Typically, the adult learners in your course want to succeed, and they are quite driven towards achieving success. However, most are also balancing many responsibilities, activities, and commitments at home, work, and elsewhere.

As a result, they may have an ultimate goal in mind (a certificate or diploma that leads to a job)… but, they may benefit from additional encouragement and support, as well as a “refresher” on the specific traits, positive habits, and attitudes that enable them to earn academic success.

In the Instructor’s Manual for her text, The Adult Learner’s Companion: A Guide for the Adult College Student, Second Edition, Deborah Davis provides a set of ten questions that encourage adult learners to think through the things they need to do in order to achieve academic and personal success. The questions will help them consider their goals, as well as their motivational strategies, time-management tactics, and stress-management skills. These questions are ideal for an in-class discussion, during which students can exchange ideas and learn from one another. You might also invite them to reflect on their answers in a personal journal or in-class writing exercise.

Ten questions that can guide adult learners through the process of establishing goals and success strategies

1. “How do you motivate yourself to complete a goal?”

2. “What are the current realities (responsibilities and obligations) in your life?”

3. “How do you relax and take time for yourself?”

4. “What are your immediate-, short-, and long-range intentions?”

5. “What organizational system do you generally use to accomplish your goals?”

6. “How do you feel about practicing self-discipline?”

7. “How can consistency help you to achieve your long-range goal?”

8. “How has procrastination affected your life?”

9. “How can keeping an up-to-date calendar benefit you while you’re in school?”

10. “What challenges do you anticipate in learning to manage work, school, and family, and how will you meet these challenges?” (Davis, 10-11)


What are your success strategies for adult learners? Have they shared any success tips with you? We invite you to discuss them in the comments section below!

Reference: Davis, Deborah. 2012. Instructor’s Manual for The Adult Learner’s Companion: A Guide for the Adult College Student, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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