It is natural for every student to encounter challenges in context to education. Skyrocketing fees, scarcity of ideas for course works, finding value in the lectures and not even mentioning the emotional and psychological pressures that every student are facing. In most cases, these challenges make the whole academic ride worth it.
The same is not lost for adult learners who are having their second, third or fourth shot of formal education. In some way, the aforementioned challenges are even doubled, tripled or even magnified to a number of times in intensity. Developments in the education sector are giving these learners further push towards taking up adult education.
Online programs, MOOCS, and even the local community programs are providing an interesting spin set for these more mature learners to take. And while this proffer promises of betterment ricocheting from personal life to careers, the continuing education is not without its own set of challenges.
To give you an idea of what adult learners may feel inside the education institution, some of the challenges have been outline on this article. There maybe other factors that does not affect all the adult learners.
Embarrassment, humiliation, infamy, or shame – there’s obviously a wealth of terms to refer to the adult learners’ inner feelings. Of course, this is not likely applicable to learners who have finished their tertiary degrees and are only returning for a master’s or any such like. Rather, shame is oft-felt and experienced by those who are returning after failing to meet some requirements or exams (A-levels or GCSEs).
Some adult learners also suffer from illiteracy. As a consequence, such learners go to the trouble of hiding it. According to Maria Burke, director of Literacy Volunteers of Essex/Franklin Counties, “Common avoidance techniques include finding an excuse to steer clear of reading aloud, hiding their writing from others or committing everything to memory to avoid jotting things down.” It is not easy to share any shortcomings to other students which may become the source of bullying.
When people think of generational gaps, one cannot help but take note of the differing technologies in between. A favourite victim of this variance is adult learners. Some would not know how to use the Internet, and some hardly know how to operate the computer. Easy as it seems, learning new technologies is not really easy for some students since some of them are afraid to learn new stuff. Technophobia may look like nonsense stuff but there are really people who just dislike new technologies.
Grappling with the basics can hinder chances of optimising the ease of communicating via the computer or Internet, as is with learning. Good thing, most learning facilities start with diagnostic tests in order to indicate what level the learner is currently taking and how best to proceed.
Apart from the computer and Internet, adult learners also experience difficulty in using some mobile gadgets. It seems to be a prerequisite to be able to learn to handle new stuff since they are required in one way or another. Interestingly, increased engaged exposure to such gadgets can spell a remarkable difference in the way adult learners catch up in the whole technological wave.
Grasping new concepts
Some concepts encountered at class require the discarding of commonly held views. This can be difficult for adult learners simply because these views may have been long with them and might – through their experience – be more valid (ie, makes more sense) than the introduced concept.
This is a tricky case. Adult tutors are nevertheless, trained to face such hurdles and are armed with convincing stories, anecdotes or facts. Adult learners, on the other hand, have to exhibit open-mindedness.
One of the issues related to grasping new concepts is attention and retention. It is a good thing that as one grows older, he will be able to retain more information and has much longer attention time compared to younger ones. However, it is said that because of modern technologies, the attention time of human being has been decreased. Perhaps due to information overload.
Without this open view, it would be difficult for adult learners to chew upon the introduced lesson and could even cause delay.
Another stuff that could instantly trouble adult learner is juggling education with a whole variety of chores. In “Beyond Skepticism,” Molly Corbett Broad mentioned the following figure: “About two-thirds of American college students now are post-traditional learners whose pursuit of additional knowledge and skill is interlaced with time commitments to jobs and family responsibilities.”
Even those adult who have a clear track record of a smooth schedule cannot help but admit that adult education can add a kick of punch in their neatly organised calendars. And it is always a fact, that getting more education will certainly add more edge over those who have not. Due to the busy schedules, most adult learners will resort to buying dissertations despite the competence and availability of learning resources.
Access to resources
Relevant resources used in education consist of the printed and the paperless. Those printed resources are oft-found in the library, yet the number of users (including younger students) could render these resources inaccessible to the adult learning population.
Interestingly, lots of free materials evade the Internet, computers and mobile devices. However, unless adult learners conquer their technological difficulties, these free resources will remain untapped, as well. They can still get better information from printed library resources however they have to read large number of references and have to browse through the indices to be able to arrive at best resources that they may find relevant. Learning to use the internet will certainly cut the work required to get projects or researches to be done successfully.
The adult learning facilitators will have a tough role to play in the sea of challenges their adult learners will face. Perhaps, with a little more faith, the learner’s confidence shouldn’t be eroded. It has also to keep in mind that every student has his/her own work and problems to attend aside from schooling. Thus, being more considerate and patience to the learners’ need is really important. Support from the adult learners’ family could also boost their chances into conquering these challenges and making it.