At Cooking Matters, we encourage you to create a learner-centered environment in the classroom. In a learner-centered environment, adults bring their life experiences to their learning experiences, and use those to determine what is important and relevant to learn. As a Cooking Matters instructor, your challenge is to build upon their experiences so that participants will be able to incorporate lessons from Cooking Matters into their own lives.
In this section, you will learn to create a learner-centered environment so that adult participants will use what they learn in everyday life.
What is a learner-centered environment?
A learner-centered environment is more than just providing information or teaching skills. It is an educational approach that focuses on the participants’ concerns and involves them in making decisions and solving problems.
A learner-centered environment:
- Develops respectful relationships
- Recognizes that learners are "experts" in their own lives
- Involves sharing and comparing experiences from members of the group
- Creates a safe environment for learners to consider changing behaviors
- Engages learners and is hands-on
To create a learner-centered environment, you should avoid lecture or demonstration-style activities. Instead, you should create opportunities for participation that are centered on the learner.
Watch the following video to learn how Cooking Matters uses learner-centered courses:
How do you create classes that are learner-centered?
Be mindful of the unique life experiences each participant brings to the classroom
Cooking Matters serves families at risk for hunger, who may be using resources like SNAP (food stamps) or WIC to help put food on the table. Appreciate any differences among participants or volunteers and encourage communication and learning from each other.
Make information relevant to participants’ life experiences
Involve participants by asking what they want to learn, by having them share their own experiences and ideas, by helping other learners, and by actively participating.
To see how you can make Cooking Matters courses relevant, watch the following video:
Present information in various ways to accommodate different types of learners
Most participants learn best when they are engaged in dialogue and have an opportunity to practice, which are good approaches to take when creating a learner-centered class. Be sure to engage participants in hands-on learning, rather than using lecture or demonstration.
Click HERE to learn and practice a technique for presenting information that helps make information relevant and accommodates different learning styles.