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Candy modelling and adult education: A sweet treat for learners


The Adult Learning Hub is excited to have Dr. Christine Challen as our guest contributor this week. She is a dynamic researcher and biomedical/health science educator, with over 23 years' experience in various setting such as further and higher education, teaching large and small groups of adult learners. In her role, she is interested in the use of art, literature and film in professional practice, particularly highlighting how art enhance cognitive skills. Most recently, she has contributed to the Durham University Creative Research Committee, as well as successfully publishing educational blogs on a variety of topics including adult education in TES and am currently working on a series of study-guides on health/biomedical topics for foundation level for Lawler Publishings. In her article for The Hub, she explains how she encourages adult learners to use candy to model DNA replication. 

One of the huge privileges of teaching at Further Education for me was being part of the Access to HE course for adults. At the time it had many different pathways including nursing and midwifery as well as what became the science route. While FE is a very challenging environment the delivery and teaching of adult students still remains for me very rewarding both academically and holistically.

The key to successful teaching of adult is to accept and bare in mind that they are different from young school pupils. Many come with both learning, subject and emotional barriers; including lack of confidence and knowledge of what courses are available to them and workload involved. Some of these adults may have part time jobs or a family, and are worried about how they will juggle studying around them.

My focus therefore when teaching adults is to build and enhance breaking of the barriers but also more importantly with Access to HE is ensuring that students are prepared for HE environment including critical thinking skills knowledge application and giving them a voice within the classroom involving them and their peers in the learning process. One of the ways I have done this is by using candy modelling and film.

A typical scheme of learning for this session is shown below:

  • To get students to use candy to model DNA replication, transcription and translation
  • Get students to create a short video on DNA replication/transcription and translation using some basic guidance from Vimady
  • Creation of a student/tutor driven learning resource Facebook site which includes this video and others as well as reflections to encourage autonomy in learning and higher order/critical thinking skills

My personal reflections and improvements:

As student(s) are making videos get the group to write short tutorial on how this was done so that others can learn from this.

Always ensure that students save the images or back up the files for future editing or in case they want to add to it.

Always check for spelling errors you will note in the video that it should be helicase not helocase, this is also important for embedding literacy/terminology skills in biology.

This was an excellent session the students were fully engaged. It also enabled the development of a specific Access to HE learning which allowed and supported peer learning reflections and superb student tutor interaction. Further this is a great way to combine face to face learning with online learning and example the positive outlook of facebook to enhance learning for adult students as well as build respectful social and diverse relationships. 

Take a look at the end result of what they came up with:

Do you have a voice in the world of adult learning, like Dr. Challen? We'd love to hear from you and feature your insights in an article. Email us here to get in touch!

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