Classroom Management Techniques in Adult Classroms

Written by christina gandolfo
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Classroom Management Techniques in Adult Classroms
Teaching adults can carry some unique challenges for a teacher. (books and apple. image by mashe from

Classroom management techniques for adult classrooms may include many of the same strategies as classroom techniques for younger students. However, there are some differences that make it necessary for a teacher to rethink classroom management when teaching adults.


Set expectations so adult students know how you want them to behave in class. Provide them with a list of what they should and should not do. Your list might include barring cell phones, coming to class on time and listening respectfully. Remember that adult learners are also capable of understanding why each item is on the list, so explain to them that cell phones can cause disruptions that make it difficult to focus and learn or that walking into class late causes the class to shift focus.

Classroom Management Techniques in Adult Classroms
Let adult students know what you expect of them. (students image by Ivanna Buldakova from


Set goals for the class. Because adults tend to be more goal-directed than younger students, they like to know exactly what they will achieve by performing according to class rules and expectations. Therefore, teachers should provide adult students with a syllabus that clearly lays out the class goals. A good syllabus will also include assignments, papers and examinations, and due dates for those things. Adults tend to have more complications and commitments, so give them due dates that allow them to plan so they can focus on achieving the class goals when you want them to.

Young Adult Learners

Do not tolerate lax classroom behaviour. Because younger adults sometimes believe they already know the class content, they may not take class seriously. A 1984 survey of young adults, published in "New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education," found that many adults taking high school equivalency classes were more interested in getting a diploma than in learning the material, and therefore did only the minimum necessary. A student performing at a minimum standard may skip class, arrive tardy or doze in class. Students must be kindly but firmly informed these behaviours are unacceptable. Unless this type of behaviour is stopped immediately by the teacher, other students may believe they can also get away with objectionable classroom behaviour.

Classroom Management Techniques in Adult Classroms
Remind young adult learners of your classroom rules. (students image by Edward White from

Changing Teacher Role

Facilitate class learning and discussion, but don't force it. Adult students bring a lot of experience and capability to the classroom, which means they want to be helped to learn, but an authoritative teaching style may not work on them. Consider yourself a helper rather than a director.

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