Teaching at the adult level requires you to be aware of how adults learn. I have been certified for almost a decade by the American Heart Association and for the past five years by the American Safety and Health Institute to teach courses in First Aid, CPR, and AED. In my courses, I like to maintain a general, tried and true format, enabling my students to feel comfortable and engaged throughout the learning process:
Outline learning objectives
Before they begin learning, adults like to know “what” they will learn. Highlight, via bullet points, the key content that you will be teaching them throughout the day’s course. Doing this at the beginning of the course may also help relieve any anxiety your participants might have.
If your course guidelines permit, incorporate technology into your teaching. This makes the learning experience engaging and interesting.
Get to know the participants by name
When folks “sign in” for the course, get to know them by name and act in a personable way. This is also good customer service. Additionally, folks appreciate it when you are able to facilitate a discussion or lecture by referring to them by name. Establishing an effective customer service approach increases the effectiveness of the class.
Furthermore, using folks names to provide feedback throughout the learning process is important. This also helps increase the comfort level among participants, and makes them more apt to participate.
Use a “Hear See Do” approach
Adults benefit from hearing what they will be doing, watching you do it, and then trying it. This also will help you accommodate for a wide range of learning styles likely to be present among your students.
Allow ample hands-on, minds-on practice time
If your course guidelines permit, allow an abundance of hands-on, critical thinking practice time. This is the most important part of the course. It allows participants to experience “doing” the skills, while simultaneously receiving your feedback, giving them time to practice and implement the suggestions you give them for improvement.
Refer the participants to the text
Don’t forget about the textbook! Although not often used during teaching, the textbook and some of the resources provided with the course, make great reference material. Thus, frequently reference these materials throughout the course, and encourage your participants to utilize these resources to review after the course.
With the above tips, you are well on your way to teaching an effective adult learning course!