Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to successfully increase test taking skills for adult learners: a comprehensive research aimed at ultimately having adult learners testing aptitudes evaluated with some recommendations.

Testing aptitudes in the adult learning setting is an aspect in which similarities exists between the potential of adult learners to pass their weekly assignments and the levels at which they are passing their exams.  Testing aptitude skills are vital for the adult learners’ achievement in all aspects of life.  Adult learners need to have strong testing skills in order to succeed within the confines of school life and real life applications. 
The goal of this research is to ultimately have adult learners testing aptitudes evaluated and make some tacit recommendations.  The goal will be reached by utilizing an effective teaching strategy while getting student feedback throughout the process.  The objectives are to elevate the adult learners’ mastery level on passing their weekly assignments and ultimately their courses. Adult learners will accomplish this by engaging in a survey that has been specifically designed to increase their testing aptitudes throughout an implementation period.  The implementation period will be the duration of the course or the program that the adult learner is enrolled in. Also, through the survey, adult learners will have a chance to select their preferred learning style. When adult learners become more engaged, are able to participate in class activities, have sufficient remediation, and are interested in a topic, the research has shown that their passing scores rise significantly.  In the classroom, methods of implementing effective teaching strategies and choosing interesting topics will ultimately increase student achievement in this selected population of adult learners. 
Theoretical Framework
As instructors, we use routines during lessons to deliver instruction, however, the usual classroom routine sometimes are not effective for developing new concepts. In my opinion, the adult learner will not have a deep understanding of the lesson and pass their required assessments. That is why the teacher would not be able to teach the subject effectively to them. An adult learner’s mind is at full point of maturity, therefore most concepts should be understood. It is our job to find out what styles adult learners want to learn in because they are, for the most part, set in their ways. Adult learners will need to know the gist of how the classroom will operate. Currently, most adult learning program or courses stress goals and objectives based on building knowledge and using skills in a coordinated curriculum. They fail to provide strategies for instruction early in the course. I do not think that in andragogy, education should be only taught by a content area specialist because a lot of other factors come into play. We, as teachers, need to account for each and every one of our students. A content-area specialist sole focus will be teaching the curriculum and make sure that every student understands the concept being taught. But there is a need to know what everyone brings to the table and how to better reach our students and therefore help raise their testing aptitudes.
Perhaps the greatest challenge that educators face is enabling adult learners that are subjected to different stresses of life improve their test taking skills. Many of these adult learners have children of their own who also face considerable barriers to their learning. Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in poverty, and they achieve academically at much lower levels than their more affluent peers. What can educators do to help such adult learners improve their test taking skills? In order to answer that question, we need to analyze every aspect of the adult learner’s abilities. We will develop a survey for that purpose.
Literature review
Dallmer (2004) suggests that adult learners should take their test cooperatively. The author cites that the testing atmosphere for some students is both hostile and unproductive. The author continues by stating that it can cause anxiety for some adult learners. Passing a test is an important factor of keeping the adult learner motivated. It is possible that test anxiety may re-occur if it played an important role in the past for adult learners.  Past test taking experiences may either hinder or help the adult learner. It is important to understand that aspect in the adult learner’s testing abilities. The author finishes by suggesting a cooperative test taking method associated with the quantity of recall. Kecker (2007) attempted to determine what teachers can do to develop responsible students with the knowledge, skills, and compassion to meet the challenges of their curriculum. The author also attempted to determine if teachers possessed the understanding of the content and the resources offered to efficiently incorporate environmental education into their instructional programs. Peterson and Mayer (2002) focused on specific aspects of schooling that influence the way student learns, such as classroom size, and curriculum, as well as the effectiveness of structural reforms. The relationship between cognitive test scores and economic success is of particular interest. The author determined that the higher the poverty levels in certain areas, the higher the chances of students (adult learners in this particular research) are in failing their assessments due to life stresses and challenges.
Adult learners are our target population and we will simply offer a survey during week one of our class or program. Before considering the testing abilities of our adult learners, we need to be aware of their particular learning styles. We need to cater to the perception, input, organization, processing and understanding dimensions. We also need to be aware of Blanchard situational leadership styles. The survey will consist of first asking what the students’ best learning styles are and display all possibilities with examples. The survey will then ask specific questions relating to how students have scored for previous assessments or exams. The survey will also ask questions about how students personally feel about testing and what their preferences are when they are testing. Studies have been conducted encouraging the effectiveness of the use of surveys in adult instruction, with findings that document the success of this type of instruction. A copy of the survey is attached in the Appendix section of the paper.
The instructor will need to constantly evaluate their courses or programs throughout the implementation of the survey’s findings with the use of weekly communications.  The initial results will reveal that the flow of the course will increase by 30 percent with the implementation of a differentiated instruction. The students’ progress will be closely monitored throughout the course or program by the instructor who will consider the students learning styles.  In addition, the instructor will also work with the students to make sure that all of the assignments are turned in on time.  The students will be asked to keep an agenda where they will write all of the assignments and any other important information such as tests, and projects. If the students have a grade of 70 percent or higher on their assignments and multiple in-class activities, the main goal of the survey has been successfully obtained.  Interviews will also be given throughout the course or program.  The interviews will be used to determine the adult learners’ interest in the class, their preferred methods of instruction, and their thoughts on the course.
We need to revamp our teaching strategies in adult education in order to meet our students’ needs and increase their test taking abilities. Past teaching strategies have simply included direct instruction. A new way of teaching, which includes differentiated modes of instruction and the use of a survey in the beginning stages of our classes, needs to be executed.  They need to have as goal the self-directed learner. Researches have been conducted promoting the effectiveness of differentiated instruction and the use of surveys. Some might argue that the adult population is learning considerably less than they should. They are in our classrooms unable to think critically, and probably account for a significant amount of the reason assessment scores does not show much improvement.  In the future, these groups of students might be potential underachievers. As adults, we are typically set in our ways and usually only focus on paying the bills. In the light of this dilemma, we have to ask ourselves this question, should we or should we not consider promoting a program or course that will help the adult learner set better goals for success by becoming better test takers?
Dallmer, D. (2004). Collaborative Test Taking with Adult Learners. Adult Education Across the Discipliness, 15, p. 4-7.
Kecker, K. (2007). Environmental Education: What Is Our Responsibility? Principal (Reston, Va.), 87(2), p. 64-65.
Easton, L. (2007). Engaging the Disengaged: How Schools Can Help Struggling Students Succeed.Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Peterson, P., & Mayer, S. (1999). Earning and Learning: How Schools Matter. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Name: _______________________________________
Test taking aptitude Survey 
My preferred learning style is (circle the one that relates to you):
Emmanuel Fleurantin
Directions:  Please answer the following statements by checking next to Agree or Disagree.
1.)  I enjoy taking tests frequently ___Agree ___Disagree
2.)  Taking a test makes me anxious ___Agree ___Disagree
3.)  My test taking capacity is below average ___Agree ___Disagree
4.)  I like multiple questions in a test ___Agree ___Disagree
5.)  I like true or false questions in a test ___Agree ___Disagree
6.)  I enjoy writing essays ___Agree ___Disagree
7.)  I feel discouraged when I get a bad grade ___Agree ___Disagree
8.)  I actively participate in class ___Agree ___Disagree
9.)  I want to improve my test taking skills ___Agree ___Disagree
Return to Professor Fleurantin by _____________

