Characteristics of Adolescent and Adult Learners (Academic, Social, Emotional and Cognitive)
Characteristics of Adolescent Learner
The young adolescent is going through a period of significant physical, emotional, intellectual, moral and social changes. Since the nature of these changes is at times intense and varied, they need to be recognized and examined by those who direct their learning.
Academic characteristics of learners include the education type, education level and knowledge. In young adolescents, intellectual development is not as visible as physical development, but it is just as intense. During early adolescence, youth exhibit a wide range of individual intellectual development, including meta-cognition and independent thought. They tend to be curious and display wide-ranging interests . Typically, young adolescents are eager to learn about topics they find interesting and useful—ones that are personally relevant . They also favor active over passive learning experiences and prefer interactions with peers during educational activities. All students have some personal knowledge to relate to what is being taught. It is creative challenge of a teacher to continually discover, or pre-assess, for meaningful connections between pivotal subject matter concepts, related topics, and the experiences students bring to the classroom. These connections create springboards for learning. Teacher should affirm student’s progression learning academic concepts, successes in reaching certain goals, and improvement in behaviors that benefit them as learners.
Adolescent social development is often described as the process of establishing a sense of identity and establishing a role and purpose. It is an outward sense of oneself. Body image is a key factor in developing a sense of self and identity, especially for girls, and the family and increasingly peers play an important role assisting and supporting the adolescent to achieve adult roles. Risk-taking is a natural part of the adolescent journey. Social development and emotional development are closely intertwined as young people search for a sense of self and personal identity. They desire to make personal choices. They seek social acceptance and peer relationships in order to conform to group norms. They tend to diminish family allegiances and strengthens peer allegiances but still strongly dependent upon parental values. The actions of adolescents are often based on myths and misinformation. In addition, the influence of the media and the culture affect their perception of men, women and relationships. Students should be taught to deal with social pressures resulting from competitions. Healthy attitudes towards competition should be encouraged. Students should be encouraged to strive for self-improvement.
The way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others, their inward thoughts, is key to their emotional development. Adolescents shifts moods rapidly and can become rebellious toward adults. They are sensitive to criticism and easily get offended. Developing and demonstrating individual emotional assets such as resilience, self esteem and coping skills is heightened during adolescence because of the rapid changes being experienced. Schools are important sites for social and emotional learning and have developed policies and programs around student wellness, often with a focus on a strengths-based approach.
Cognition is the process involving thought, rationale and perception. The physical changes of the brain that occur during adolescence follow typical patterns of cognitive development. They are characterized by the development of higher-level cognitive functioning that aligns with the changes in brain structure and function, particularly in the prefrontal cortex region. Adolescence is a sensitive brain period that is a time when brain plasticity is heightened. During this time, there is an opportunity for learning and cognitive growth as the brain adapts in structure and function in response to experiences. Teachers need to provide an assortment of educational approaches and materials that are appropriate for their student’s wide-ranging cognitive abilities. For example, the concrete thinkers require more structured learning experiences, while the abstract thinkers need more challenging activities. In addition, young adolescents need teachers who understand and know how they think Teachers need to plan curricula around real life concepts and supply authentic educative activities (e.g., experimentation, analysis and synthesis of data) that are meaningful for young adolescents. Because young adolescent’s interests are evolving, they require opportunities for exploration throughout their educational program