TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE

 
TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
Teaching Adult
   Learners At UniSIM

A Publication Of UniSIM’s Teaching & Learning Centre
TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
Contents

Preface                          01
Teaching Adult Learners          02
Adult Learners at UniSIM         06
Engaging UniSIM Adult Learners   09
Concluding Words                 20
Contact Us                       21
TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
Preface

Welcome to SIM University (UniSIM). The fact that you have been chosen to be a
member of UniSIM associate family clearly recognizes your relevant disciplinary
knowledge.

Most of you are also likely to have a range of impressive industrial experience and
about half of you are likely to have prior teaching experience. UniSIM values your
expertise and experience and wants to ensure that you are well supported in your
teaching role to facilitate student learning.

Teaching is an honourable profession. A good teacher can inspire students and help
them to excel beyond their self-expectations and achieve their potential.

 “Teaching is the essential profession,
 the one that makes all other professions possible.”
                                         President Bill Clinton in Promising Practices:
                                        New Ways to Improve Teacher Quality (1998)

Given the importance of teaching, it is therefore crucial that teachers equip
themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills to enrich and empower their
students to excel.

Obviously, every educational institution has its contextual uniqueness. In the case of
UniSIM, it is the only higher educational institution in Singapore which offers degree
programmes that cater to the needs of adult learners and working professionals.

At UniSIM, students study part-time in addition to holding responsibilities such as
working full-time, running a business or caring for their families. They come from
varied educational backgrounds and have different work experiences. They could
have taken different educational paths to UniSIM. Such contextual nuances have
implications on your role as an instructor.

To this end, the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) has produced this booklet to
provide you an introduction to what you need to know about the adult learner
context at UniSIM. Such an understanding will help you to teach effectively.

This booklet comprises three parts: Part 1 introduces you to the theoretical
underpinnings of teaching adult learners, Part 2 examines the contextual nuances at
UniSIM with regard to teaching adult learners, and Part 3 suggests good practices of
teaching adult learners based on empirical–evidence.

We hope that this booklet will serve as a quick, yet comprehensive guide to teaching
adult learners at UniSIM.

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TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
1. Teaching Adult Learners

    UniSIM believes in lifelong learning and provides opportunities for working
    professionals and adult learners to continuously enhance their knowledge and skills.
    UniSIM’s vision and mission is as follows.

                                       Our Vision
                     Empowering society through lifelong education,
              remaining responsive to diverse learning needs and aspirations.

                                       Our Mission
                    To create excellence in lifelong education through a
                          uniquely-designed learning experience,
                           equipping learners for a better future.

    This unified vision and mission directs the various processes and system in UniSIM.

    As a UniSIM instructor, you play a pivotal role in engaging and guiding students in
    their learning journey, be it through face-to-face, blended or online lessons.

    In fact you are the “face” of UniSIM that students will meet and remember, even
    long after they have graduated. The impact that you will make on students and the
    impression you create will be long-standing. This highlights the need for careful
    preparation as an instructor.

    The first step towards good teaching lies in understanding the learner. In UniSIM’s
    context, this will be the adult learner.

    The educational literature describes adult learner in a number of different ways;
    based on age, responsibilities they cope with, their level of preparation and the
    experience as well as qualifications they hold.

    In UniSIM’s case, our admission criterion defines our adult learners. The criterion is
    that students should have

                       Two years of work experience or be currently
                       employed on a full-time basis

    Having established that teaching at UniSIM involves teaching adult learners, the
    obvious question is whether teaching such adult learners is any different from
    teaching younger learners or learners who may not have the benefit of work
    experience.

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TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
While some may feel that teaching requires generic skills and that it does not
matter whether the learners are young or old, there is also the view that the level of
curriculum taught and the methods used to teach would vary with student profile
and nature of discipline.

It is evident UniSIM’s adult learners are diverse in nature and that they have to
juggle multiple roles and responsibilities. Now, what could be the implications of
the learner’s nature on their approach to learning? Why do these learners want to
learn? When do they want to learn? What do they want to learn? How do they want
to learn?

Adult learners want to learn because there is a need to upgrade their knowledge and
skills to compete in the globalized work force. Some may pursue higher education
for esoteric reasons or to catch up on missed opportunities. Therefore, learning for
these students tends to be purpose- driven.

