How to plan a successful literacy program for adult learners

After you’ve attracted adult learners to your literacy program, you have a new challenge: keeping them engaged until successful completion. To do so, your program needs to be set up in a way that helps learners acquire, retain and transfer new knowledge.

Use the tips below to help you plan a successful literacy program for your adult learners.

Present material clearly

To keep your learners’ attention focused, the learning material needs to be presented in a well-organized, clear manner. Anything that competes for a learner’s attention – such as background noise during an explanation or blurry text in a visual display – can compromise learning. Remove any irrelevant information to ensure your learners are focused on essential details.

When presenting new material, avoid overloading your learners. For example, instead of introducing a lengthy list of new vocabulary into a single class, introduce new words evenly over several classes. Present them in varied contexts that appeal to all types of learners (visual, auditory and kinesthetic), and review them again at a later date. Doing so can lead to an increase in the amount of information that a student retains.

Combine concepts with worldly examples

Adults that find tasks intrinsically interesting or important to his or her identity are more likely to apply effort and stay engaged. To assist adult learners in persistence, ground concepts in concrete experiences. For example, incorporate an everyday experience such as the ability to create a new recipe to show the importance of literacy skills.

To support a student’s personal interests and enhance their learning capacity, ask for confidential course feedback from each participant. On a sheet of paper at the start of the course, ask them to outline topics that they find interesting and boring. Use the gathered responses to provide a choice of books, tasks and assignments that will appeal to each learner.

Provide appropriate evaluations and feedback

Ensure learners don’t forget new information by conducting evaluations on regular occasions. Incorporating regular evaluations that are spaced out throughout the course provides two advantages: one, students are constantly engaged, and two, learning practitioners receive feedback on what still needs to be taught.

When a student is expected to remember new information because of an evaluation, their learning performance can increase. Direct effects of assessment include being able to recollect the information again in the future if needed. Indirect benefits include the encouragement of a more regular study habit.

Provide appropriate, timely feedback to learners by presenting results privately and being specific about the area(s) needing improvement. If a learner does not receive an acceptable score, allow them the opportunity to take the assessment again.

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