SmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. Path to Workforce is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers, non-traditional students and those who forgo a traditional four-year college experience. This blog post is brought to you in partnership with ACTE.
Should learning be tailored for adult learners pursuing career and technical education? Yes! And that wasn’t a trick question. Think about adult learners and everything that competes with their time, everything that requires them to find a way to experience student satisfaction. CTE provides a true glimpse of what you can do and who you can become. When the course is tailored to the needs of the learners — clear learning objectives, authentic learning opportunities relevant to the career field, flexible learning environments (online or face-to-face) — and seen as a value-add, oh, how wonderful the learning experience becomes!
This reminds me of the story of Rosie, a young adult and single parent of a beautiful baby girl named Roslyn. Rosie knew she wasn’t quite ready for a four-year college or university, so she enrolled in a CTE program to attain a skill or trade in carpentry. Yes, carpentry, which is a non-traditional field, but unbiased pathway for women to career and technical skill attainment. She noted the course design fit her circumstance as a single mom. It was relevant to her life plans, providing hands-on simulations and real-world practicums, and allowing for collaboration and peer-to-peer input. The course was truly worth her time, a value-add.
How should CTE courses be tailored? First, know your learners. Know what they desire and what they bring to the table (single mothers/fathers, working parents, and/or busy adults), as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Second, know your content and explicitly teach the behaviors and skills required for success in that profession. Third, allow learners to analyze tasks to foster critical thinking and problem solving. CTE is about real situations and real problems that need to be solved and resolved.
So I’ll ask again: Should learning be tailored for adult learners pursuing CTE? Yes! And that still wasn’t a trick question. Our sustained economic development depends on it. CTE tailored for adult learners — all learners — matters!
The post also appears on ACTE’s Educators In Action blog.
Eboni Camille Chillis is the coordinator of Career Technical & Agricultural Education for Clayton County Public Schools.
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