Advance Organizers are not without potential problems

Advance Organizers are not without potential problems

Although it is the method used in countless university and college lectures every day (together with the ubiquitous PowerPoint), it can become unstimulating. Plain boring. This can definitely happen if we do not know what our learners already know. No actual assessment tests or discussions…only assumptions. What is often known as “perceived needs.”

I once had a graduate student who was in charge of the noon and evening adult continuing education classes held at a major museum. Her department annually hired a Music professor who was highly qualified and well known in his field. But, as she soon learned, most of his adult students would quit before his “Music Appreciation” course was even half over. Why? He was highly qualified. Highly respected in the academic world. But, as my graduate student soon realized, most of his students already knew everything he was teaching. Some of them knew even more. They were bored. He entered the room every semester assuming these adult learners knew little or nothing about music and music theory. Maybe he was used to undergraduate classes, I will never know. But it was obvious we need to be careful that we begin with the learner—not with the curriculum and not with our assumptions.

This “tool” might not always fit your own teaching style or your learner’s learning style. Both of you may be used to a more formal approach where the curriculum and the teacher make the decisions. The point, however, is to know your learner and be adaptable.

Read More

Ausubel, D.P., Novak, J.D., & Hanesian, H. (1968). Educational psychology: A cognitive view (Vol. 6). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Cattell, R.B. (1963). Theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence: A critical experiment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 54(1), 1-22.

Fingeret, H., & Jurmo, P. (Eds.). (1989). Participatory literacy education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 42. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Quigley, A. (2006). Building professional pride in literacy: A dialogical guide to professional development. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing.

Wlodkowski, R. (1999). Enhancing adult motivation to learn: A comprehensive guide for teaching all adults (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.