Dr. Eileen Schiffer published an article in Faculty Focus with advice for university faculty, whose students are increasingly working professionals with considerable experience in the field.
In the article titled Teaching Adult Students with Considerable Professional Expertise, Dr. Eileen Schiffer notes that the number of working adults pursuing college degrees is on the rise, and these non-traditional students “bring a wealth of personal and professional experience … which serves to benefit their academic cohort.”
These students are experts in their fields, motivated, ask more questions, and in general, are more actively engaged in their learning, Dr.Schiffer notes. Instructors should think of themselves as the students’ partner in working toward the students’ academic, personal and career goals.
Instructors are encouraged to capitalize on these students’ expertise, show respect for their wisdom, and allow students’ some say in determining relevant learning.
Dr. Schiffer’s checklist for instructors of adult students:
- Maximize the value of discussion contributions
- Utilize student-led discussions
- Effectively use team assignments
- Incorporate knowledge-level assignments
- Offer choices
- Reinforce paths to learning
In essence, Dr. Schiffer underscores that students who are also working professionals have expertise, and given the right conditions, their presence will enrich the classroom, benefiting all.
Eileen Schiffer, Ph.D., teaches organizational behavior, strategic leadership and ethical management in the School of Business at Marylhurst University. She is an industrial/organizational psychologist with professional and teaching experience in the areas of leadership, organizational change and motivation.