Bright ideas for tech-savvy educators, right to your inbox

[Adult + HigherEd] 5 Steps to Targeted Instruction for Adult Learners

Monday, December 5, 2016 -- Sarah Cornelius

Targeted, or personalized, instruction is fantastic in theory – especially for adult learners with widely varying skill sets, academic needs, and goals. However, in the busy reality of the classroom, it can be a tall order to implement. A well-thought-out plan and the right resources are key to making it work. Here are five steps to get you started:

1. Identify the goals of your learners and determine the right sequence of curriculum

Most of the time, this step is as simple as making sure that the right learners are a part of the right programs or classes. However, it can be as involved as creating a new sequence of content aligned to learners’ goals if a standardized program or course has not been created. In this case, using modularized online curriculum (like that found in Edmentum’s Plato Courseware) can expedite the process of course customization.

2. Assess learners against the curriculum to identify any skill gaps

Adult learners come from a variety of educational backgrounds, and all learners have differing strengths and weaknesses. Administering a benchmark assessment before instruction begins allows educators to gain information about learners’ aptitudes and to identify any skill gaps they might have from the start. In some cases, a benchmark aligned to the program or course is not enough information. For certain learners, additional assessment is needed to identify where their knowledge is by grade level and learning objectives.

3. Target instruction to remediate and fill learner gaps

Once you know where your learners are, the most important step toward personalization is creating a learning path that targets the unique needs of the individual learner. In most cases, this path is formed from the sections of curriculum determined in step 1 that the learner still needs to master. In other cases, where learners need more foundational skills, it can be expanded to include remedial content.       

4. Monitor progress and formatively assess learners

Assessment is an important part of personalizing learning. Assessments need to be given not only at the beginning and the end of a course or program but also continuously throughout a program to get the formative data necessary to enable educators to actively intervene and deliver the right instruction at the right time.

5. Keep the cycle going

Wash, rinse, and repeat. This can be one of the world’s most frustrating set of instructions. However, when you are truly providing personalized learning, it is always important to be continuously identifying learners’ goals, assessing them against those goals, targeting instruction, and monitoring their progress.

When you’re first starting out with personalized learning in your adult education classroom, completing all of these steps can feel like an overwhelming task. In short order, though, the deeper learning and improved outcomes you see will make it well worth the effort. And, technology is available to help make much of the process easier and more efficient for you. Want to learn more? Find out how Edmentum’s Adult + Higher Education solutions can provide top-quality content, automatic prescriptions based on test results, and actionable, formative data!