Do you anticipate students to read the Course Syllabus and relevant documents before beginning class and then cooperate as required without hesitation? Or is it feasible that students will walk into your class on the first day and discover you’ve created a somewhat different learning environment? Perhaps you have different expectations than the prior teachers, or you’ve prepared the syllabus differently, or your teaching style is more direct (or hands-on) than theirs. In other words, even when school policies and practises remain the same, pupils rarely go from one class to the next without having to adapt in some way. Even when the material has previously been prepared for them, no two teachers are alike or teach in the same way. For students, there is usually an adjustment phase.
If students have attended numerous classes, they are likely to be familiar with the process of adjusting from one class to the next. However, a typical complaint among students is that grading is inconsistent. This can happen even in classes with a uniform rubric and set of instructions, because written assignments will always have a subjective element to them that the instructor must interpret. Students are frustrated because they know they will have to adapt, but they are unprepared for changes in a new class. You’ll notice that your students have evolved working routines that assist them manage their time, especially if they’re non-traditional, working adult students juggling numerous priorities. Your pupils will be less productive in your class if they are not prepared to adjust to your expectations and teaching technique.
Learning and Adaptability
The learning process is another facet of pupil adaptation. The majority of adult students have developed ideas, knowledge, and beliefs about the things they are studying. They will need to adjust their attitude in some way if they are to learn new concepts, methods of thinking, shift beliefs, or embrace new knowledge. This is the process of becoming more involved in learning, which an instructor can assist with. It’s also a process that students may find difficult, especially if they don’t see a cause to modify their minds or beliefs. This is particularly true when it comes to academic writing and critical thinking. Students are frequently challenged by their instructors to change in some way, whether in their attitudes or habits, and this can be difficult if students are unprepared.
Consider how much more difficult this approach could be for online professors. Students and the instructor meet on a set date and time in a typical classroom, which means the instructor is present to answer questions and concerns. In an online class, however, the instructor may not be present at all times when students are online and in the classroom. This gap between teachers and students produces an instinctive sense of detachment, and students are less likely to approach their lecturers directly. I’ve discovered that the younger generation, who are accustomed to conversing by text and social media, rarely phone me during Office Hours, regardless of how many days each week I provide such hours. This lack of instant engagement can be detrimental to a student who is frustrated as they try to modify their thinking during the learning process, necessitating the need for an online instructor to develop new techniques of educating their students.
Important Factors to Consider
There is a principle of adult learning to examine called andragogy. This indicates that adult students are self-directed, do not require instruction, and must understand why they are learning what they are learning. In other words, this is not compulsory education, such as primary school, and they wish to participate in class. While students may not always be able to identify their own needs in terms of personal development, you now know why they are in your classroom. It is a personal decision that is tied to a specific necessity. This makes it even more critical for you, as their instructor, to assist them comprehend why they need to learn what they’re studying, why they should consider changing their perspective, and why they need to change specific developmental behaviours or ideas.
Another factor to examine is how students will react if they begin to modify their ideas or ways of thinking, or if they begin to change particular behaviours, such as their academic writing abilities. You should think about their employment history and how long they’ve been accustomed to these beliefs and actions, as an overnight transformation is unlikely. It necessitates patiently cultivating change over time while maintaining a positive mindset. If you approach it with a demanding attitude, one of compliance and getting it done right now, you’re likely to get a very emotional response from your pupil. A helpful attitude will cause your student to be less defensive, and the consequence will most likely be a student who will try and try again. From one try to the next, your continual support is required.