How to Engage a Group of Diverse Adult Learners in a Way That Also Raises Rigor and Increases Learning
Typically, we teach the way we were taught unless we can learn new approaches to pedagogy. The literature on adult learning can guide meaningful, practical pedagogy that catalyzes the process of constructing meaning and the improvement of student learning. Moreover, when the quality of learning opportunities improves, underrepresented populations are more likely to benefit. Transformative change (Mezirow, 2000) in individual learning requires new approaches in thinking in how one can engender growth and learning with adults. This suggests that adults desire active versus passive learning that is also practical. Learners construct new knowledge that builds upon their prior understanding and experiences. Learning can be enhanced by what is termed “sociocentric,” rather than egocentric thinking, when learners share ideas, inquire, and solve problems together and address the constant human need for dialogue (Brookfield, 2003; Garmston, 1997). By implementing simple strategies that create conditions and opportunities for adults to construct meaning, it is quite possible for cognition and understanding to improve significantly.