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Back to School Woes?

By: Sara Preston


Our Best Success Tips for New Adult Learners

It’s been a while since you’ve been in the classroom. Are you feeling uncertain about whether you remember how to learn?
At Western Continuing Studies, we pride ourselves on our commitment to delivering courses that are designed with the adult learner in mind. However, we are only one part of the equation that results in your academic success. Your own actions and attitudes play an important role in your continued growth and professional development.

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Brazil, “[effective] professional development may be mainly predicted by the use of three learning strategies at work: trial and error, seeking help from others and intrinsic and extrinsic reflection” (Haemer et al., 2017).

These learning strategies are associated with successful outcomes for adult learners wishing to expand on their professional skillsets… but what do these tools really look like when put into action in the classroom?


Take a look at our top suggestions for learning success


Trial and Error

Gone are the days of passively listening to our instructors lecturing at us – today’s classrooms provide students with ample opportunity to test out their new knowledge in a variety of ways. Trying and failing in a low-risk environment is a great way to learn, so go ahead and take a chance!

ACTION Don’t be afraid to really dive into role-playing activities and case studies. It takes time for our use of new skills to become more refined and automatic, and there is much less at stake when giving things a try in the classroom than there is on the job.


Seeking Help from Peers

Your fellow learners bring a variety of unique perspectives to the table, and their input may help you to find valuable connections between ideas and practical applications.

ACTION Respond to your instructor’s questions, or get involved in the group discussion, especially if you’re not sure whether you’re on the right track! Getting feedback on your ideas and sharing your perspective is crucial for helping you to recall your learning later with little effort.


Reflecting on Your Learning

Probably the most important thing you can do is take time to consider how the things you’ve learned in the classroom can be applied to your own life and work to help you meet your personal and professional goals!

ACTION Take notes while you learn, then go back over them once class is over. Adding brief reflections in the margins on how your learning is going to impact your personal or professional life will provide you with a starting point for putting your newly acquired knowledge into action!


Source: Haemer, H. D., Borges-Andrade, J. E., & Cassiano, S. K. (2017). Learning strategies at work and professional development. Journal of Workplace Learning, 29(6), 490-506. doi:10.1108/jwl-05-2016-0037



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