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State Directors’ Research Notes

Guide

Taking Literacy Skills Home

Toward a New Pluralism in ABE/ESOL Classrooms

Open to Interpretation:  Multiple Intelligences Theory in Adult Literacy Education

The Economic Benefits of the GED

Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED?

Do the Cognitive Skills of Dropouts Matter in the Labor Market?

Patterns of Word Recognition Errors Among Adult Basic Education Native and Non-native Speakers of English

Classroom Dynamics in Adult Literacy Education

 Guide

Warning: The guides are intended to help you screen studies that might be helpful.  By nature, they oversimplify.  

Focus

(This portion of the NOTES identifies the topic the research is addressing, e.g., Reading, Student Persistence, Economic Impact of GED Recipients--at times the research language in the report title does not communicate the topic to non-researchers.)

Author

(This portion lists the researchers.)

Title

(The official title of the research report)

Definitions/

concepts

(This portion tries to capture two clarifiers: 1) terms that the researcher uses or creates to specify a variable used in the research; 2) key concepts used in the research.)  

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

(This portion presents hypotheses or assumptions on which the research is based.)

Method

(This portion describes the type of study, the subjects of the study, the state and program type of the study, and other such information that will help you see where the results might fit in your programs.)

Rigidity

 

 

 

Insight………………………….Prescription

                       X

(The method and type of study gives you an indication of how rigid the findings are.  Descriptive research, which describes events, usually gives you “insight” into what is reasonable to believe.  On the other hand, empirical research prescribes that if you do specified things under specified conditions, you will probably get the same results.  In addition, to get those results, you have to be careful to establish the same conditions and follow the procedures—your flexibility in adapting this strategy is limited.  The reviewer places the X along that continuum based on his/her analysis.)

Findings

(This section records the findings.  Hopefully they are pulled directly from the “findings” section of the report.  If not, the reviewer may cull them from the document.)

Author’s

Implications:

 

*Practice

 

(If the author lists implications for practice, they are recorded here.  If not, the reviewer may note her/his analysis.)

*Policy

(If the author lists implications for policy, they are recorded here.  If not, the reviewer may note his/her analysis.)

Range of impact

Targeted……………………………………………..Pervasive

                                                                                     X 

Here the reviewer will note how pervasive she/he thinks the findings would impact a state wide program.  If the findings relate to beginning readers in urban learning centers who attend 5 hours per day, the impact may be targeted to that small population.  However, if the findings relate to teaching beginning reading, the impact could be system wide—pervasive.  The X is placed on that continuum as the reviewer sees it.)

Web address

(The URL for the report is listed here.)

Taking Literacy Skills Home

Focus

Changes in learner literacy practices outside the classroom:  The effects of  using (1) real life literacy activities and (2) teacher/student shared decision-making on changes in literacy practices

Author

Victoria Purcell-Gates, Sophie Degener, Erik Jacobson, & Marta Soler

Title

Taking Literacy Skills Home

Definitions/

Concepts

Authenticity of instruction:  how close the activities and texts used in the class are to actual literacy practice in the world outside of formal schooling.

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

  • Using real life literacy activities in class will increase literacy practice outside the classroom.

  • Teacher/student shared decision-making will increase literacy practice outside the classroom.

Method Empirical study with 173 learners in 83 classes across the US
Rigidity Insight……………………………….……….Prescription

                                                    x

Findings
  • The degree of authenticity of adult literacy instruction had a moderate statistically significant effect on literacy practice change.

  • The degree of collaboration between students and teachers showed no relationship with literacy practice change.

Author’s

Implications:

 
*Practice

 

Teachers should include real-life literacy activities and texts in their classes.

Note:  Authentic materials are used for their “real life” purpose, not as simulations:  Newspapers are read to find out about news, weather, or current issues.  Driver’s manuals are read to prepare for the actual driver’s test.  Job applications are read and completed as part of real-life job searches.  Stories or reports are written and actually published in a newspaper.

*Policy  
Range of impact Targeted…………………………………………………………………………..Pervasive

                                                                                     X 

Web address http://ncsall.gse.harvard.edu/fob/2001/gates.html

 Toward a New Pluralism in ABE/ESOL Classrooms

Focus

  • Understanding the WAYS adult learners make meaning (make sense) of themselves and what and how they are learning.

  • The importance of the SOCIAL NETWORK of the class members

Author

Robert Kegan, Maria Brodrick, Eleanor Drago-Severson, Deborah Helsing, Nancy Poop, Kathryn Portnow

Title

Toward a New Pluralism in ABE/ESOL Classrooms:  Teaching to multiple “cultures of the mind”

Definitions/

Concepts

  • Learners’ increasing skills and content knowledge

  • Learners’ increasing complex meaning systems—ways of knowing (i.e. Instrumental—concrete, external, events, one’s own vantage point, interests, and preferences;  Socializing—more abstract and internal with other people as sources for validation, orientation, or authority; Self-Authoring—taking responsibility for and ownership of making their own system of beliefs)

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

 

Method

Followed for a year or more 41 ABE/ESOL learners from multiple nationalities in three US programs (a community college, a family literacy site, and a workplace site) in Massachusetts.

