Change Strategy and Learner Readiness

After class a few weeks ago, I wrote down the term andragogy. I had never heard of it before. I wanted to know more about Malcolm Knowles’ theory on adult learning since I work with young adults.  I am currently teaching a course that is designed to help students on academic warning gain academic success skills.  When planning the curriculum, I came up with journal assignments and assessment tools that reflect andragogy principles: experiential learning, problem-solving, goal setting, providing immediate value to their current academic situation ,etc (Swanson, p. 205). Assignments include mainly journal entries on motivation, what they want to get out of college, etc. I try to peel back a layer before diving into how to fix study skills, note taking, time management, etc. Most often the reason for bad grades has to do with a lack of motivation. The lack of motivation is usually due to other things going on in a person’s life.  I find young adults are excellent at describing in detail the obstacles (i.e. lack of focus, not sure what to major in, insufficient study habits, family/money problems, etc.) but gloss over the change strategy.  My students think it’s as easy as just making more time to go to the library (which is a start in the right direction, but not targeting the real problems).  I usually get the “I just needed to devote more time to studying” or “I just need to go to the library more.” In our appointment the following week, I then hear that they got another bad grade and didn’t follow through on their identified strategies.  My point is that when I implement andragogy principles by discussing new strategies in our meetings and connecting their current courses to their long term goal –  nothing happens. I’m at a point where I can’t motivate or help a learner who isn’t ready to learn and make a change. They have all the tools, the self awareness, the plan, but don’t put that into action. I now see the part of the andragogy model where it talks about learner readiness and believe some students are simply not ready to learn. 

My next thought relates this same principle to HRD professionals. How does the HRD professional assess or measure its effectiveness when there is no behavioral or institutional change? If we are to assume from a Theory Y perspective that workers want to grow and learn and are provided the tools from HRD professionals and upper management, what happens when no change takes place? How would the HRD professional handle an employee who knows they are not the right fit, but decides to stay within the organization for whatever reason? My last entry stated that “If in the end, HRD helps an employee realize they aren’t the right fit” its still a success marker for the HRD professional. But I’m wondering how that gets measured and assessed within an organization? Do they move on to the next employee who’s motivated to change and let management deal with the stagnant employee? Should I simply focus on other the students who actually want to make a change? Maybe this will make more sense when we start talking about perspectives on learning later on in the semester. I just find what I’m doing in my current course, so relevant to this learner readiness assumption, I had to get my thoughts out. I’m open to hearing how you might have had to deal with a similar situation in your workplace?

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