Non-Traditional Students and/or Adult Learners and How to Support Their Needs

Here is something I wrote for one of my classes this semester (Fall 2019) that I wanted to share. It relates to non-traditional students and how to accommodate and support their needs as they may be different than the “traditional” student.

There are a few characteristics that the National Center for Education Statistics uses for defining what a “nontraditional” student is. Some of these include: age, race, and gender. Most studies will use “age” as the primary variable because it captures a large, heterogeneous population of adult students who have family and work responsibilities as well as other life circumstances that may interfere with their educational objectives. Many are self-directed in learning, bring a vast reservoir of experience from the real-world, exhibit a readiness to learn, are internally motivated, and exhibit readiness for a task- or problem-centered concept rather than subject-centered.

Here are some tips I found from reading a few articles on adult learning (cited below) that I hope to utilize when framing and designing future course materials.

-Provide opportunities and services to engage with outside of work hours.

Ex: Office hours later in the evening for those working; Designated spaces for studying

-Frame and integrate material off previous knowledge and life experiences.

-Accommodate different learning styles (kinesthetic, auditory, visual, etc.)

-Engage with adult learners personally by drawing on their experiences in discussions and providing personalized feedback.

-Create opportunities for collaboration and interaction through in-class group activities, or flexible opportunities to work with classmates outside of the class.

https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/teaching-adult-undergraduate-students/ (Links to an external site.) (Teaching Adult Undergraduate Students)

https://nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/97578e.asp (Links to an external site.) (Nontraditional Undergraduates / Definitions and Data)

https://www.higheredjobs.com/HigherEdCareers/interviews.cfm?ID=266 (Links to an external site.) (Is the Adult Student the New ‘Traditional’ Student?)

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