Book by Laurie Materna
Review by Jennifer Varney
Academic Coordinator
Hesser College
Manchester NH

Materna presents material that may prove of significance to advisors as they work with students and interact with faculty. While Jump Start the Adult Learner provides principles, ideas and theoretical underpinnings that have more applicability to faculty, many of the ideas, concepts and theories presented can be used by advisors to assist students to navigate their coursework and surmount some of the challenges typically faced by adult learners.

The section on how the brain learns may provide more information than is necessary for daily advising activities however Materna follows with classroom strategies that are well-targeted toward adult learners. Of particular interest is the section on providing the proper environment for maximum learning, including: breathing exercises for students, aromas, proper nutrition, music and visualization, as well as suggested study and test-taking strategies. The advisor reading this text will find that these are the first of several opportunities for creative application of ideas presented. Materna offers two key observation points regarding adult learners that guide the progression of the text:

1.    adult learners cannot attend to a new learning task if they are preoccupied with other dimensions of their lives (p. 135).
2.    when the adult learner is ready to learn, learning will progress at a natural pace (p. 135).

Materna expands upon these points and uses them to stress the importance of providing a suitable learning environment; this is another example of an idea that transcends beyond the classroom to the advising office. The author also offers The Materna Method (a guide to help select supplemental classroom activities that facilitate learning) which ranges from preparation to demonstration of learning through synthesis of presented concepts into new material. This could prove particularly helpful for faculty development.

Overall this text is a very interesting read with significant applicability to both advisors and faculty. The creative advisor will have no problem synthesizing Materna’s ideas and theories of brain-compatible learning strategies into daily interactions with students and faculty.

Jump Start the Adult Learner: How to engage and motivate adults using brain-compatible strategies. (2007). Book by Laurie Materna. Review by Jennifer Varney. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. 232 pp., $34.95, (paperback). ISBN # 9781412952941
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