Diversity Scenarios

Consider how the resources this week have increased your understanding of influences that contribute to differences among adult learners. By anticipating the mix of experiences, attitudes, and abilities you will likely find among the adults with whom you work, you will be better prepared to provide each learner with the appropriate support to encourage maximum success.

Educating diverse groups of adult learners is no easy task. That applies to learners and to you as an adult educator as well. Be aware of your own experiences, attitudes, and expectations that might cloud your judgment about individual learners, and draw on knowledge and strategies to help you make accurate and informed responses to “diversity scenarios.”

Test yourself with the diversity scenarios that follow. Read each one and reflect on your understanding of the situation and the adult learners involved. Consider information from the Resources this week that would provide guidance for responding most appropriately to each.

Educator A: In a community college classroom, a student stands out to you, even though he seems to be doing his utmost to be inconspicuous. He never volunteers an answer and when you call on him, he mumbles his response. He speaks in a deeply accented voice and although you have some difficulty catching his every word, what you understand indicates that he is thinking critically about the course content. That impression is confirmed by his first written assignment. You wonder about his potential, what may be influencing his classroom demeanor, and how best to support him.

Educator B: You are leading a two-day orientation of new caseworkers in child protective services from across a wide region. As the associates enter the room, you see two women in wheelchairs among the group. You plan to cover requirements as well as “dos and donts” of home visits. You wonder about the womens physical limitations and if all of the material that you have planned is appropriate for them. You are also concerned about whether you, the women, and/or other members of the group will feel self-conscious when you discuss aspects of the job that involve/require mobility.

Educator C: You are reviewing evaluations from a corporate training session with Human Resources associates at a large company. Your focus was hiring, layoff, and firing practices, with special attention to questioning techniques and termination statements to avoid charges of age discrimination. You followed your preferred format: using a PowerPoint presentation as a visual, discussing key points, and providing copies of the presentation as a handout. Many evaluations are positive and mention the value of the PowerPoint as a reference. However, there are a number of complaints along the lines of “I was expecting more than a lecture. It would help to try out techniques or observe situations to critique.” You wonder how much importance to give those criticisms, what would be involved in accommodating those suggestions, and whether doing so might raise other issues or challenges to consider.

Choose one scenario to respond to in your Discussion post. Select the scenario that is most relevant to you and your work as an adult educator. Take the role of Educator A, B, or C, and then