- Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning - https://www.facultyfocus.com -

Tips for Teaching Adult Students

With the number of non-traditional students growing, many educators have discovered that adult learners are fundamentally different than their younger counterparts in many ways. Yet, most instructors have been left to their own devices to figure out how best to reach these students who come to class with an entirely different set of challenges, demands and expectations, and generally at a much different level of maturity.

How can instructors better accommodate and encourage adult student success in a classroom setting? Here are a number of ways to create a better environment for adult learners, no matter what the subject material.

Finally, beyond specific tactics, both Lisack and Leppert emphasize personal growth when working with adult students. While younger students are encouraged to do well on standardized tests and accustomed to being compared to their peers in this way, adult learners are challenging themselves. Consider making personal growth in ability and skills part of the actual grade. Leppert said, “I compare the first speech to the last one given when I grade to determine how they are personally improving. It helps build confidence and give tangible areas for improvement. School is hard enough…we should point out the positives.”


Brooks Doherty is the dean of faculty at Rasmussen College in Minnesota, where he oversees students seeking degrees in business, education, health care, and technology. Brooks has worked in higher education for a number of years as an academic dean and general education coordinator.