Having the benefits of work experience, they are clear about what they want to study
and why. Hence they are self-directed.

Being experienced, their tacit knowledge (not just of the content knowledge and
skills, but also the 21st century skills) equips them with learning to learn skills and
gives them more independence in how they choose to learn. The 21st century learning
skills are the skills that are expected of a 21st century learner and these include
ways of thinking (critical and creative thinking), ways of working (collaborating and
communicating), ways of using technology tools and life skills.

Knowles, known as father of Andragogy, makes six crucial assumptions about the
characteristics of adult learners (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2011).

           Did you know?

           The art and science of teaching adult learners is called
           andragogy. It stems form the Greek word “andra”, which stands
           for man and “gogy”, which means to lead.

           This is in contrast to the term “pedagogy” which refers to leading
             young children, that is teaching young children.

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TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
Six Characteristics of Adult Learners
                           (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2011)*

       1. The need to know: Adults need to know why they are learning what they
          are learning. That is, they need to know the purpose.
       2. Self-concept: With maturity, the learner moves from being dependent on
          the teacher to being self-directed. They are more independent.
       3. Experience: As a person matures he/she accumulates a growing reservoir of
          experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.
       4. Readiness to learn. As a person matures, the readiness to learn becomes
          aligned with their developmental tasks and social roles.
       5. Orientation to learning. Adults learn because they want to apply what they
          have learnt.
       6. Motivation to learn: As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal,
          and there is a desire to want to learn.
     * Knowles, M.S., Swanson, R. A., & Holton, E, F. (2011). The Adult Learner, Seventh
     Edition: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development.

    This set of characteristics is in contrast to younger learners who attend school because
    it is required of them. Younger learners are very dependent and reliant on teachers to
    provide all the learning materials. They have very little choice and voice in selecting
    what they want to study, and the learning tends to be towards gaining fundamental
    knowledge. Younger learners also lack the experience that adult learners bring to
    studies. Their motivation is dictated very much by extrinsic factors including parental
    pressure or social norms.

    Given the difference between adult and young learners, we can understand why it
    might not be effective to use the same instructional strategies across the two groups.
    Our concern here at UniSIM is in choosing the right teaching strategies for our adult
    learners.

    A typical learning strategy to teach young children involves the drilling method of
    teaching in which students are required to memorize facts such as timetables, or a
    method to derive a mathematical theorem, or scientific principles. While students
    may be able to do all these, they may not have understood the concepts or know
    how to apply them.

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TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
For instance, even if students have learnt the facts about cells and cell membranes,
they may not be able to apply this knowledge in situations such as proposing a
method to kill a particular microbe.

What they have learnt are simply facts and applying this to an abstract context
would be considerably difficult. Using the drilling method to teach and expecting
students to apply the delivered knowledge will be a stretch and ineffective. As such,
appropriate teaching methods should be utilized to meet the learners’ needs and
bring about the expected outcomes.

In order to select the appropriate teaching strategies to utilize at UniSIM, it will be
useful to know more about the adult learners at UniSIM. Such information would
be helpful in choosing the teaching strategy even before meeting them. This could
be further refined after getting to know the students. So, let us take a look at the
student profile at UniSIM.

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TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
2. Adult Learners at UniSIM

    UniSIM students come from diverse backgrounds, be it in terms of age, discipline,
    knowledge, skills or profession. They also have unique individual differences and life
    situations. While there is no one profile that can fit all UniSIM students, there are
    some general patterns.

    There are currently about 13,000 students at UniSIM, with an equal male to female
    ratio. A majority of these students are in their 30s, with the student population’s age
    ranging from early 20s to over 50s.

    As for their prior education, most of our UniSIM students hold at least a polytechnic
    diploma. Amongst the remaining others, some could be A-level graduates with a few
    others being degree holders.

