Exploring adult education can open a variety of career options for teachers. The online Graduate Certificate – College Teaching program from Eastern Washington University (EWU) can help educators acquire the unique skills needed to instruct adults effectively. These skills can be instrumental in transitioning to instructional roles in an array of adult education settings.
Differences Between Graduate Certificates and Graduate Degrees
While graduate certificate programs are not graduate degrees (master’s or doctorate), as Business Insider explains, graduate certificates can “help you stand out to prospective employers” and “demonstrate that you learned the required skills.”
As programs that take considerably less time to complete, graduate certificate programs also cost substantially less than graduate degree programs. For example, students can earn EWU’s college teaching graduate certificate in as few as eight months and with an affordable total tuition of only $4,400.
Graduate certificate programs consist of selective graduate level coursework. They often target specialized professional content areas, teaching specific skills and knowledge. Graduate degree programs generally cover more subjects and are broader in focus.
Students may sometimes apply certificate program credits toward earning a graduate degree. For instance, EWU students can apply finished certificate courses toward a master’s from EWU if they decide to continue their education. Overall, earning a graduate certificate is a quick and affordable way to develop specialized knowledge and skills and pursue specific career goals.
How Does Teaching Adults Differ From Teaching Children?
Educational context, content and motivation can differ dramatically in adult education versus K-12 education. This distinction informs what, why and how an educator teaches.
K-12 education is compulsory, so the requirements externally impose a degree of student motivation. Consequently, K-12 teachers focus significant effort on inspiring students to actively engage in their learning, fostering intrinsic motivation and the desire to learn continuously. Conversely, adults must choose to engage with education. Their desire to learn is more self-directed. This difference suggests that an adult’s educational motivations focus on specific topics and their real-world applications.
Because of this, educators shape techniques and strategies used in teaching adults around understanding their motivation and reason for being in school. Content, delivery and real-world application should be aligned with those motivations to maximize engagement and learning outcomes.
In addition, adults already have some mastery of concepts from K-12 education. They have more life
experience than children. These factors guide aspects of teaching like instructional style, learning objectives, content complexity, achievement expectations and student choice.
Time commitments and obligations surrounding adult life (work, family, etc.) can also be intensive and complicated. Thus, adult education programs’ scheduling, course duration and educational environments are generally more flexible than K-12 school.
Adult education teachers should be prepared to work irregular schedules in nontraditional educational environments (online learning, night school, etc.). The teacher’s professional role often includes advising and guiding students via office hours and out-of-class communication. This part of the job demands different interpersonal and mentoring skills than are typical in K-12 teaching.
How Can EWU’s Graduate Certificate Prepare Me for Adult Education Teaching Roles?
EWU’s graduate certificate courses explore the role of higher education institutions like community colleges. Studies also examine teaching strategy, practice and educational theories specific to teacher-learner processes in adult education.
The Workshop in College Teaching helps students strengthen their teaching practices through supervised training. Students apply what they learn to real-world experience through internships teaching at two- or four-year colleges.
EWU’s certificate program does not satisfy Washington state teaching requirements for K-12 education. Instead, it expands on teaching practices learned in undergraduate teacher preparation programs, helping K-12 teachers adapt skills and knowledge to adult education environments. Washington only requires a state-approved teacher prep program to teach post-secondary classes.
Study.com notes that while many community college teaching roles require a master’s degree, some instructor positions only require a bachelor’s, advanced-level training and work experience gained through EWU’s internship programs. EWU’s certificate program also prepares educators for roles like teaching online training courses, working for GED prep programs and instructing in corporate or military settings.
Additionally, someone with a discipline-specific graduate degree could earn a college teaching graduate certificate to develop their adult teaching practices, which could be extremely helpful in the pursuit of and effectiveness in collegiate-level teaching roles.
Earning a graduate certificate in college education can expand a teacher’s career horizon, affording versatility in adult education job options. Plus, many such jobs offer more scheduling flexibility, variety in work environments and professional autonomy than K-12 education. These can be attractive prospects for the modern education professional.