Whether you teach STEM, Health Science, or English Composition, it is important to create lessons where students see obvious benefit. Too often, students are given busy work. They know when this is happening, and it can cause them to grow suspicious toward the learning process. But when students are given ownership over their learning, they will not only be more motivated, they will retain the material better. According to the UDL guidelines Checkpoint 7.2, you can do this by determining ways to improve relevance, value, and authenticity.
There are several methods to do this. First, provide a variety of ways for students to learn the information. For example, some students may do well with reading assigned text, but others may prefer a podcast or documentary. Therefore, provide options such as videos, eTexts with adaptive reading, or even group work where students present the material to each other.
It is also important to allow for active participation. Being “lectured to” is the least active of all learning methods, so utilize more hands-on work where students can present information learned via video, storyboards, or even with interactive games.
When working with adult learners, embrace their differences and what they bring to the table. These students come from all walks of life and have varying perspectives. Encourage them to apply their life experiences to the learning process. Once allowed to choose, students will thrive. They will take pride in their work and feel a responsibility to you as the instructor and their classmates.