                                                      0.2%  (18)  
                Age  Groups           1.9%  (225)                       1.0%  (124)  

                                                                             5.2%  (626)  

                                                                                             >60  
                                                                                             51-­‐60  
                                                                     17.2%  (2,061)  
                                                                                             41-­‐50  
                                                                                             31-­‐40  
                                                                                             21-­‐30  
                                74.5%  (8,932)  
TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
Mr. Francis, who graduated with a degree from UniSIM, explains that

“I liked the programme offered by UniSIM as the curriculum structure and content
were excellent and up-to-date. Its flexibility in accommodating the schedules of adult
students was also a plus. In 2001, my wife was hospitalized and it was a difficult time as
I was also preparing for my assignments and exams. UniSIM was very understanding
and allowed me to defer my assignments. The University also offered me an affordable
and flexible installment plan when I had difficulties paying my fees for the following
year.”

    Ms. Rachel Teo

  • Graduated from UniSIM with Diploma in Chinese Language
    & Translation.
  • Owner of an online business, Libella Bedwear, which
    specializes in pajamas.
  • Mother of three children.

Ms. Teo, who graduated with a diploma from UniSIM, decided to start up her own
business half way through her UniSIM course. Initially, she was juggling a full-time
job and her studies at UniSIM. Being a mother of three children, and having to cope
with various responsibilities, Rachel found it challenging managing time. Fortunately,
UniSIM’s flexible programme schedule enabled her to manage her time better.

It is evident that many of our students have to juggle work, studies and family. One
main issue that our students face is the lack of time. They might be physically tired as
they come in to class after their work. Some of them may have difficulty in attending
all the classes on time or even at all, due to work commitments (Attendance in some
courses is not compulsory).

Even when they are in class, they may be so tired that their attention span is short
and their concentration level is low. Students may be so busy that they do not have
the time to read the materials ahead of the class.

With many of our students having taken a break from studies prior to joining UniSIM,
they may not be in the best state of preparedness. They may need help in study skills
and may have low self-confidence. These are just some of the possible challenges
that UniSIM students may face at an individual level.

Yet, UniSIM students are committed, and ready to go the extra mile because they
have made a choice to continue their education.

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TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS AT UNISIM - A PUBLICATION OF UNISIM'S TEACHING & LEARNING CENTRE
One of the key questions that we need to ask ourselves as instructors is how to
    engage our students so that they are enthusiastic, motivated and remain as active
    participants despite the challenges they face in their learning journey.

    Another aspect we need to consider is the educational outcomes that we want for our
    graduates. UniSIM hopes that the students have the following graduate outcomes:

                               UniSIM Graduate Outcomes

       •   Independent learner
       •   Learns by doing
       •   Able to think critically
       •   A team player and appreciates group work
       •   A problem solver
       •   Equipped with the ability to use technology as a means to seek answers
       •   Adaptable

    To achieve these graduate outcomes, we need to ensure that teaching is tailored
    towards not just to meeting the student needs but is also aligned with UniSIM’s
    vision and mission. In other words, there needs to be an alignment between UniSIM’s
    mission, teaching practices and expected outcomes

                                  UniSIM's Vision and
                                        Mission
                                   directed graduate
                                       outcomes

                         Student's
                                                       Teaching
                         Learning
                                                       Strategies
                          Needs

    The next section offers some strategies to engage our adult learners.

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3. Engaging UniSIM Adult Learners

                                          The preceding discussion raises the
                                          question on how to engage adult learners
                                          such that our efforts are aligned with
                                          UniSIM’s vision and mission as well as
                                          graduate outcomes.

                                          One way to approach this task is to
                                          explore what the literature reports as
                                          good teaching practices for adult learners
                                          and understand if and how it fits in with
                                          the UniSIM context.

Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven good practices of teaching, which is distilled
from over 50 years of the literature on teaching practices, provides us with some
guidelines. The recommended practices are:

                        Seven Good Practices of Teaching
                        (Chickering and Gamson, 1987)*

     I.    Encouraging Contact Between Students and Instructor.
     II.   Developing Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students.
     III. Using Techniques for Active Learning.
     IV. Giving Prompt Feedback.
     V.    Emphasizing Time on Task.
     VI. Communicating High Expectations.
     VII. Respecting Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning.

 *Arthur W. Chickering, & Zelda F. Gamson, (1987).
 Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, American
 Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 3-7.

Let us now consider each of these practices.

I. Encouraging Contact Between Students and Instructor.

Chickering and Gamson (1987) explain that frequent student-faculty interaction
is one of the most important factors in motivating and involving students. They
presume that meaningful interaction with instructors inspires students to learn and
think about their own values, commitments and future plans.

