University of Tasmania
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The moment of first encounter: processes used by teachers of adults

posted on 2023-05-26, 06:00 authored by Tyzack, H
This exploratory study reports on the performance of teacher practitioners when first encountering a new class group of adult learners, within Tasmanian education and training institutions. It was conducted within a context of increasing numbers of adult learners in these organisations. The thesis is that there is insufficient understanding of what such practitioners bring to the moment of first encounter, and about what they do and the reasons for their activity in that first moment. In a qualitative study, a sample of 34 practitioners was interviewed and some of their learners contributed additional viewpoints. A mixed methods approach was the basis of the research design. The study explores how the prior knowledge, experience and personal paradigms, which adult practitioners bring to the moment of first face-to-face encounter with a new group of adult learners, are employed during the moment of first encounter. On the basis that ‚ÄövÑvªfirst impressions [may] count‚ÄövÑvº, this study investigates the observations, thinking and decision making activities of practitioners, during their moment of first encounter with new class groups. The study revealed that prior to the moment of first encounter, practitioners can be understood as containers of memories, experiences, and knowledge. As they journey into the moment of first encounter and meet a new group of adult learners, they are enriched by their baggage of knowledge stores and experiences gathered in different periods preceding that moment. The moment of first encounter is a time when practitioners reflect on their experience and retrieve a body of pre-existing knowledge and beliefs, some of which may be derived from a Familiarisation Routine. Collectively, this study labels these as a Foundation. In the moment of first encounter, practitioners proceed by executing a number of activities patterned into typical routines; a Discovery Routine, which flows instantly and automatically through a Transformation Routine then a Decision-making Routine. These seamlessly integrated Routines meet the needs of the present without compromising practitioners‚ÄövÑvº ability in future moments to meet their own needs. Regardless of the level of interest in and care about the group of learners, practitioners‚ÄövÑvº initially focus on their personal needs. The research found that the moment of first encounter is a scene-setting period where practitioners take stock of the learners as a group, in order to plan for a pathway that will reduce any of their own anxieties. The outcome from this study is a new understanding of the first activities that occur in a limited time period at the beginning of a practitioner‚ÄövÑvºs first meeting with a class group of adult learners, and an appreciation of a practitioner‚ÄövÑvºs initial thoughts and decisions. It is expected that the findings will assist with training those who propose to teach adult learners.


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Copyright 2009 the author

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