Application of Adult Learning Theories to Establish an Effective Teaching Method in Some Colleges of Addis Ababa University: The Case of Small Group Teaching Methods

Birara Gebru


This paper is written with the objective to assess the current teaching methods in the colleges of Addis Ababa University (AAU) and suggest some changes suitable for adult learners. The purpose is to review literatures on the application of some of the adult learning theories to establish an effective teaching method in the colleges of AAU.  A literature search was made from Internet, peer-reviewed Journals, Books and Handouts about Small Group Teaching Method (SGTM). The information obtained from the above mentioned sources were synthesized as it is applied to teaching specific fields in the school of public health and medical sciences, and summarized. The group session generates their own issues most easily; enable participants to deal with the present rapid changes in all branches of health sciences and replacing outmoded knowledge and assimilating new inspiring teaching methods. About eight to 12 is an optimal number, allowing all the participants to be regularly active. One of the crucial steps in achieving success in small group session is to have a skilled group leader as well as learners. The strength of the method is that participants appreciate effective group meetings and they value it because it encourages social interaction among students and helps them to practice their communication skills.  As a means of testing theories discussed in the reviewed literature, problems of adult learners were observed during the first three sessions of Higher Diploma Program (HDP) for AAU instructors where passivity, boredom, and inactiveness surfaced out. ‘Small Group Teaching Method” (SGTM) was then repeatedly used in the HDP of AAU.  Reflections of adult learners on the strength and limitations of the methods were collected and documented. The reflections gathered from HDP participants, who were teaching staff of public health and medical sciences, witnessed the advantages pointed out in the literature as: “…The group interaction about our teaching profession gave the enforced HDP enjoyable life that we have been looking forward to the weekly HDP session”.  The potential weaknesses of small group discussion methods could be difficulties in creating an interactive group when the group leader is inexperienced; secondly, the methods require careful planning, and more resources such as rooms and adequate learning material. In conclusion, a small group teaching approach is instrumental if tailored and tuned to the desired goals when learners are adequately coached and connected to the subject matter. Nonetheless, it would be partial and defective if the sessions are not accompanied by reflection, and deliberation. Because of the enormous benefits obtained from the method, all Colleges of AAU need to consider such an innovative teaching approach for building the competence of adult learners.



Concepts: Small Group Teaching Method, Higher Diploma Program, Reflection

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