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Math can be challenging for some. Past experiences can play an important factor. We have to understand that once we start a challenge and the challenge is impeded by others (for example, by saying negative remarks), it is hard to get back up. The same statement can also apply to mathematics. How did your past experiences affect the way you learn math.

Mathematics can be a tough subject for an adult learner. I believe that as adults, our primary focus is to provide for ourselves and our families. Some of the means of attaining that goal is through a better pay; hence the need to constantly educate ourselves. We are driven by a need to learn and a need to succeed. Some of the challenges of learning mathematics are due to the effects of previously bad learning experiences. We have probably sat in a class in the past and the teacher paid very little attention to your educational needs. As children, some of us probably failed a math class because of our lack of effort and that failure became a stumbling block for our future ventures in mathematics. I have discovered that researchers looked at the way children learn in order to build the base on how adults actually get their critical thinking. There are a few similarities in the way that adults and children learn. With prior experiences, adult learners have or acquire a particular way of learning. However, adult learners have the intrinsic value and personal payoff because they have the immediate goal at hand. As adult learners, we want a pay increase or that promotion. Since the primary goal of education is to meet the demands of society and individual needs. And since the two dimensional frame of reference for adult learners are a habit of mind and a point of view, adult learning usually relies on our habits to learn. We can also safely state that adult learning is not in our formal classroom setting (teacher-centered). Instructors do not conform to the standards of the curricula but on the needs of the adult learners as well. Therefore, we need to brake from the chains of bad learning experiences that hold us back and meet this new learning challenge with a renewed attitude. As adults, we have the ability to reflect more on our learning. We can support this argument with Habermas and the three natural needs or reasons to gain knowledge. Let us then break this cycle and regain our love for mathematics.

Wang, Victor C. X. (2012). Handbook of Research on Technologies for improving the 21st Century Workforce: Tools for Lifelong Learning. Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global.