Creating a positive learning environment for adult learners requires application of concepts related to the characteristics of an adult learners. As such, it demands understanding of the differences between andragogy and pedagogy. In andragogy, teachers are facilitators of the learning environment. In pedagogy, teachers are the primary source of information and guidance of information source. Feedback in pedagogy is provided in a “reproved, corrected, and told what to do” format as opposed to andragogy where feedback is a process to “aid learners identify and self-adapt their corrections”. In andragogy, feedback is provided privately, in a safe and supportive manner which sets clear expectations, open dialogue, and actionable points.
In order to devise a positive learning environment, we need to set a learning experience that allows the adult learner to experience trust, open communication, and a shared learning environment. Failure to do so will cause the adult to withdraw and creates a hostile learning environment. How should educators create a positive learning environment? Well, there is no clear answer. Teachers need to accept the role of a facilitator and mentors rather than conveyers of information.
I plan to develop this area of learning by starting each session with a clear set of expectations. Each learner’s input must be respected and welcomed at all times. Feedback will be given in person when possible but always privately. Feedback will not focus on negative results, but will build on positive outcomes. Learners experiencing difficulty will be given tools to empower and help them gain confidence. As a facilitator, I also will ask for regular and timely feedback from my students. It is easy to assume one is meeting the needs of their group. Through feedback, I can modify my style and methodology to further address student needs. Finally, I think humor, when used appropriately, is a great way to establish and maintain a positive learning environment. At times, humor will lighten up a session and even alleviate stress. For me, this is an area that does not come naturally. So, I’ve tried to encourage humor around me and welcome it.