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The instructional design of Today’s Mom is based primarily on the principles of adult learning and the Social Cognitive Learning Theory. Effective EFNEP and SNAP-Ed educators must be knowledgeable regarding how adults learn best. Adult learners cannot be compared to children or teen learners. Instead, educators must recognize that people experience unique needs and interests across their lifespans. This is especially true for a Today’s Mom mom-to-be whose pregnancy accounts for one of the most unique times in her life.
Six key principles of adult learning have been identified by Knowles. They are:
1. Adults are internally motivated and self-directed.
Adults want to be free to direct themselves and make their own choices and decisions. Therefore, it is important for EFNEP and SNAP-Ed educators to facilitate and actively engage the Today’s Mom mom-to-be in the learning environment. Through Today’s Mom, moms-to-be share their needs and engage in activities that reflect their interests. As a result, moms-to-be are empowered to make more informed choices to improve their dietary practices. The Today’s Mom mom-to-be is inspired to take responsibility for her role in having a healthy baby.
2. Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences.
Today’s Mom provides opportunities for small-group discussion whereby moms-to-be can comfortably share their life experiences and knowledge while also learning from one another. EFNEP and SNAP-Ed educators also have an opportunity to tie in their life experiences. It is very important for EFNEP and SNAP-Ed educators not to set themselves up as perfect examples or imply they have more knowledge and expertise about topics of discussion.
3. Adults are goal oriented.
Pregnancy is a very special time in the life of a woman. The pregnancy takes center stage in her life. The goal of a mom-to-be is to deliver a healthy baby. By using the information learned and skills developed, this goal is accomplished.
4. Adults are relevancy oriented.
Today’s Mom moms-to-be will show interest when the subject matter is relevant to what they are interested in, obstacles they face, or subjects they want to know more about. Topics that address the needs and interests of the learners pique their curiosity.
5. Adults are practical.
Today’s Mom moms-to-be do not want to just “soak up knowledge”; they want to know ways to use the knowledge to build a better life. It is important that the information helps them to achieve their goals. Adults learn best when they see the connection between what they are learning and what they have to do in real life. When Today’s Mom is presented in a practical fashion, the mom-to-be is motivated to learn.
6. Adult learners like to be respected.
Respect the rights, opinions, and ideas of adult learners. Adult learners prefer to partner with EFNEP and SNAP-Ed educators. They want to be treated as colleagues and acknowledged for ideas brought to the table. Adult learners have a wealth of varied life experiences.
Additionally, Today’s Mom emphasizes that much of what is learned comes from observing and modeling the behavior of others based on Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory. This process of learning from others also is rooted in self-efficacy or the person’s belief in his or her ability to carry out a certain task or skill. As moms-to-be witness successful desired behaviors from others, they in turn will reproduce the same actions. Such actions may include behaviors modeled by the EFNEP educator and associated EFNEP and SNAP-Ed learners. In Today’s Mom, behaviors are modeled through demonstrations and role playing, which help moms-to-be gain proficiency in nutrition knowledge and the development of new skills.
Virtually all moms-to-be can identify with the one main goal: delivering a healthy baby. ThroughToday’s Mom, moms-to-be are able to develop an action plan for accomplishing the goal of delivering a healthy baby. Bandura’s theory also asserts that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals,tasks, and challengesare approached.
Through self-efficacy, Today’s Mom moms-to-be will be able to do the following:
- view a healthy pregnancy as a task to be accomplished
- develop a keener interest in themselves and their unborn babies
- form a stronger commitment to wise nutrition choices, adequate weight gain, and physical activity
- identify discomforts and potential dangers to avoid during pregnancy