Guest blogger, author and contributor of this post is Zach Buckley.  Zach Buckley is a freelance writer who is interested in exploring the intersection of culture, science and education.  He lives in the Midwest and enjoys music, literature and good food.

The average modern student is no longer average. Today, students come from all different educational backgrounds and all ages, thanks to the increasing accessibility of higher education that is made possible by adaptive learning tools. Adaptive learning is essentially any educational method that utilizes modern technology (especifically computers) to interact with students and promote learning flexibility. Because of the growing popularity for these measures, students of all varieties are continuing to take advantage of these tools.

Introducing the Non-Traditional Student

The non-traditional student can be virtually any age and have a wide variety of different experiences. He or she may have a family, a stable career, be on the lookout for a job, come from a different country for educational opportunities, be looking into going back to school after a long hiatus, or any combination of these circumstances. One common example of non-traditional students can be found in a recent article by the Florida Times-Union. Within this article, an inspiring story was reported regarding 57-year old mother Karen Baker and her 37-year old daughter Latisha Robinson making the decision to return back to school after a long break.

Both Baker and Robinson had many responsibilities to attend to on top of school, including marriages, children, ministries, current jobs and other obstacles that may prevent success with traditional education methods. However, with the specialized adaptive learning program at the college they attended, Baker and Robinson have been able to work toward their goals of obtaining an online bachelor degree.

The Benefits of Adaptive Learning for Today’s Student

Since the average non-traditional student struggles with balancing full-time responsibilities such as a family and a career, adaptive learning tools can often be the only feasible route for gaining a higher degree. Adaptive education makes taking classes and submitting assignments more portable and versatile, which allows non-traditional students of the modern age to fit their education into their own schedules, rather than the other way around. Despite the flexibility earning an online bachelor degree brings to today’s student, many older learners wonder if they are capable of performing up to the level of their peers after such a long hiatus away from an academic environment.

According to, adult learners who go back to school through adaptive education measures are not only performing at the same level as younger students in relative grade levels, but are actually performing better on average. This conclusion was made according to a recent study in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. Within the study, researchers compared three different age groups of students enrolled in a graduate-level course in special education. These three groups included early-career students from 21 to 35, mid-career adults from 36 to 49, and late-career adult learners from 50 to 65.

The study revealed that the older adult students struggled initially in adapting to the technological medium of online learning; however, each of these groups showed exceptional performance on assignments and reported high levels of personal satisfaction upon the completion of the course.

The Future of Education with Adaptive Learning Leading the Way

Adaptive learning has made it possible for non-traditional students of all kinds to reach for their goals and achieve academically. The increasing accessibility of online learning has made it so that these students not only benefit by accomplishing educational endeavors, but society as a whole benefits with a better-educated population. With this in mind, the future of education appears to be bright for students everywhere as long as adaptive learning is there to help students achieve.

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Zach Buckley is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. Having graduated from high school in the year 2000, he belongs to the millennial generation. Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science and a master’s degree in communication. He enjoys exploring developing trends in education, technology and culture. When he isn’t reading or writing blogs, he enjoys sampling good music and good food. You can get a hold of him at

One Thought on “Adaptive Learning and the Non-Traditional Student”

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