In this assignment I am going to explain my approach to the research I have carried out and summarise my findings. To plan and enable learning, as a trainer I must ensure that my training is student centred and inclusive to all. There are many theories and suggestions to consider how this should be done in an adult learning environment.
In order to enhance my current knowledge I decided to use reference books, publications, journals and websites to research relevant topics. I also utilised my mentor as a sounding board for ideas and a point of discussion for areas I was unsure about. I reflected on my existing knowledge and my research for Unit One – Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. I wanted to access new models and theories and link these into the context of my own teaching practice. To do this I searched the internet for reviews of reference material for planning and enabling learning, which I then purchased. I found that my research could be extensive. I had to remain focused and choose topics to explore that I found interesting and relevant to my learning environment and style of delivery.
Adult learners need to take responsibility for their own learning. If learners are active in setting their own targets and understand what they need to achieve, motivation and self esteem will reassure their learning experience. Understanding methods of negotiation and inclusivity provides learners with the most appropriate experience, engages the whole group and builds a good rapport. This can be gleaned from the identification of needs as per Ecclestone (1996).
I focused my research on the impact of initial assessment on the learning journey. From my experience initial assessment results are not used effectively and the process of initial assessment is usually carried out purely to comply with procedure. My experiences are confirmed by The Chief Inspector’s Report (2003). The Adult Learning Inspectorate found that ‘many providers are using a screening test but not following this up…. the results of the assessment are not being used to inform the ILP’ (Wilson, L, 2008, p.139).
Initial assessment can have a huge impact on delivery of learning and can form the learner’s ideas, goals and highlight areas of support required. Scales (2008, p.178) states that initial assessment ‘should be handled sensitively to welcome learners in rather than scare with formal testing and assessment procedures’. I agree with this, however, the nature of the assessment will depend on the level and content of the course commenced. Some programmes require a robust assessment process to set parameters and determine suitability to join the course.
Wallace (2007, p.154) describes the three key components that come together at the beginning of a programme – the teacher, the learners and the syllabus or specifications of the course. This makes complete sense. To deliver an effective programme and meet the learning outcomes the key elements must come together and crystallise. This will then inform the delivery of the overall programme. This led me to further explore my research around inclusive learning.
I chose to continue down the route of motivation and the impact this has on learners. Petty (2009, p.55) noted that ‘Maslow showed that there is only one way of motivating your students. And that is to ensure that your students’ belongingness, esteem and self-actualisation needs are nourished through the learning activities you devise’. Using information from the initial assessment, such as learning needs or styles, resources need to be created and adapted to ensure learning is effective and relevant.
Functional skills should be tested and developed when appropriate. In my research I focused on the practicalities of embedding these skills and reports published relating to post 16 education. In the training I deliver I can embed a variety of functional skills to allow individuals to maintain these skills and develop them further. Wilson (2008) suggested that incorporating ICT into teaching doesn’t always suit the teacher and/or learner. This can be the case with the types of sessions I deliver. Functional skills should naturally develop from a session; they can’t be forced into a session if they are inappropriate.
Communication is the thread throughout a learning experience that encourages learning and development between the trainer and the learner. It is my responsibility to recognise potential barriers and utilise strategies to overcome these. This is the route I took with my research. I came across theories such as the Communication Climate (Adler et al, 1998) and Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1995). Again, I found a real link to negotiating with and including learners. Goleman (1995) believed that ‘if emotions and feelings are not recognised and managed by teachers and learners, then effective learning cannot occur’.
My research has broadened my knowledge and understanding to take forward into the classroom. The brief I have provided only really scratches the surface from the extensive reading I carried out; however I will have the opportunity to explore these further within this unit.