem Solving while providing Social Supports.
Learning in social contexts has been shown to have significant effects on comprehension of material and retention of new information into Long-term Memory.
Perspective seeking is different from perspective taking as it involves communication with the purpose of gaining insight into the nuances of alternate views.
When instructors ask questions or have learners create questions before introducing a text, they activate interest, increase Motivation, and help them assess what they already know about a given topic.
When instructors are able to provide context, and connect math concepts to an adult learner's world, math can be seen as relevant and applicable to their daily lives and work- a core aspect of adult Numeracy.
When adults monitor their comprehension, performance, and use of strategies when learning they become more invested in their work, build their Metacognition, and actively participate in the process.
Simulations and immersive virtual environments provide authentic learning at a level that can spark curiosity and deeper understanding by engaging multiple senses in exploration.
Learning and studying information across multiple sessions that are spaced, or distributed in time, can promote learning and long-term retention of both basic and conceptually complex facts and concepts.
Analyzing short video clips, replays of important aspects, and videos of oneself applying what has been learned can improve Metacognition and Long-term Memory while fostering a Learner Mindset.
Analyzing and discussing solutions to problems helps students develop a deeper understanding of Problem Solving processes and Numeracy skills.
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