The Heart of Appreciative Andragogy: An Innovative Online Teaching Strategy

Online or distance learning has seen continued growth, attracting millions of students as both traditional and online colleges and universities expand their reach by offering virtual courses and degrees. It has made education accessible to students who otherwise might not have access to other options. Educators have had to adapt to this environment and learn how to communicate effectively through written words. The challenge is to help students feel connected to their class and teacher. Traditional teaching methods simply have to be adapted because the trainers are not present and they are unable to benefit from visual cues and physical interactions. Some faculty successfully develop a virtual presence, others find the online platform too difficult to navigate or feel too distant from their students.

As an educator with extensive experience in online instruction and faculty development, I am aware of the challenge educators face when attempting to bridge the virtual distance. One of the inherent problems is that teachers develop a perception of students based on what they see or what they read. If the students post an introduction at the beginning of the lesson, this provides initial background information. But over time, teachers see what is posted on the discussion boards and submitted in writing assignments, and those words represent the students and create a lens through which they perceive them.

For example, if an instructor sees repeated typographical errors in a student’s papers or papers, they may view that student from a negative perspective. This can lead to a deficit-oriented approach in the interaction with the student. The focus of their interactions and feedback will be on correcting these mistakes and tends to overshadow positive performance. A student experiencing what they perceive to be sustained negative interactions may become disengaged from the classroom. While the teacher’s intent is to guide and teach the student, this approach has the potential to alienate the student and create resistance on their part. Having seen the impact of these issues first hand, I have decided that a new teaching strategy is needed.

What I found in my research was an organizational development technique known as Appreciative Inquiry, and I was immediately struck by its ability to help managers elicit peak performance from their employees. It is a strengths-based approach that seeks to validate and build on what the employee does best. There have been limited adaptations of appreciative inquiry for educational purposes, so I decided to find a way to implement it as an online teaching strategy. My doctoral studies focused on adult learning, which is based on a term called andragogy, which distinguishes teaching adults from children. The phrase appreciative andragogy was then born as a means of connecting the two concepts.

A research study was conducted to test the potential for appreciative andragogy in online instruction. I recruited online teachers to take part in the study and they tested this strategy in their online courses. This brought appreciative requests from an organizational environment to the online classroom. The results of this study have now been published for other educators to adapt and use in their online courses. Of course, the implementation of an appreciative andragogy is not without its challenges. From an educator’s perspective, they need to take the time to interact with the students and try to follow the process. It can also be difficult to show appreciation for a student who is not open to interactive communication or who is not showing appreciation themselves.

But appreciative andragogy helps educators see their students in a broader perspective and learn more about their strengths so they can build on them. That’s not to say that developmental issues shouldn’t be addressed, but it can be done from a positive perspective and will help create a collaborative spirit as teachers and students work together to improve their performance. The study also found that appreciative andragogy had a positive impact on student motivation and engagement in the classroom. The study concluded that appreciative andragogy had the ability to distance from distance learning. Any educator teaching any subject will find this strategy useful.

Thanks to Dr. Bruce A. Johnson | #Heart #Appreciative #Andragogy #Innovative #Online #Teaching #Strategy

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