                                                                                       9
Student feedback from UniSIM’s end-of-course evaluation on teaching also indicated
     the same. Students found instructors who are approachable to be motivating.

     More specifically, they hoped that their instructors would be more empathetic and
     understanding of their challenges as adult, part-time students, and therefore be
     willing to be patient and helpful in answering course-related queries.

     Contrary to a common myth that students expect model-answers and notes, they
     clarified that they just wanted the instructors to be approachable enough to ask for
     guidance and directions.

     They also wanted to be treated as mature students. For instance, they did not want
     to be nagged at or be at the receiving end of sarcastic remarks. Students suggested
     that instructors build a good rapport with them to facilitate smooth communication.

                    In a sharing session (during the Faculty Learning Day 2012), Ms.
                    Aminah D/O Mohammed Shariff, a HDSS student, recounted that
                    her first-year instructor’s encouragement and guidance led her to
                    continue with her part time studies despite the challenges she was
                    facing as a part-time student then.

                      Thus, your role as an instructor may extend beyond the teaching of
                      content knowledge. Having said that, do take note that you are not
     left alone to handle this on your own. There are several existing support systems
     (such as those listed below) which will help you help your students.
     Resource                           Services/Resources
     TLC website                        Provides relevant resources/information such
                                        as (1) student development modules, (2)
     http://tlc.unisim.edu.sg/          academic writing support and (3) workshops
     publications.htm                   for student learning (e.g., Successful Learning
                                        At UniSIM, Introduction to Academic Writing)
     UniSIM Library website             Online databases/e-books/books/workshops

     http://www1.sim.edu.sg/sim/
     pub/slib/index.cfm
     C3 - Counselling and Care          Offers individual counselling to discuss
     Corner                             concerns (e.g. balancing studies/work/family,
                                        processing personal & interpersonal issues)
     http://www.unisim.edu.sg/          in a safe environment where confidentiality is
     about-unisim/Centres/C-three/      upheld.
     Pages/C-Three-overview.aspx

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Here are some tips on what instructors can do to build good rapport with the students

 1. Take initiative to establish contact with students
    Instructors could self-introduce themselves to the students ahead of the class
    through the learning management system. The following screen shots show
    the introduction page in our Blackboard. Instructors could include information
    such as (1) instructor’s background, (2) what instructor hopes to achieve in
    teaching the class, (3) instructor’s expectations and (4) how instructor will
    support student learning.

                   Blackboard page to introduce yourself to students

     Name: Dr Helen Bernstone  

     Email: ABC@unisim.edu.sg

     Tel (optional): 6XXXXXX (O) and/or 9XXXXXXX (HP)

     About myself (no more than 150 words):
     I’m a native from New Zealand, and an educator for the past 20 years. My experience
     spans both private and government organisations. I’m also a member of the advisory
     committee for postgraduate programmes in early childhood education at the University of
     Flinders, Australia. I have managed, taught, and mentored early childhood teachers in
     five countries – New Zealand, UK, Qatar, Australia, and Singapore.

     As senior lecturer with SEED Institute in Singapore, I’ve taught diploma and degree
     programmes in Early Childhood Education at Wheelock College (Ngee Ann Polytechnic)
     and SIM University.

     I’ve learnt a lot from my students over the years. Hence, I believe that learning is a
     collaborative, two-way process.

     When I’m not teaching or grading assignments, I love to garden and go for long walks. I
     have two dogs, one cat, and a hamster – and they all get along fine! I love horror movies,
     and my favorite holiday is Halloween.

                                   Sample Introductory note

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2. Get to know the names of your students
         If you teach a large number of students, start by learning the names of at least
         10 to 30 students. Taking the initiative to chat with the students during break,
         or before or after class will also help you to get know your students and build
         rapport with them. Students who are shy may wait for a less intimidating
                          opportunity, such as when you are alone, to ask questions. So
                          you need to be prepared to build in this time in your lesson
                          plan.

