Adult Education Assignment # 3

By: Saima Aziz, Scott Barry, Mehmet Basti, Yaa Otchere, Sam Whittaker


The purpose of this assignment is to show how adult education uses a logical progressive philosophy including adult experiences, relations, humanistic, and fundamental methods that form ways of emerging and empowering adult learning in and outside of the classroom situation. Progressive philosophy is an educational effort which focuses on experiential and problem-solving approach to adult learning. American educator John Dewey (1859 – 1952) was a key figure in progressivism. He said that students learn through their own experiences with guided activities to explore, discover, construct, and create. Progressivism revolves around the students' needs, including teaching students to be good citizens as well as good learners.

Case Study

As student bodies become less traditional and more diverse (Mullen, 2014, p. 58), it becomes more important for instructors to practice progressivist values. The following case scenario demonstrates why this is so important:

An instructor is teaching a class of college students in a first semester communications course. About half the class is international students, many of whom are working professionals looking to start a new career in Canada. The rest of the class largely consists of Canadian citizens fresh out of high school. The next several weeks of class will be devoted to teaching students how to write a resume and cover letter.

When teaching these subjects, the instructor must structure the lesson so that the students can write resumes and cover letters that demonstrate their skills and experience. However, due to the diversity of the students, it is impossible for the instructor to give any one piece of advice that would be applicable to all students. Whereas many of the younger students may be entering into the work force for the first time, many adult learners come to college campuses for career changes (Mullen, 2014, p. 58). While the students with experience would benefit from lectures detailing how to select only the most relevant experience for one’s resume, this would be largely irrelevant information for a student who has not yet entered the workforce. These students will also have wildly varying knowledge bases regarding how to approach the Canadian job market, how to acquire references, and other features of the job search process. The instructor will need to use the progressivist teaching philosophy to allow the students to choose their own paths towards learning about how to find a career.


Challenge #1

One challenge that could arise from this scenario is the difficulty with which the instructor must attend to the needs of students with varying work histories. The older, working students may be looking to begin careers that utilize their past experiences, and they would not benefit from the kind of advice that would benefit the younger students: how to write a resume without much work experience. Conversely, the students without much work experience would not benefit from being taught how to write a resume that features a lot of work history. The adult learners may also be worried that the class will primarily focus on the needs of the less experienced students due a belief that an introductory class will primarily focus on students without much educational or work experience. This is symptomatic of a common issue that adult learners face: fear or lack of confidence due to their entering into a new career or learning environment (Terry, 2001, p. 67). The instructor will need to address these emotions in order to effectively teach these students.

Challenge #2

A second challenge that could arise from this scenario is the international students not being enough proficient to write an attractive and concise resume for the Canadian job market. Many studies have tried to clarify the source of stressors for international students. They have found that many emotional factors such as loneliness, inadequacy, and alienation, as well as physical factors and financial problems, create stress for international students (Khawaja and Stallman, 2011). One study conducted by Trice (2003) reveals that English language proficiency for international students is one of these major stressors. Therefore, the international students are likely to face issues along the axes of both resume writing skill and language fluency.

Challenge #3

The thought of traveling half around the world doesn’t have to be scary or stressful. If one is doing this, he or she is doing it for the experience of a lifetime and to get him/herself out of his/her comfort zones. Understanding the pressures, differences, and similarities of leaving ones homeland and staying local is a key component to successful. Without understanding and allowing them to adapt to their “new world” it will be more difficult for them to succeed.

Challenge #4

Newcomers usually arrive in major cities of Canada like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. These cities already have an over abundance of talented and experienced people for jobs, and as a result, new immigrants find it very hard to get jobs ins their professions (Rosengarten, n.d.).

Challenge #5

Many newcomers to Canada come from diverse cultures, and from countries with warm weathers. They bring with them their own cultures and cultural biases, and initially some of them see it a challenge to set in Canada. They feel cultural and weather shock.


Solution #1

One way to address students’ varying amount of work history would be to allow students to role-play in groups to help discover how best to write a resume for each of their career paths. The role-play could consist of some students taking the role of job applicants and other students taking the role of hiring managers. The “job applicant” students would tell the “hiring manager” student the job to which they wish to apply. The hiring managers could then give feedback to the prospective employees based on whether or not they feel their resume makes them appealing for the job.

This exercise addresses the challenge listed above because it allows each student to write a resume that is tailored to his or her own unique work history, and to get feedback on whether or not that resume is appropriate for that job. The instructor, acting as a facilitator, could then provide commentary on the quality of that feedback, and on the resumes themselves. From a progressivist perspective, this exercise is extremely useful because it focuses on experiential learning, something that progressivists prioritize (Educational Philosophies, n.d.). The role-play lets the students experience resumes as a real hiring manager does: with a critical eye. It therefore helps students better what the hallmarks of a high-quality resume are.

Solution #2

One approach to overcome students’ issues with resume writing proficiency would be to help students to correct grammar and spelling mistakes. In this approach, the instructor needs to spend time on language related issues instead of covering substantive course content. A second approach to solving this issue could be pairing international and local Canadian students in peer workshops. This approach has some advantages to creating a positive classroom environment, but also has some drawbacks from international students’ perspectives, such as emotional issues. As described above, adult students often lack confidence in a new learning environment (Terry, 2001, p. 67); therefore, they may be reticent to open their language skills to criticism by native English speakers. The last method to addresses students’ proficiency issues could be asking support from college management to create writing services or resume support services. In this approach, students should prepare resumes and review them with these support services, paying special attention to language-based issues. This would allow students to develop their learning outside of the classroom, empowering them to have more control over the direction of their learning by selecting which college-supported resources to use. The progressivist perspective places massive importance on a learner-centred approach and seeks to provide learning experiences that enable learners to learn by their own efforts (Clark, 1987). This approach is useful because it focuses on a creative problem-solving activity, which is important aspects of progressive theory (Clark, 1987).

Solution #3

Giving tips on how to succeed in Canada would be a great solution on how to adapt (10 Tips for International Students, n.d.). Once the student has adapted it would be easier for them to fully understand how and what to put in their resume /cover letter (Six Practical Tips, n.d.). As their ability to adapt and learn grows so will their resume.

Solution #4

Some newcomers to Canada who find it difficult to get jobs in big cities move to less populated areas like the prairies and the North to find jobs. After gaining a few years experience, some of them find jobs back in big cities, because they now have Canadian work experience and Canadian references. Some of them upgrade their qualifications and fulfil licencing requirements for professions like teaching, nursing, medicine, accountancy, engineering, red seal, god seal, etc. Some upgrade their language skills and then find jobs. Some start jobs from lower levels in their professions, and then they gradually move upwards. Many jobs in Canada are filled through references. Newcomers, when they learn this, they start building networks to find jobs, and many become successful in finding jobs by that way too.

Solution #5

They gradually connect with people with similar cultural backgrounds, and they also adjust and assimilate with people from other cultures, and regions of world by interacting and communicating with them. With the passage of time, they become used to with winters of Canada.


This paper has explored some of the challenges international adult students faces in Canada from progressive philosophy perspective. From the learning theories we know that adult learners come with their own set of experiences and knowledge which are creates good opportunities for learning endeavour, but on the other hand adult learners have many other challenges such as focus problem because of many factors. Progressivism revolves around the students' needs, including teaching students to be good citizens as well as good learners. By this group project we have designed a case study to discuss potential challenges and solution approaches from progressive perspective.


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Khawaja, N. G., & Stallman, H. M. (2011). Understanding the coping strategies of international students: A qualitative approach. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools21(2), 203-224.

Mullen, P. E. (2014, July 8). Concepts for Teaching Today's Adult Learners. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 20(1), 58-62. doi:

Rosengarten, J. The challenges faced by newcomers to Canada who are looking for employment. Careers and Education. Retrieved from

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Terry, M. (2001, November). Philosophies of Adult Education Movements in 20th Century Canada: Implications for Current Literacy Educators. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 15(2), 61-78.

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Trice, A. (2003). Faculty perceptions of graduate international students: The benefits and challenges. Journal of Studies in International Education, 7, 379–403.