Measurable goals allow students to know when they have achieved their goals.
Achievable goals are those within a student's reach.
Reasonable goals achieve a balance between pushing students to their limits and not frustrating them.
Time-limited goals create due dates that push students to complete a goal. A timeline should include periodic checks on progress (NRS Tips: Learner Goals and NRS Goals -- Making the Connection, n.d.).
Establishing adult learner goals defines the areas in which instruction and learning will be focused in addition to providing a benchmark by which programs and students report progress. To serve this dual purpose, it is essential to differentiate between short- and long-term milestones.
It is necessary to update the student's goal selection if their situation changes.
It may be suitable to restrict the choice of certain goals when their selection is inappropriate.
Programs must provide guidance so that adult learners select reporting goals that are reasonable. Programs are encouraged to use common sense when helping students choose goals (Requirements for Student Intake and Description of OAE Adult Learner Assessment Policies and Procedures, 2008).
Physical and cognitive changes that take place as people age are important to note because they can have an affect on adult learning and on the goals that they set:
Older students have slower reaction times than younger learners. They need more time to learn new things as they age, however, when adults can control the pace of learning, they can often effectively compensate for their lack of speed and learn new things successfully.
Vision usually declines from the age of 18 to 40. After 40 there is a sharp decline for the next 15 years, but after age 55 the decline in vision occurs at a slower rate.
Roughly at age 70 a persons hearing begins to decline sharply and a person begins experiencing problems with pitch, volume, and rate of response. Loss of hearing can be compensated for through the use of hearing aids, but often older students may be embarrassed by their hearing loss and feel less confident. This decline in confidence can become a greater hindrance to learning than the physical disability.
Few alterations have been found in both sensory and short-term memory as a person ages, but long-term memory declines. Older adults have a harder time acquiring and retrieving information and they experience difficulties in organizing new material and in processing it. Older adults are not as able as younger learners in tests of recall, but the differences between older and younger learners in tests of recognition are small or absent.
When contextual learning methods are used, fewer declines have been found in the memory process as a person ages.
The most problems with memory for older learners occur with meaningless learning, complex learning, and the learning of new things that require reassessment of old learning (Adult Learning, n.d.).
Adult learners bring a special set of circumstances to the table when they decided to continue their education. Their goals are very different from those of younger learners because of the fact that they have so much life experience to rely upon. The benchmarks that they set need to be not only attainable but also need to be very measurable so that the learner can feel as if they are making the progress that they want to.
Adult Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2010, from Web site: http://www.fsu.edu/~adult-
Dynan, Linda, Cate, Tom and Rhee, Kenneth. (2008). The Impact of Learning Structure on Students' Readiness for Self-Directed Learning. Journal of Education for Business. 84(2),
Kato, Fumie. (2009). Student preferences: Goal-setting and self-assessment activities in a tertiary education environment. Language Teaching Research. 13(2), p177-199.
Kelly, Michelle H. (2006). Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: Training Techniques for the Adult
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NRS Tips: Learner Goals and NRS Goals -- Making the Connection. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24,
2010, from Web site: http://www.nrsweb.org/docs/tips/NRSGoalsSetting.pdf
Requirements for Student Intake and Description of OAE Adult Learner Assessment Policies and Procedures. (2008). Retrieved March 24, 2010, from Web site: