How To Become a Constructivist Adult Ed Instructor That Teaches Like a Pro

Being an adult ed instructor is hard and becoming a constructivist one is even harder. Really? I can’t make that up…

Let’s say you want to facilitate learning like a pro and make your classes engaging. You have a strong desire to create meaningful teaching experiences that maximize your students’ learning experience. In order words, your goal is to put your adult learners where they belong— at the center of your teaching.

So, you technically want to become a true constructivist adult ed instructor. Why wouldn't you? It’s like moving from good to great. Who does not want to get better?

Using the constructivist principles in your ESL, ABE, GED, ESL, HSE, or workforce classes is a smart decision. And being able to do so successfully will make you look quite distinguished.

But you’re probably wondering: Where do I start?

The thing is you can start at the beginning — by choosing one or two learner-centered teaching approaches that will bring the constructivist principles  to live in your context. Working on becoming proficient in the implementation of one single learner-centered approach will set you apart.

What exactly are these approaches, you may ask?  

Well, there are several teaching approaches that help promote the constructivist principles; but in this post I am going to share only four. But the choice is yours to make.

So, grab a pen and get ready to make your choice.   

1- Case-Based learning

This approach allows adult ed instructors to create opportunities for learners to use critical thinking and analytical skills to work in groups or in pairs on real world challenges. Mastering CBL implementation might take time; but working on this skill is worth every minute you spend on it.

I am not lying, being a proficient user of this approach will elevate you to the rank of top learning facilitators in the adult ed field. Wouldn’t you like that?

But wait a minute. Where do I find the cases? You can either learn to write your own cases  or find them in books or on the internet.  Let’s look  at the second approach.

2- Project-based learning

Like Case-Based Learning, project-based learning activities mimic the real world. It allows learners to spend a few classes or even a term solving meaningful and complex problems for a real audience.

Now you are wondering: What kind of projects should your learners work on? They should do work that is aligned with the core standards and learning objectives they are trying to reach.

For example, you should use PBL guidelines and frameworks that can get your learners to put their understanding and skills in evidence. That said, being able to showcase real products that your learners create will make them feel and look good. Isn’t it rewarding for them?

3- Problem based-learning

The Problem-Based Learning model allows adult ed teachers to foster classroom collaboration, allowing learners to show critical thinking skills and creativity.  

That is, learners work on open-ended problems that require the utilization of skills aligned with learning objectives set for the class. Applying the PBL principles will make you look distinguished.

But I already know what you are thinking: How the heck is problem-based learning different from project-based learning? Well, you are right. They are close cousins.  But… simply put, many consider problem-based learning as a subcategory of project-based learning.  

For example, problem-based learning can be implemented in a  short period of time vs project-based learning that calls for more resources and a more extended period of time.

4- Experiential Learning

This approach may tap into the approaches I described above to take learners through a learning cycle.  Adult ed instructors often use it to expose learners to experiences outside the classroom setting.

The phases of experiential learning includes:  Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization,  and Active Experimentation. In other words, this teaching approach is all about learning by doing and reflecting.

How should you tackle this, you may ask? Practicing using implementation guidelines and frameworks will you make you stand out — or make you look like rockstar. How cool is that?

To Wrap Up

The bottom line is, being proficient in all the 4 teaching approaches is ideal. But mastering one approach is all you need for now. Like I said before, facilitating learning like a pro is a win-win situation for your and your learners— they learn better and you look better(professionally). So, it’s about time you made your choice and got to work!

Thanks in advance for commenting and sharing this post with your fellow adult ed instructors.

The coach

Teddy Edouard is a Learning Consultant & an Instructional Coach with a passion for Teaching, Learning, and Cognitive Science. He is on a mission to help institutions, teachers, and training professionals maximize the effectiveness of their instructional and non-instructional interventions. Teddy translates adult learning theories and other research into ready-to-use classroom teaching tips and strategies for the benefits of adult learners and instructors.

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