Critical Thinking

Shantel Farnan conducted a critical thinking presentation about teaching adult students to Northwest faculty March 16. Farnan presented alongside Tamara Lynn as a part of their Faculty Professional Development Day workshop.

Assistant Professor Tamara Lynn and Assistant Professor Shantel Farnan ran a presentation made to help Northwest faculty meet the needs of adult learners in a part two of their Faculty Professional Development Day workshop March 17. 

The presentation guided professors through many ways they can make their classes more conscious of the needs of adult learners.

“Being a higher-ed instructor, I think we are artists and scientists,” Lynn said. “So, we do have to perfect our craft. And part of that is the teaching component, so that’s what we’re just hoping to enhance by doing this presentation for some of our colleagues.”

Farnan and Lynn said crafting a program that is more genuine and related to teaching what is needed for their potential future jobs is vital. One way that professors can do this is by utilizing job descriptions for jobs their students might go for in the future. Instructors can mold their program around the skills and knowledge presented as necessary by the job descriptions to better prepare students for the jobs they will be going into.

There were multiple ways presented that could help teachers find their way in making classes better for adult learners. The first tip was causing students to critically think more in class. The importance of critical thinking in classes has risen because of how much people can rely on their phones to gather information.

“Well now the knowledge is at our fingertips,” Farnan said. “So, now we need to spend our time (figuring out) how do we use that knowledge in a productive way. So, as the world has changed, that’s how we need to change at the higher-ed level. We don’t need to necessarily teach as much regurgitated content because that’s at our fingertips all the time.” 

Lynn said with careers coming in the future that do not exist now, students knowing how to find solutions to problems via technology is important.

The two also presented several assignment ideas that can be utilized to increase engagement, such as students having to make infographics from information that is appropriate to their field.

Farnan said engagement is important because it reveals the practicality of the information being shown in class to students, as they can see how it’s applicable to their futures, and that this application makes students more engaged. 

The current generation of students presents newfound challenges to university staff. Farnan and Lynn said that there are goals professors can utilize to adhere to this new generation of students, such as being culturally responsive, allowing their students to better know them through authenticity, caring for their students’ wellness and more. 

Cooperative learning strategies provide flexibility in the classroom to atone to different types of students. Introverted students can be assisted through different classroom discussion, such as using groups compared to bigger groups so that the introvert may still participate without being overwhelmed.

“We do it because we enjoy it,” Lynn said. “We want to share what we know to help to make our Northwest students’ experiences better.” 

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