Northwest Territories Literacy Council

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What Makes a Successful Adult Education Program?

Factors Related to a Successful - Adult Education Program

Many factors make a successful adult education program. Find out below what those factors are and how you can adapt them for your community and learners.

Factor How the factor can be adapted to the local situation
Community-based learning
  • Be accountable to the community
  • Get the community involved in the program
  • Use local resources
  • Make concrete contributions to the community
  • Use the issues and problems of the community as a basis for study
  • Have a school without walls where learning activities occur in the context of the community
Learner-centred curriculum
  • Develop a curriculum that uses the experiences, backgrounds, values, strengths, and interests of the learners. This could involve language experience, projects, newspapers, learner-initiated exchanges
Aboriginal culture built into the curriculum
  • Use aboriginal culture (contemporary and traditional) and reality at the center of all subjects and activities
  • Include local cultural studies and a local language component
  • Discuss local issues (e.g. land claims)
Activity-oriented learning
  • Use experiential learning such as field trips, speakers, simulation games, structured experiences, and community projects
"Dialogical" relationship between learner and instructor
  • The instructor becomes more of a facilitator and co-learner
Aboriginal personnel and involvement
  • Invite local elders, band councilors, and administrators to speak
  • Arrange "apprentice" positions with the band staff and workers
  • Invite local hunters, carvers, and other artisans to speak and/or give demonstrations
Maximum learner input and choice
  • Have the class structure and operation negotiated between the instructor and the learners
  • Stress group interaction
  • Use a flexible, largely learner-determined timetable
  • Use learner -initiated, designed and conducted projects, field trips, activities, etc.
  • Have management problems dealt with by the group
  • Give learners a choice of materials and components
  • Have a learner advisory council
  • Have learners contribute their experiences
  • Have learners contribute various cultural materials and perspectives
Relevant Materials and Content
  • In all subject areas, select materials to be relevant to learners' experiences, background, and concerns.
  • Use activities designed to permit learners to become involved in learning that has meaning to them.
Recognition of Adult Roles
  • Understand learners' time demands
  • Recognize family responsibilities and complications
  • Use research on adult learners
  • Recognize and use learners' life experience
  • Hold family gatherings and do family literacy activities such as reading circles, rhyming programs and book clubs
De-emphasis on academic stratification and competition
  • Evaluate on the basis of non-verbal evidence of competence as well as verbal and written
  • Emphasize process over product through group projects and activities
  • Individualize expectations
  • Make continuous progress
Use research on effective teaching and learning styles
  • Show personal warmth
  • Show sensitivity to culturally-based communication and interaction patterns
  • Develop a classroom "culture" through dialogue and consensus
  • Show sensitivity to cultural differences that might intervene in the classroom

"Informal" instructional approach
  • The teacher becomes a facilitator and co-learner
  • Use peer-teaching methods
  • Accept your role as a counselor as well as an instructor
  • Make use of activities, games, projects, etc.