Adult Education: What Makes Teaching Effective?

This brief provides an overview of research on effective teaching that can be applied in multiple settings by a broad range of teachers. 

Anne Mishkind
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
California Department of Education
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

This brief provides an overview of the research on effective teaching that can be applied in multiple settings by a broad range of teachers across adult education programs who share a commitment to reigniting and nurturing students’ lifelong love of learning and preparing them for postsecondary and career success. Effective instruction:

  • Is relevant, meaningful, and reflects students' backgrounds;
  • Uses student data to understand learners' needs, set learning goals, make instructional decisions, and assess progress and adapt instruction based on that feedback; 
  • Uses evidence-based instructional practices; 
  • Is learner-centered; 
  • Is taught by instructors that are knowledgeable in the content and how to contextualize it; 
  • Uses standards to shape curriculum and ground lessons in clear, consistent, and rigorous expectations; and 
  • Builds foundational and higher-order thinking skills.

Further, this report identifies means of professional learning and support including planned professional learning and the use of teacher competencies.

What the experts say

This research brief on teacher effectiveness will be of interest to administrators and adult education teachers. Because the piece is primarily theoretical, it does not provide many examples of what teacher effectiveness actually looks like in practice.

The resource can help adult education instructors develop a deep understanding of how effective teaching impacts student learning. The resource provides descriptive examples of theories used by Paulo Freire and Malcolm Knowles that provide an in-depth knowledge of student-centered learning and the impact of using this theory. The CALPRO evidence-based instruction insights provide in-depth research that is grounded in empirical data that is based on a demonstrated positive impact on student learning.

This resource serves two levels of academic learning, adult education and higher education and touches on every aspect of how to strengthen student learning, targeted towards future goals. 

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