In this series of six tutorials, I'll be walking you through the process of aligning your professional development to Knowles' six assumptions for adult learners. Recall that the six assumptions are self-concept, experience, readiness, problem-centered orientation, internal motivation, and the need to know. It's important for us to analyze our professional development plans in the context of adult learning theories in all stages of professional learning from the design to the implementation.
Teachers need to be able to connect the various stages of their learning to the acquisition of new knowledge and skills and to their classroom practice. Knowles' six assumptions of adult learning can help us here as they provide a framework for analyzing our professional development. For each of Knowles' six assumptions, I'll guide you through a three step process.
We'll begin by identifying the areas of existing alignment. We'll then identify areas of possible misalignment, and finally, we'll identify specific areas for enhancement. This analysis of our professional development is going to be an evaluative process, so I will be providing you with some evaluative questions and possible solutions that I recommend you use throughout the process.
Evaluative questions are going to ask for an opinion or ask for a belief or a point of view. So it's important to remember that these types of questions don't have any wrong answers. Rather they are meant to spark some thought and to get you to consider multiple points of view as we go through the process of alignment.
As we go through this process, I will be referring to a sample professional development plan. Note that this plan includes the focus area of professional development, the site goal, and the alignment to district goals, along with action steps, resources, a timeline, details about who is responsible and who is involved, and evidence. The two action steps outlined in this plan are aligning curriculum to common core standards and enhancing instruction with technology.
We'll look at various aspects of this plan more closely as we go through the alignment process. In this tutorial, we'll analyze alignment to Knowles' fifth assumption of adult learners, internal motivation. This assumption tells us that adult learners tend to be mostly driven by internal motivation to learn instead of by external motivators.
Adult learners value learning opportunities that lead them to personal growth and fulfillment. Step one of the alignment process is to identify areas of existing alignment. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself about your professional development plan to determine whether the plan is aligned with this assumption.
If there is alignment, do the professional development activities increase the internal motivators and the self actualization opportunities for the learners in the context of their professional growth? Does the professional development align with teachers internal motivators? Do the professional development opportunities increase self-efficacy through the incorporation of new knowledge and new learning?
Does the professional development improve the learners quality of life through the acquisition of knowledge and skills? Step two in the alignment process is to identify areas of misalignment. Here, you'll be looking to identify specific instances, where the assumption is violated or where the assumption is not applied to the professional development plan.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself about your professional development plan for step two. If there isn't alignment, what changes could be made to involve learners and their internal motivators, like self-efficacy and a better quality of life as part of the learning process? What can be done differently to increase the alignment to the internal motivation of the participants?
And finally, step three of the alignment process is to identify areas for potential enhancement. Remember that in this step, you may be identifying particular elements of the plan in which the approach is just fine, but the design could still be altered in order to create better alignment. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself about your professional development plan.
What could be changed in order to foster optimal learning for the adult learners? What could be improved in order to strengthen the professional development activities and increase the connections to the learners internal motivators? Let's return to the sample professional development plan to check for alignment to the assumption of internal motivation.
Step one is to identify areas of existing alignment. Unfortunately, there's not a great deal of alignment here to this assumption. Most of the motivators in this plan seem to be external rather than internal, so let's take a look at step two, identifying areas of misalignment.
The external motivators that seem to be inherent in this plan are a district request to align curriculum to the common core standards and a district initiative to enhance instruction using technology. So in step three, when we identify areas for potential enhancement, this district may consider including as part of the training process some connections to teachers likely internal motivators. For example, part of the training process on enhancing instruction with technology could include information about how incorporating technology into instruction is beneficial not just for the students, but for the teacher as well.
Tasks, like taking attendance and sharing homework assignments with students who have been absent, can be streamlined through the use of technology. This approach could be applied in the first action step as well. As part of the August training, the curriculum director could underscore for teachers how the alignment of their curriculum to the common core standards can ultimately benefit them and their classroom routines.
Planting the seeds for the connections to these internal motivators, like self-efficacy and the better quality of life in one's workplace, can really help us to foster this assumption of internal motivation. So here's your chance to stop and reflect. Examine your professional development plan for alignment to the fifth assumption of adult learners, internal motivation.
For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks for watching today. Have a great day.
(00:00 - 02:14) Introduction to Professional Development Alignment
(02:15 - 02:37) Assumption #5
(02:38 - 03:24) Step 1
(03:25 - 04:03) Step 2
(04:04 - 04:40) Step 3
(04:41 - 06:26) Alignment of Sample Plan
(06:27 - 06:59) Stop and Reflect
Teachers as Adult Learners: Re-conceptualizing Professional Development
This research article from the MPAEA Journal of Adult Education points to the importance of considering andragogy in the creation and delivery of professional development.
A Handbook for Professional Learning: Research, Resources, and Strategies for Implementation
This guidebook from the New York City Department of Education incorporates Adult Learning Theory into its model of professional learning. Included in the handbook are useful planning and evaluation tools.