5 Unconventional Truths About Student Attendance in Adult Education

5 Unconventional Truths About Student Attendance in Adult Education


You want to move your student attendance numbers from good to great. Right? Why wouldn’t you? That’s what great instructors do. But it requires the right strategies.  Since you are here, let the CBL Team help you.

With that in mind, below are 5 ideas that might revolutionize the way you see and understand the student attendance issue. Ready for an eye-opening moment?

Let’s dive in.

Five truths about students attendance

Point # 1– Student attendance rules and policies barely work because learners do not want to be forced to learn. Rather, they are looking for a better learning experience — that focuses on their needs and wants. As Seth Godin puts it, ”There’s no such thing as mandatory education. It’s almost impossible to teach people against their will.”

Point # 2– In adult education most students struggle to learn from strangers. Why? Learning involves taking risks and making lot of mistakes. That’s why adult learners are always trying to figure out who the teacher is or if she is worthy of their trust. For example, knowing the teacher makes it easier for learners to dance with their fear and apprehension in the learning process.

Therefore, making it easy for learners to know who you are and where you stand will make their coming to class less stressful — and as a result boost your student attendance number.

Conversely, the secret to building better rapport with learners is to be open, relatable, empathetic — and human. How?  A simple strategy that works well is to listen attentively to learners’ stories, understand their perspective,  and share your own stories and challenges. In other words, you should get off of your high horse or pedestal.

For example, keep wondering, ask students lots of questions, always be willing to individualized and personalized your teaching approaches. If you don’t, your students will find another teacher that will.

There is more …

Point # 3- What are you or your adult-ed program known for? What do students say about you and your program? See, what you think about yourself and your program is not as significant as what learners say about you. Really?  I can’t make that up…

Making a clear promise to teach skills that matter and lead students closer to where they are going sends a clear message. It tells learners what to expect from your class or who they will become as a result of attending your program. For instance, when you hear “Harvard”, “Stanford”, and “Yale”, I bet you don’t think about easy and lousy courses and promises.

By the way, promising a diploma is a lousy promise. It doesn’t make headlines. Why? This is what all average adult-ed programs promise. What else can you offer?


Point # 4 – Seducing learners with a promise of convenience or easy education so they can feel good about themselves is like selling them a bill of goods. Why? Developing skills that matter requires hard work. We, adult-ed professionals, should make this clear for the learners we seek to change. In fact, lying to learners is a sure way to destroy your student attendance and trust.

Like I said before, true learning requires dedication and brain power. So, telling learners the truth instead of offering them a watered-down version of education is the best way to invite them to commit to studying for real change.

Point # 5– To change our learners, we have no choice but to acknowledge their individual stories and needs. That doesn’t mean lowering the bar. Instead, we need to focus on their individual stories and needs with intent. To be more specific, we need to avoid teaching average classes or lessons for average learners.

What I am saying is, we should offer our learners the satisfaction of developing skills that matter in a faster and better way, as well as the anticipation of transferring the skills to the real world— to change their lives for the better.

Please do me a favor. Share these insights with adult-ed teachers in your network. And go change your learners for the better!

PS: Here are two books CBL has produced to support teachers’ work. Check them out: 

The coach
Coach Teddy Edouard develops Continuous Improvement(CI) processes and systems to help individuals and companies increase productivity, reach peak performance, maximize their impact, and save time, resources and energy.

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