                          Mr. Peh Wee Leng, Associate Faculty from SBIZ, who won the
                          Teaching Excellence Award in 2012, believes that the secret to
                          being a good teacher is to be an “interested teacher”, rather
                          than being an “interesting teacher”.
      3. Share interesting work-related experiences (that are relevant to the subject
         discussed)
         This allows students to get to know about the real-world experience that are
         not found in the textbook pages. Students do not just want to learn concepts
         from the textbook. They are very much interested in understanding how the
         concepts are applied in the real-world. Sharing your industrial experience
         can engage students in discussion, and inspire them. It should however be
         remembered that what students are interested in hearing about are content-
         related experiences rather than personal achievements.
      4. Inject Humour
         Classes can be fun and do not have to be dead-serious. Injecting humour in
         class and genuinely reaching out to students will help build good rapport.

     II. Developing Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students

     It is thought that learning could be enhanced even more in a collaborative or social
     situation rather than when it is just individualistic or isolated. This requires effective
     facilitation. Therefore, instructors need to not only utilize collaborative activities;
     they need to also facilitate the collaborative activities effectively.

     In fact, UniSIM students also indicated in the end-of-course evaluation that they
     valued group discussions and collaborations. Given that students are keen and it is
     useful for student learning, instructors need to invest time and resources in planning
     such activities.

     Collaborative activities can be conducted during class time and can be in the
     form of mind-mapping or debating. It could also be out-of-class activities such as
     contributing to a team/class blog/wiki.

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Some of our UniSIM colleagues who utilize such collaborative activities in their
teaching shared their experiences in a series of workshops in the year 2012.
Recordings of these sharing sessions are found in TLC’s repository at http://tlc.unisim.
edu.sg/tl_repository.htm. The topics covered were:

1. Listening with Journal 			                2. Mind-mapping as a Teaching Tool

3. Using Blogs for Teaching 			              4. Teaching through Facebook

                  Examples of sharing sessions by UniSIM colleagues

When UniSIM students were
asked in a panel discussion
on the use of social media
tools for academic purposes,
their responses revealed
that careful selection of
tools for communication and
collaboration would be the
way to go.

                                                                                           13
Ms. Joey Chin (SASS) suggested that tools like Twitter can be used for
                     making class announcements since they allow for timely
                     communication of relevant information in a convenient manner.

                     Based on the instructors’ and students’ sharing sessions as well
                     as what we know from the literature, it can be summed up that
                     instructors need to consider the following questions when including
                     collaborative activities:

      •   Why do I want to use collaborative activities?
      •   Are the activities designed to require collaborative work?
      •   Which technology tool should I use for the collaborative activities?
      •   How do I facilitate the collaborative activities?
      •   How do I evaluate and provide feedback on collaboration?
      •   When should I use collaborative activities in the course of my lesson?

     III. Using Techniques for Active Learning

     According to Chickering and Gamson (1987) “learning is not a spectator sport”
     but it “involves active learning.” Students do not learn much just by sitting in class,
     listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and regurgitating.
     This is especially important for adult learners who need to understand why they are
     learning what they are learning and figure out how to apply this knowledge to real-
     world contexts.

     Active learning means getting students to be actually engaged in an activity
     (experiential/immersive) activity, or engaged in mental work/thinking process
     (cognitive engagement), or engaged in team work to co-construct knowledge (social
     engagement).

     It is evident from students’ responses in end-of-course evaluation that they valued
     (1) well-organized, clear, logical presentations, with (2) relevant examples that draw
     their attention, help them to understand, make them think and motivate them to
     want to work on.

     In order to engage students in active learning, instructors could utilize various
     teaching techniques such as:

      • Showing examples from real-life, TV shows, movies or videos that students are
        likely to be familiar with
      • Getting students to prepare and share or teach
      • Using Socratic questioning to make students think deeper, analyse and reason

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• Requiring students to collaborate and learn from each other (using tools
   mentioned such as mind map, face book, blog, wiki).

Thus, instead of simply providing all the information, instructors can encourage
students to take responsibility for their own learning.

If instructors keep “spoon feeding”, they are simply doing a disservice to adult
learners. However, it is possible that some students expect to be “spoon fed” and the
therefore instructors need to communicate their expectations to their students.

IV. Giving Prompt Feedback

In general, students need prompt and constructive feedback to understand their
learning gaps and improve further. To provide meaningful feedback, UniSIM utilizes
both formative and summative assessments.

