My whole educational journey began later than your normal college student. I graduated high school in 2000 but didn’t enroll in college until 2006 (at age 25). At the time, I didn’t see the need. It wasn’t until after the birth of my first child in 2005 that I considered educating myself for higher wages. For my undergrad, half of the courses were in person and half were online. I completed that program in 2010 and then enrolled into a MBA program in 2011 that was completely online. The master’s program finished the following year, then I enrolled into an online doctorate program and completed that in 2016. Over the course of my business education, I’ve seen every variety of teaching adult learners, and can gladly concur with the underlining text for this module’s discussion.
During my undergraduate studies in economics and finance, the focus was mostly on theory. This method of learning does not appeal to adult learners. “Adults heave a deep desire to see that the content they are learning can have immediate application to their life, vocation, or ministry.” During this time, I knew that learning theories was needed for the degree, so students had to suffer through it. However, I am unable to recall most of those theories today and I even work as a full-time economist. Knowing what I know now from the Lowe and Lowe text, it is my opinion that the university did a poor job in showing the immediate application to life and vocation. Likewise, my undergraduate university preferred the old way of doing things, which required strict time limits on everything. In the MBA course that I currently teach, I’ve learned from this experience and have completely eliminated time constraints on all assignments, just as long as the students have everything turned in by the last day of class.
The MBA program was ran similarly to the undergraduate program. Many theories on management styles and finance was taught. Again, I am unable to recall those theories now. But, what I do remember is the application skills that were stressed in that program. The MBA program was slightly more hands on, meaning that we were given hypothetical real-world situations for which to mock up a financial analysis. Learning how to do this made the classes much more interesting because I knew that completing a task like that would be something that I’d need to know for the future. These skills were shared using Lowe and Lowe’s recommended methods of visual and kinesthetic-tactile. The professor would show us an example and then give the students the opportunity to work together in manually solving a similar problem, and then developing a presentation as if we were decision-makers of a company needing to offer a proposal. Since this method had a greater impact on my learning, this is exactly how I currently run my MBA course at the University of Maryland Global Campus.
My doctorate program was completely different from my undergraduate program. Time limits were completely removed, except for the last day of class. There was much reading, but the activities that were considered deliverables were taught with a hands-on approach. Many skills and concepts stressed in this program were introduced briefly during my undergraduate and MBA programs, but the doctorate program is where I got the most out of it. During this program, we were shown step-by-step how to use research libraries, find data, clean data to put into a usable format for research, and then to run the statistical tests and interpret the results. We were even clearly instructed on how to write up the results in an academic format. The university even went as far as to advise us on how to construct a sentence that showed the proof, and all we did was replace specific values. This was also where I learned a different type of writing that the university called “MEAL.”
Having seen the variety of teaching techniques and knowing what has worked best for me over the years had allow me to replicate these best practices for my students. This is because I have been able to reflect upon my experiences and see how learning should be life-centered. Now that I am starting a new journey at Liberty, I am even more excited because I know how I learn best and can consciously make the efforts of learning the material using my preferred learning style. This new adventure isn’t something that I’m doing for vocational purposes, but is something that I feel that I must do. It is extremely important to me for ministry purposes. Knowing this, I have a seriousness to learn the materials to the best of my abilities, and feel that the Lord will bless my efforts. If I were not to take this seriously, then I would feel as if I were letting God down in what I feel he’s calling me to do. Therefore, I must put more effort in better learning the materials in my MDiv and DMin programs than I did during my business programs.
Knowing this information as taught by Lowe and Lowe, this will also help as I construct lessons and sermons in the future. I’ll stay away from a lecture style of teaching, and make the content interactive as much as I can. This will take some work and I know that I’ll have to seek others that are doing similar things so that I can replicate their process. Replication is a way that I learn best. Replication is basically what Lowe and Lowe describe in learning through audio, visual, and kinesthetic-tactile – being told, shown, and given hands-on demonstration on completing a specific tasks for a desired outcome.
Lowe, Stephen D. and Mary E. Lowe. Orienting Adults to Learning in Graduate Theological Education. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2017.