We know that the group dynamic in classrooms is critical to effective teaching. The dynamic can support a strong team and bolster student communication skills. Navigating the dynamic of the classroom can help in facing the real life challenges students face in the workplace. How much do you know about the impact of the group dynamic and group activities? Do you need a refresher on how best to structure group work to fit the needs of your course? The AMTA Master the Classroom course Nuts and Bolts: Basic Elements of Instructional Design address the challenge of designing effective group work for your class and more
Instructional Design and Adult Learners
Adult participants learn better when there is a strong instructor/participant relationship.
Educational psychologists Lev Vygotsky and Albert Bandura are both known for their research into how we learn better with others. An instructional designer needs to build activities that foster relationship-building among participants, as well as between the participants and instructor.
Vygotsky coined the phrase “zone of proximal development” in reference to the difference between what a participant can learn alone versus what can be learned with a skilled instructor. He would therefore argue that a strong relationship between the participants and the instructor is crucial in achieving learning outcomes. Therefore, you should consider integrating relationship-building activities, such as icebreakers, to create this foundation of trust, understanding and personal connections.
The zone of proximal development can be especially important to keep in mind when working with adult participants. If your participants detect that they are spending time in a classroom environment covering material that they could easily learn on their own, they will most certainly feel they are wasting their time. In situations that do not require instructor delivery, you can design a “performance without instruction” lesson, where participants perform tasks without direct instruction.1
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1. Sizer CS. Training Design Basics. Alexandria, VA: ASTD, 2003.