The Unknown Adjunct

February 1, 2009

My Class — Or Not?

Filed under: Students,teaching — unknownadjunct @ 11:20 pm
Tags: ,

Interesting thread going in at rateyourstudents. Seems that “Dana from Decatur”, a diva CC instructor and Eddie, a “non-traditional” student have tangled over how older students need to relate to their instructors.

I can relate. I adjunct at EMU, where I’m finishing my PhD and at a SLAC just down the road. I also teach in a distance-learning Masters program which caters to mid-career students. Each set of students are quite different. Leaving the differences between my EMU and SLAC students for now, there is a huge difference between my 18-20-something and my adult sections. One thing that Dana misses, IMHO, is that there is a distinct difference between the practice of pedagogy (teaching children) and andragogy (teaching adults). Most traditional college settings really need pedagogical skill, since most (but not all) of these students take a child-like view toward their education, and definitely need someone to direct their learning, provide structure, and help them build the experience which they lack. Adult learners tend to take a more focused and pragmatic view. This goes beyond having to balance life and school. Adult learners have significant experience, and so instructors need to help them connect their experience to the classroom subject. Adult learners are also more self directed, so the instructor needs to help guide them to the right places — a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage”.

I don’t teach in the CC setting, so I can keep these two approaches largely separate. So a CC instructor needs to be really sensitive to the differences and be prepared to meet the needs of both sets of learners rather than just taking a “one size fits all” approach. My $.02

Dana from Decatur sends an open letter to the old dudes in her class

Eddie Takes Issue with Decatur Dana’s Policy on Old Dudes


1 Comment »

  1. Hi there!

    I’m the Guide to Continuing Education at, part of The New York Times Company. I found your blog very interesting and blogged about you on my site today. 🙂

    The scuffle is interesting, and unfortunate, all by itself, but I’m more interested in your thoughts about andragogy vs. pedagogy. Stop by when you have a chance.

    Good luck with the job hunt!


    Comment by Deb Peterson — February 3, 2009 @ 12:25 pm | Reply

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