Tutor marked assignments, online discussions, and formative quizzes (in e-modules)
can be considered as formative assessments. The feedback on these assignments
guides students during the learning process itself.

The end-of module exams are summative and are used to measure students’
understanding in comparison to the cohort. The feedback from summative
assessments is likely to be useful for other modules even though it may be perceived
to be too late for that particular module.

                A/P Neelam Aggarwal, Founding Director, TLC, explains why
                provision of detailed feedback on assignments is especially
                important in UniSIM

                “Given that attendance is not compulsory (for many courses); there
                is minimal face-to-face contact time. As such, it is important that
                students should be able to clarify their doubts and address any
                learning gaps.”

Timely feedback is critical in the UniSIM context since each module lasts for 6 lessons.
Within that time frame, students have a number of assignments. If instructor’s
feedback on Tutor marked assignment 1 (TMA1) is not prompt, students cannot
utilize the feedback effectively for TMA2 or the end-of-module exam.

Since both our instructors and students may not have the time to meet one-to-one,
it is essential that the feedback is rich enough to be self-explanatory.

                                                                                           15
Students need to know what their learning gaps are, what to improve, and how to
     improve. In addition, this feedback should be delivered in a constructive manner so
     that students are encouraged to try harder.

     To find more information on providing constructive feedback, you can refer to
     the professional development course in Blackboard on the same title (Providing
     Constructive Feedback), under course code AD104.

     Overall, UniSIM”s teaching and learning model encourages independent learning
     places a high importance on provision of timely, constructive and relevant feedback.

     V. Emphasising Time on Task

     Effective use of time is critical for adult learners who need to cope with multiple
     roles and responsibilities. Hence there is a need to set reasonable time limits for the
     assignments and communicate the various deadlines clearly.

     To do so, it is important that instructors are clear about administrative information
     such as when the exams are and when the TMAs are due. If anything is unclear,
     instructors are encouraged to consult with their Associate Faculty (AF) or Head of
     Programme (HoP).

     Instructors should be also well-prepared, be it in terms of content, using technology
     tools or managing discussion work. They should make effective use of the time in
     class. While students are given 14 weeks to study, they may essentially have only
     14 weekends. Hence, it is important to recognize the short time frame and craft
     meaningful, in-class learning activities.

     They need to plan their time in class catering to the attention span of the students
     and the difficulty of the subject matter. For instance, instructors could break their 3
     hour lesson into multiple short sessions, dedicated to different teaching activities.
     This is conceptually similar to “chunking” in video lecturing for blended e-modules.

     To cater to the needs of working adults, and accommodate learning anytime,
     anywhere, several of the modules at UniSIM are now being delivered in a blended
     learning mode. Instructors should also consider how to blend classroom and online
     activities for a smooth, meaningful learning.

     In sum, emphasizing time on task requires that instructors are well-prepared and are
     equipped with relevant knowledge or information (content, administrative, technical,
     and technology-related). The expectations on tasks should also be communicated
     clearly to the students.

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VI. Communicating High Expectations

Setting high expectations is important for everyone -- for the poorly prepared, for
those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well-motivated.

While the earlier point on emphasizing time on task discussed setting expectations,
especially with regard to timing and sequencing of events, this point highlights the
need to set high expectations.

It is a good idea for instructors to discuss not just (1) what to do, and (2) when to
submit, but also (3) discuss how the assignments will be evaluated, (4) the rubrics or
evaluation criteria and (5) guide students on setting goals.

Discussing evaluation criteria and providing rubrics ahead of assignment will clarify
what is expected. This will help students to set reasonable expectations and work
towards that.

To be able to do so, instructors need to be clear on these aspects in the first instance.

Here is a reminder from one of our Teaching Excellence Award winners (2011), Mr.
Laurence Ho, from HDSS:

                “It is important that as instructors we ask ourselves, Are we clear about
                the requirements? Are we clear about what are we looking out for that
                differentiate between an “A” paper and “B” paper, “C” paper and a “D”
                paper?”

                He explains that being clear as an instructor helps us convey the
                information clearly and helps the students to feel assured and
                confident.

By clearly spelling out what the learning outcomes of the course are, what students
are expected to know by the end of the course, how these objectives relate to their
discipline, and how the understanding of these concepts and application may be
tested, students can self-monitor their understanding and progress.

