The lean prescription for non-traditional adult learners

Date01 July 2019
Published date01 July 2019
AuthorJitendra Singh
Subject MatterEducation,Educational evaluation/assessment
The lean prescription for
non-traditional adult learners
Jitendra Singh
Minnesota State University Moorhead College of Science Health and
the Environment, Moorhead, Minnesota, USA
Purpose The purpose of thispaper is to describe how lean management principles canbe used in teaching
and learning processes while preparing classes for non-traditional adult learners (NALs). Careful planning
and the application of lean methods can result in NALsenhanced engagement and success at academic
Design/methodology/approach The fundamental concepts of the lean philosophy, value, value
streams, ow, pull and perfection were used to carefully examine the teaching and learning process at
academic institutions. Efforts were made to identify non-value-added activities in the process and explore
methodsto enhance the learning experience for NALs.
Findings This paper providesa comprehensiveapproach on how to plan a class using lean methodology.
Identication and removal of non-value-added activities in teaching and learning processes can help to
engage studentsin the classroom.
Practical implications This research has practical implications for academic institutions.
Incorporation of lean methodology may lead to identication and elimination of waste in teaching and
learning processes. This may allow instructors to re-evaluate existing course delivery methods and offer
equal or higher qualitycurricula while reducing cost at the same time.
Originality/value Lean management principles have been successfully applied to a variety of
administrativeprocesses at academic institutions. However,there exists very limited research that show lean
can be effectively used in designing curricula for NALs. This project can provide a framework for the
applicationof lean while teaching and learning at academic institutions.
Keywords Course design, Lean management, Course delivery,
Non-traditional adult learners (NALs)
Paper type Viewpoint
Research on non-traditional adult learners (NALs) indicates that they form a considerable
portion of the undergraduate student population. The National Center for Education
Statistics (NCES) projectedthat enrollment of non-traditional learners willcontinue to rise or
remain stable in the next few years (Hussar and Bailey, 2009;Ross-Gordon, 2011). Reasons
behind this increase include but are not limitedto better career prospects after completion of
undergraduate programs, increases in service-industry jobs, and other changes that may
require individuals to switch jobs or, in some cases, even elds (Klein-Collins, 2011). NALs
include students over and underthe age of 25 who meet one or more of the following criteria:
full-time job while attending school; not nancially dependent on anyone; single parent;
attend school on a part-time basis; incomplete high school education; interruption of their
academic career and have dependents, such as parents, kids and relatives other than their
spouse (Chen, 2017;Hornand Carroll, 1996).
Evidence suggests that NALs constitute approximately 38.2 per cent of the post-
secondary population in the USA. However, majority of the processes in higher education
Received13 September 2018
Revised9 March 2019
5 May2019
22May 2019
Accepted9 June 2019
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.27 No. 3, 2019
pp. 347-359
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-09-2018-0100
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