Case Study The Learning Environment Education Essay

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Show you know how to create a learning experience for learners which will enable them to respond well to you, to the others in the group and to the learning material itself.

Location and access to venue.

I would make sure all students know how to get to the venue, provide a map and clear directions.

It may be difficult to get to the course by public transport; not everybody has a car! If there is public transport available, it may not be possible to get to the course for the published start time, or to stay until the end. This is especially significant in a rural county such as Herefordshire. If a student is repeatedly late or has to leave early then I would consider asking the group if the session timing should be altered slightly (with agreement of more flexible students) to accommodate the challenge.

Consideration for carers

Does the timing of the course allow those with caring commitments to attend? Are there childcare options available at the college? I would make the students aware of any childcare options and be sensitive to the fact that carers do not necessarily have dependent children. An adult learner might have a dependent partner, sibling or parent as their responsibility.

Layout of the room

Have I laid out the room so it is accessible to all students? Does it allow students with disabilities to feel comfortable? Is there room for everyone to see the board and me?

I would ensure that the room meets basic needs (Maslow's hierarchy) that it was ventilated and at a comfortable temperature. A too hot or stuffy room will cause learners to be sluggish and to yawn and be tired; a chilly room will be too uncomfortable to learn in.

I would ensure that the room was well lit, but not over bright and that there were extra lights and blinds, to adjust the light levels so students could comfortably see the flip chart or the PowerPoint presentation.

I would need a room, which had access to facilities for refreshment breaks and toilet breaks. I would give the student clear guidance on the length of comfort breaks and when they needed to be back in the room.

Introductions and greetings

I would introduce myself in an open, warm and friendly manner. I would appear clean, tidily dressed and professional. I would make it clear that I was happy for my first name to be used. I would give the learners clear directions on how to contact me. I would have some icebreaking exercises to get the students to know each other. We would all make name plates or have name badges.

I would probably have a group discussion about classroom rules, to engage the group as a whole. A class behaviour contract, agreed by the students, is a good icebreaker (no mobiles on, be respectful, punctual, inform if late/ill, hand stuff in on time, listen to others politely etc) and would probably provide all the basic behavioural rules I expected, anyway.

At some point on the first session I would probably break up the seating arrangements into small groups, each group to chat for 5 min and then say 3 things about their neighbour to the rest of the class.

Show you understand a number of barriers (at least 5) to learning by listing them and, for each one, show how the teacher's actions may make a difference to the effectiveness of the learning

Barriers or challenges to learning

A good mnemonic for barriers or challenges to learning is DELTA, which stands for Disabilities, Emotional, Language, Technology and Ability. (Taken from "Practical Teaching" L. Wilson, p48.) Listed here are some examples of barriers with some suggested ways in which a teacher can help.

Disabilities

Illness, visual issues, hearing issues, mobility, chronic pain

There is no excuse for not providing a rewarding learning experience to those who have a disability. There are aids to help with study, a tutor should investigate and provide all possible help to the best of his or her ability, as far as is practically possible, without compromising the other students or the course content.

Emotional

Students may have brought a lot of past poor experiences with them from school or other education.

Teachers should be inclusive, positive and welcoming.

Students may not want to be doing the course but it is a condition of benefit entitlement OR their employer is insisting they do the training.

Teachers can point out advantages to learning, offer positive support and praise progress. Teachers can place emphasis on the experience the student has gained during life and how valuable this is to the learning process.

Language

ESOL, terminology, difficulty understanding accents, cultural issues.

Teachers can provide written notes; arrange a translation service, or could source an interpreter. There is a need to be respectful of cultural issues as is possible whilst still attending to the needs of the other students and to the delivery of the overall requirements of the course.

Technology

Not everybody either has computer skills or has access to a computer! A VLE may be really off-putting to some students and they need to know there is help and advice available.

Teachers need to make sure students know there are college facilities, which are available. Basic IT skill courses are available and a teacher should identify those who need help.

Equipment failures (Transport, heating, lighting)

Teachers must make sure students are comfortable (heat, light, ventilation) and ensure that there are contact procedures in the event of a transport crisis (for student AND lecturer!)

Ability

There may well be a very wide ability range within a group of adult learners.

It is good practice to provide extended or additional work for those who are less able or less quick to learn.

They may have very different learning styles.

A teacher should vary the teaching of the course to encompass visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles e.g. talk as you write, show video clips and have handouts, have exercises where a member of a group speaks on behalf of the group and incorporate workshops/discussion exercises.

Cite examples both from your own experience and from a wider perspective

I can still, to this day, recall with vivid clarity the French lesson during my first day at Grammar School, 38 years ago. I had never done any French and the teacher knew it, but he picked me to read a sentence from the textbook anyway. When I had stumbled through it, getting it all wrong, he sneered and mocked, then picked a girl who he knew had done 2 years French at Junior school…and got her to read the same sentence. She did it perfectly and was praised.

I never forgot the humiliation, I never forgave him and I hated French with a passion from then on. I STILL feel very uncomfortable attempting to speak a foreign language.

Suppose I were an adult learner who had undergone that kind of treatment in most of my school career? Or had been bullied at school? Or had suffered at school or at work because I was; less able, had family issues preventing me from learning to the best of my ability or physical or emotional or mental health needs which were not being met? How would I feel about attempting to return to education as an adult? I suspect I would cringe at the very thought, let alone want to actually try to learn again.

As a teacher it is up to us to identify these barriers to learning (if possible) and either do what we can to help students or find other members of the wider professional team who can help more effectively.

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