Lesson 3 - Characteristics of Adult Learners Illinois State Library

Effective Correction and Learner Goals

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How to Correct Effectively

Correction should be phrased positively. Always point out a positive aspect of the learning task or activity. Encourage the learners to see the learning activity as a team effort, as a task that the tutor and the learner are doing together. Remember to be careful with your choice of words when correcting. For example, using "we" statements, instead of "you" when addressing the learner will avoid placing blame on the learner. While discussing corrections, ask open-ended questions to encourage critical thinking skills. For instance, "Can you think of another way to say this?" Open-ended questions give the learner the opportunity to have input on corrective measures that build upon what he or she already knows about the problem at hand. Through open communication and discussion of possible correct options, this conversation can be a positive learning experience for the learners.

Correction should be consistent. One way to teach is to rethink and use different examples to explain the materials, making the materials concrete, appropriate, relevant and understandable. Effective correction will give learners the information they need to change the way they approach the materials, to correct any mistakes they are making and to continue to be motivated to learn more. Feedback that is positive, frequent and directly related to the learning task will make this possible. When tutors consistently give positive feedback on every accomplishment, learners are encouraged to do well. If the tutor is respectful rather than authoritative, the learning process will be positive and effective.

Understanding Learner Goals and Outcomes

Using the learner's own goals to guide the learning experience will help tutors and learners stay focused. By taking the opportunity to set goals with the learner and then to review those goals periodically, tutors will learn more about the learner's strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will inform the tutor as he or she designs specific strategies and interventions to strengthen the learner's skills. The learner will find strategies relevant that address their own goals. Eventually, these strategic methods will lead to positive outcomes for learners. Established goals should have measurable outcomes. These outcomes will illustrate the progress the learner has made towards their goal. For example: improved reading or math can be indicated by comparing the scores of a pre-test with the scores on a post-test. Other goals such as passing a driver's test can be easily documented. Achievements are a strong motivator.

Goal Setting

Adult learners come to the adult literacy tutoring situation for a reason. That reason, once identified, may become their goal. Conscious goal setting may be a process unfamiliar to many adult learners. Yet, adults who choose to participate in volunteer literacy programs as adult learners, have already set a goal of improving their literacy. In the literacy program, they will have the assistance of the tutors to help them achieve their goals.

Adult learners, like most of us, crave immediate results. Therefore, it is most effective to emphasize short-term goals. A short-term goal should be selected that is reasonable and attainable within the amount of time a typical learner spends with their tutor in a year. When an adult learner achieves a short-term goal, they receive the reward of success.

Successful learners will be more likely to continue with tutoring to reach long-term goals. Long-term goals will take longer to accomplish, but can be beneficial for learners to focus on as they work.

By setting meaningful, reasonable, and attainable goals, an achievement oriented environment is set for both learners and tutors. The milestones that learners achieve will be recognized and their efforts will be positively reinforced. The successful attainment of goals will help build a foundation of setting and achieving realistic goals for learners in the future.

Goal Attainment/Achievement

"I can do it. I will do it." This is what an adult learner needs to know when they begin the learning program. They need to make their own success personal. Identifying their goals is one of the first steps towards this achievement. During the intake procedure, tutors need to help the learner understand that the assessment process will assist them in setting appropriate goals, as well as in reaching their goals. After assessment has been completed, the tutor and the student will work together to refine the goals to be achievable and appropriate.

Once the goals have been defined as precisely as possible, the adult learner can be encouraged to visualize the goal being attained. The learner may need inspiration and encouragement to focus on the attainment of the goals. That's where the "I can do it. I will do it." attitude comes in. Tutors can plan positive strategies that will strengthen the chances of success. Adult learners need to believe that they are worthy of their goals and will achieve the success they want.

Goal Setting - Reflective Activity

View the Motivation and Goal Setting Worksheet prepared by Mansfield University (Mansfield, PA).

This worksheet was developed for college students; however, use it here to explore goal setting as an activity that informs the tutoring situation. For the purposes of this activity, fill the form out for yourself. As you do that, think about the literacy skills you need to set goals. Think about the time frames in which goal setting takes place, from "lifetime goal" questions to the "things you will do this week."

In a few paragraphs, reflect on these questions: How can goal setting help in the tutoring situation? How can you use goal setting as a motivation tool with your adult learner?

Compose an email to your trainer. Put the title, Goal Setting - Reflective Activity in the subject line. Copy and paste the questions into the body of the email. Then type in the answers to the questions below and send it to your trainer. Completing this assignment is a requirement of your training. Your trainer will respond to you through email.