Today's Weather

Weather from OpenWeatherMap

Contact Olive

Olive Bryanton,MEd,LLD
Project Coordinator PEI Centre on Health & Aging
310 Health Sciences Building UPEI Campus
550 University Ave.
Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3
Phone: 902-894-2841 902-675-4312
PhD Student, Faculty of Education, UPEI

Instructional Competencies
Olive Bryanton 23539
University of Prince Edward Island
September 2015

Author Note

Olive Bryanton, Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Olive Bryanton, Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island,
550 University Avenue Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3


Instructional Competencies





Learning and teaching has always been part of my life a value instilled in me by my great grandfather and my mother. All my life I have been an advocate and educator and have constantly been seeking new opportunities to learn more. My initial teaching involved working with children and youth, but my focus toward adults began when I worked as a nurse first in a hospital setting than in a doctor’s office. Teaching prenatal patients, new mothers and women who were gynaecology patients were my focus. As a learner I was constantly taking short courses related to topics of interest, but eventually I became a full time student at UPEI and obtained my undergraduate degree in Sociology and Canadian Studies. As a ‘mature student’ on campus I noted a lack of support for the non-traditional students and was involved in establishing an organization on UPEI campus for mature and part-time university students (MAPUS), an organization that still exists and has benefited many part-time and mature undergraduate students since its inception in 1982. As an advocate and continuous learner I also served as President of a national organization for part-time students called the Canadian Organization for Part-Time University Students (COPUS). Following graduation I became more focussed on older adult learning and took a course in adult education at UPEI, but my knowledge about teaching older adults continued to be limited primarily to instinct and good intentions. As coordinator of the Centre on Health and Aging on UPEI campus I wanted to improve my research skills and enrolled in the Masters of Education program, graduating in 2009. Although my presentation/facilitating experience have primarily been linked to adult learning, I have taught a sessional academic class at UPEI, but my focus has been on older adult learning through workshops and informal education sessions including Senior’s College which is a self-directed organization affiliated with UPEI that I was actively involved in establishing. The first Memorandum of Agreement between the Seniors College and the University was signed on July 8, 1998 and as chair of the steering committee I signed the agreement on behalf of the new organization. In a press release announcing the launching of the Seniors College on September 1998 it was stated by Dr. Lawrence E. Heider, Acting President of UPEI and Dr. John Crossley that UPEI is pleased to partner with a community group in the fulfilment of learning needs and supports the involvement and leadership of seniors in the planning and delivery of education programs designed for seniors.

Within this paper I will describe and show competencies I used related to adult and older adult education and learning specifically through education sessions through seniors college classes. It has been during my PhD student experience that I began to understand and value the educational considerations and instructional competencies one needs to be a successful adult and older adult educator.  This understanding highlights the importance of designing courses that have sufficient space for older adults to reflect and share experiences with each other; that includes considerations for possible cognitive changes and decreases in visual and auditory acuity; and is centered on the learning needs of the participants.


To demonstrate my instructional competencies related to adult and older adult learning I have selected the following three artefacts:

1.1 Highlights of the Instructional Competencies used through Seniors College

2.1 PowerPoint Presentation at a Seniors College class

3.1 Video example of student engagement at Seniors College

Artefact 1.1 Highlights of Instructional Competencies   
Highlights of the instructional competencies used through Seniors College demonstrates my ability to develop instructional material, utilize instructional competencies, and schedule classes. As noted by several authors, the development and presentation of older adult educational and training courses requires: consideration for course design and the development of learning materials that take into consideration possible cognitive decline, decreases in sensory functions and sufficient space for sharing and reflecting on experiences and motives for participating in learning opportunities.  As noted by du Plessis, Anstey, Schlumpp, (2011) older adults motive for participating in educational programs are influenced by personal interests, social contact, and a desire to maintain a high level of self-efficacy and functioning; and they provided course design considerations which included but not limited to:

                                    • Catering for a wide variety of interests and skill level
                                    • Developing tasks that are challenging, yet doable
                                    • Reduce distractions in the learning environment
                                    • Develop built-in adaptable print and audio functions to allow for larger text, higher contrast text and louder audio
                                    • Using a constructivist paradigm that facilitates peer-to-peer learning, group discussions and social contact 
and mutually agreed upon boundaries at the start of the course regarding discussions and group participation.


IMG_1882 IMG_1883 IMG_1881

This concept is parallel to Freire’s philosophy, which is a paradigm shift from instruction to a learning emphasis based on an active self-constructed acquiring of knowledge, skills and competence. Choi 2009 noted that in the field of adult education, peer teaching is a term not found in widely referenced introductory adult education textbooks such as Knowles, Holton, and Swanson (1998), Merriam and Brockett (1997), and Wilson and Hayes (2000) (831-32), and suggests that peer teaching is important for older adults as an experience of learning and discovery and is defined as a pedagogy in which self-governing members design their own schedule of course offerings and take on faculty roles from within the membership. This concept aligns with the first of the Seniors College of Prince Edward Island’s goals: to provide stimulating peer learning opportunities. Based on possible topics suggested by the incoming students, I developed a class schedule for implementation March to May 2015.  The anticipated outcome of this course is that the participants will have an increased understanding of the aging process and will have increased their skills and knowledge necessary to be proactive in relation to issues they may encounter as they age in this society.  When designing, developing and facilitating the seniors college course entitled, “The Realities and Fallacies of Aging” for the spring semester 2015, the following were considerations; seniors college non-credit course classes are presented throughout three semesters (fall, winter and spring) and offered in three-hour sessions once a week for eight weeks. The course I initiated was being offered during the spring session and since all students sign up for their yearly courses during the fall registration, I was able to design and develop the curriculum with input from the potential incoming students. Thus was able to able to adapt the course content to the wants of the learners. By knowing some of the learning needs of the potential students I was able to incorporate tasks that challenged their critical thinking and used a variety of teaching and learning techniques within each class. A classroom learning environment was enhanced with access to audio/visual equipment and consideration was given to audio/visual acuity by ensuring that attention was given to font size, volume and lighting. Peer-to-peer learning was encouraged through group discussions, question and answer sessions, and the sharing of materials related to class topics. Recap at the beginning and or end of each session gave the learners and teacher an opportunity to dialogue and reflect on what was learned and offer suggestions or comments to benefit future learning sessions. Handout were provided with most classes and in some cases the participants were asked to read a handout for the next class and be prepared to offer comments about the content and the relationship to the session for the day. Social opportunities were made possible through break sessions and with various participants taking turns to bring treats to share with the rest of the class.

The following class schedule was developed for the student’s and was divided into the following columns: date, topic, presenter and a picture of the presenter(s).

Class Schedule

2.1 PowerPoint Presentation at a Seniors College class   

This artefact exhibits the type of material offered and demonstrates the techniques used to deliver the information.


3.1 Video example of student engagement at a Seniors College class

This video shows student engagement during the class



Within this document I have demonstrated my competencies as an instructor/facilitator within the confines of a Seniors College course I developed and facilitated. I have used principles of adult education and paid attention to older adult issues related to vision, hearing and time to absorb or integrate new knowledge. Participant’s active learning remained a focus with lots of opportunities for input and discussion. My instructional competencies have spanned age groups and years but are now focused on adult learning specifically older adult learning.


Choi, I. (2009).  The Meaning of older adult peer teaching: A phenomenological study. Educational Gerontology, 35: 831–852, 2009 DOI: 10.1080/03601270902973573

Du Plessis, K., Anstey, K. J., Schlumpp, A. (2011). Older adults’ training courses:

Considerations for course design and the development of learning materials. Australian Journal of Adult Learning. 51(1)