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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3 thoughts on “Change Strategy and Learner Readiness

  1. Hi Mary, I like this post a lot, because I had very similar experience. When I taught UNIV 111, I also worked with freshmen, and had same issues with a few students, as you may imagine. I agree that learner’s readiness plays an vital role in deciding the effectiveness of learning. Without the internal motivation, external stimulation is very likely to be in vain.
    Also, your post reminds me of what I learned about consultation. There is an belief that the appearing problems presented by clients are usually symptoms instead of real problems. I am just thinking, when talking with students about their problematic behaviors, how we can ask them the right questions to discover the real problems. Hope the classes in this program could inspire some answers to my question.
    You are right that HRD relates closed to our career as educators in universities 🙂

  2. Hi Mary! I love where you are going here especially knowing that you are considering the HRD track for the Masters in Adult Ed. program. The classes are so well laid out and truly make you take a step back, as you are doing now, to consider what else can go into an individual’s learning. Are they ready? Are they willing? Are they passionate? What’s driving them? Where are they in their life now? What experiences have they had before that could be hindering them in their current learning goals? Humans are so complex and that defintely impacts one’s learning abilities as well, often more than we truly realize. Jump in girl feet first, I sincerly think you are ready for what this program has got to offer you:)

  3. Mary, this is a great point! If a learner isn’t ready, doesn’t believe in they need developed, or aren’t apply to apply it, training won’t be successful. I imagine this is even more difficult when students face these challenges. When we face this in HRD, I believe it takes an honest conversation with the individual to discover why these factors exist. Maybe in your situation, it’s about setting the right environment for students to be honest so you can focus on the real issue. If it’s not the right major, can you suggest other courses that may apply to multiple majors within the first couple of years? For students, it may be more about the discovery to find their strengths when beginning college. If their able to find their true passion, it’s possible they may become more motivated? I’m sure you’ve thought about this. It’s similar to HRD though because we must take into consideration what really engages each individual so they’ll be more motivated and successful within their role.

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