Best Practices for ABE Presentations

This guide is designed to help presenters design and deliver adult education presentations.

Marn Frank
Heather Indelicato
Astrid Liden,
Rob Podlasek
Alyssa Schmidtke
Rebecca Strom
Heather Turngren
Amy Vickers
Patsy Vinogradov,
Susan Wetenkamp-Brandt
Burgen Young
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
ATLAS/Hamline University
Minneapolis Public Schools Adult Education
PANDA Minnesota ABE Disability Specialists
Minnesota Department of Education
Minnesota Literacy Council
Minnesota Department of Corrections
Mankato Area Adult Basic Education
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

This workbook was created by a subgroup of the Minnesota ABE Statewide Professional Development (PD) Committee. It guides users through the process of designing presentations about adult basic education. Presentation objectives identify what the audience should take away from the presentation. A characteristic of strong objectives is that they limit the amount of information provided to give participants an opportunity for deeper understanding of the content.

When planning the presentation, presenters should consider Knowles Assumptions of Adult Learning (Knowles et al. 2005: 64–68):

  1. Adults need to know why they need to learn something before setting out to learn it.
  2. Adults need to be treated as being capable of self-direction.
  3. Adults bring a greater volume and different quality of experience than do youths.
  4. Adults become ready to learn those things they need to know and be able to do to cope with their real-life situations.
  5. Adults are life-centered, task-centered, and problem-centered in their orientation to learning.
  6. Adults are responsive to some external motivators, but the most potent motivators are internal pressures.

The workbook includes tips on planning and delivering the presentation including potential issues related to materials, facilities, and equipment. A sample agenda provides a tool that presenters can use to identify activities and time estimates. The concluding section provides suggestions for reflecting on what went well and what needs improvement.

What the experts say

This workbook is a resource for designing and delivering professional development sessions for adult education. It can be used for planning training of trainers and as a handout in a trainer workshop. It can be a helpful resource for presenters with limited experience, as well as reinforce good habits for veteran presenters. Evaluators may find it useful for designing a training evaluation. It can also be a great resource for presenters who have been accepted to present at a conference or workshop because it incorporates the elements of an effective presentation.

In addition to the practical uses of the workbook, the theory behind adult education and self-directed learning is woven into the explanations and reflected in the activities, making it an added resource for teaching adult education theory. 

Practitioners in any role who want to formally share their work with others or begin working in professional development can benefit from this resource. It is authored by adult education practitioners of various roles: classroom instructors, administration officials, and professional developers, and represent a broad coalition of the workforce including literacy, ABE, corrections, and disabilities. They have distilled their best practices for this resource — through action research.

Malcolm Knowles Assumptions of Adult Learning (Knowles et al. 2005: 64–68), form the guide’s framework and are tied to concrete examples in delivering training for adult educators. Examples are given throughout the guide to illustrate concepts directly related to the field of adult education. Ideas and tips are provided for before, during, and after training. Planning questions are listed at the end of each section to assist trainers in evaluating how well the training(s) they have planned aligns with the concepts in the handbook.

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