VII. Respecting Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Adult learners come from varied backgrounds, and have wide-ranging expertise.
Harnessing this diversity and allowing them to utilize their diversity in co-constructing
knowledge will benefit them. Here are some tips:

                                                                                            17
1. Use of collaborative activities

         Instructors can build in learning activities that require collaboration. For
         instance, instructors can use online or classroom discussions, which require
         multiple perspectives and alternative solutions. In this manner, students will
         have an opportunity to utilize their experience and share their opinions.
      2. Use of (appropriate) multiple teaching strategies

         Instructors should also utilize multiple teaching strategies to engage students.
         For instance, instead of always lecturing, instructors could get the students to
         present using mind maps or use online tools such as blogs/wiki.

                     Example of UniSIM class in which students present

     However it should be noted that students may need to be prepared and supported in
     using the various instructional methods. This is evident from the following comment
     from a student on using social media tools.

                     Ms. Ashlyn Thia (SBIZ) explained although she is familiar with the use
                     of social media tools for other aspects of life such as shopping and
                     browsing, she is not confident in using the same tools for academic
                     work.

                     As such, instructors need to determine students’ learning needs and
                     preparedness so as to support them.

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3. Use multi-media

  To cater to different learning styles of
  students, instructors could employ videos,
  simulations and activities rather than limiting
  themselves to power point slides.

  Example of a video used to engage students

4. Use a number of examples to illustrate the same point

  Likewise, examples from multiple, and relevant disciplines will help diverse
  learners grasp the points more easily. This
  is in contrast to using examples from just a
  textbook or specific discipline. Knowing your
  students will also help you to plan what sort
  of examples to use.

  Example of real–life case-studies used in
  lessons

                  Mr. Chua Teck Sing, a student from SST points out that content
                  is often not the limiting factor as there are plenty of online
                  resources to read from. However, applying the content to
                  relevant situations is the missing link and this is where students
                  need the help of their instructors.

                                                                                       19
Concluding Words

     Having gone through the seven good teaching practices, you might wonder when to
     use which. What is needed is internalization of these seven principles and usage on
     a daily basis with an understanding that these principles are not mutually exclusive
     but interrelated.

     For instance, getting to know the students will help you in successfully implementing
     collaborative activities, which would in turn help to establish learning communities
     that can help students to be more self-directed. The learning communities can in turn
     enhance learning and increase motivation. Coming from a different angle, instructors
     setting clear and high expectations as well as providing prompt constructive feedback
     will engage students and enhance their learning and motivation as well. Likewise,
     catering to diverse needs will promote collaborative learning and motivation. Hence,
     instructors should aim to work towards incorporating all these principles rather than
     focusing on one at a time.

     It is also important that instructors are

      1. Reflective of their own teaching practices (teaching orientation and style )
      2. Seek to continually learn and keep up with the latest trends in teaching and
         learning
      3. Be willing to adapt or adopt innovative instructional strategies to match
         students’ needs and UniSIM’s vision and mission.
     This guidebook has attempted to address some of these points and shed light on
     what it takes to teach adult learners and provide background information on UniSIM
     students to indicate their possible needs and finally share good practices in teaching.

     We hope that this serves as an introductory tool for teaching at UniSIM. You will be
     happy to know that TLC provides additional resources for faculty development such
     as

      1. Online courses (mandatory in some cases, recommended in others)
      2. Online resources such as blog-posts, newsletter Communitas, website
      3. Face-to-face workshops on instructional strategies throughout the year and
      4. Faculty Learning Symposium which brings together experts in teaching and
         learning to share good teaching practices

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Contact Us

If you need any additional assistance or support in your teaching at UniSIM, please
feel free to contact any of the TLC faculty members.

You can contact us at:

 Address         SIM Clementi Centre, Level 4, 535A Clementi Road, Singapore
                 599491
 Office Hours    Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 5:30pm
                 Saturday, Sunday & Public holidays Closed
 Email Address tlc@unisim.edu.sg

                                                                                      21
SIM University
           461 Clementi Road
           Singapore 599491
             Tel: 6248 9777
           www.unisim.edu.sg

           CPE/UEN: 200504979Z
    Registered: 4 June 2010 - 3 June 2016

Information is current at time of print (June 2013)
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