Rigidity 

Insight………………………        ….Prescription

                                                    x

Findings

  • The possibility and variety of significant change for adults in ABE/ESOL settings, even during as short a period as about a year;

  • The importance of the cohort (the class members as a social network) for adult learning (the interpersonal relationships made a critical difference to academic learning, emotional and psychological well-being, and ability to broaden perspectives); and

  • The variety of importantly different ways of knowing adults bring to the ABE/ESOL classroom.

Author’s

Implications:

 

*Practice

 

Lennox’s Notes:

  • Lower level learners are not necessarily Instrumental.  Level of content knowledge does not necessarily equate with level of complex meaning systems. Thus, it is important for teachers to watch how learners make meaning; (concrete rules, validation from others, or creating their own meaning) and organize learning activities that accommodate the levels of development.

  • Helping adult learners move to Self-Authoring is doable.

  • Developing classroom strategies to build the social network of the cohort (class members) has numerous positive benefits.

*Policy

 

Range of impact

Targeted……………………………………………………..………………..Pervasive

                                                                                     X 

Web address

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ncsall/research/report19a.pdf

 Open to Interpretation:  Multiple Intelligences Theory in Adult Literacy Education

Focus

Multiple Intelligences in adult education teaching

Author

Silja Kallenback & Julie Viens

Title

Open to Interpretation:  Multiple Intelligences Theory in Adult Literacy Education

Definitions/

Concepts

Eight intelligences:  linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.  Intelligences operate in combination

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

 

Method

Cross-site study using qualitative research conducted by teachers and research team

Rigidity

Insight………………………………..….Prescription

                       x

Findings

 

 

  • Multiple intelligence efforts (i.e., using diverse learning activities that draw on various intelligences) can result in high levels of adult learner engagement.

  • Choice-based activities (letting the learner identify, use, and demonstrate their particular areas of strength) increased students’ confidence about learning.

  • Connecting MI reflections (think about and assess their learning process and preferences) activities to broader learning goals is important.

Author’s

Implications:

 

*Practice
  • There is now a foundation of MI practice in adult literacy education that practitioners can examine and apply.

  • Teachers need an understanding of MI theory as well as the access and willingness to implement diverse learning activities.

  • Programs must express institutional support for teachers to engage in and sustain MI-based practices.

*Policy
  • To reflect MI theory, a policy and accountability system would move beyond current federal criteria.

  • The outcome of improved self-efficacy or metacognitive skills could be considered a secondary criterion of an accountability system.

Range of impact

Targeted……………………………………………………….……………..Pervasive

                                                                                     X 

Web address

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ncsall/research/brief21.pdf

The Economic Benefits of the GED

Focus

The Economic Benefits of the GED:  A Research Synthesis, including the significant impact of participating in postsecondary education and training

Author

John H. Tyler

Title

The Economic Benefits of the GED:  A Research Synthesis,  1998

Definitions/

Concepts

 

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

 

Method

This report is a synthesis of a number of GED studies.

Rigidity

 

Insight………………………….Prescription

                       X

Findings

 

 

  • A GED provides economic benefits only to low-skilled dropouts (see http://ncsall.gse.harvard.edu/fob/2000/tyler.html for an update on this finding)

  •  Economic benefits of a GED appear over time, not immediately.

  • The returns on postsecondary education and training are as large for GED as for traditional high school graduates, but GED holders do not typically pursue postsecondary education or on the job training, missing out on economic benefits.

  • A GED earned in prison appears to provide no economic payoff.

Author’s

Implications

 

*Practice

GED preparation programs are a worthwhile investment.

*Policy

Lennox’s Note:  Policy and resource support for helping GED holders participate in postsecondary education and training would have a significant individual economic impact.

Range of impact

Targeted………………………………                      ……………..Pervasive

                                                                                     X 

 

Web address http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ncsall/research/br_tyler1.pdf

 

Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED?

Focus

Earnings comparison of GED and traditional high school completers

Author

Richard J. Murnane, John B. Willett, John H. Tyler

Title

Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED?  Evidence from High School and Beyond, 2002

Definitions/

Concepts

The term “observationally similar” students:  because a part of the study included giving the sophomores a battery of cognitive tests, later comparisons could be made of students who began with weak skills and those who began with strong skills.

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

 

Method

A longitudinal study of 4216 males who were high school sophomores in 1980 who took cognitive tests at that time.  Some of them completed high school, some dropped out and passed the GED, and others dropped out and did not.  The study compares their annual earnings in 1990 and 1991.  Multiple regression analysis was used.

Rigidity

 

Insight………………………….Prescription

                                              X

Findings

 

 

  •  Male GED recipients do not earn as much, on average, at age 27 as observationally similar high school graduates.  (Part of the explanation is that males with conventional high school diplomas are much more likely to complete significant amounts of post-secondary education.)

  • On average, male GED recipients earn more than observational similar dropouts who have not obtained the credential.

  • Male dropouts who leave school with very weak cognitive skills (bottom quarter in math) have very low earnings, on average, at age 27.  For them, acquisition of a GED has a large positive effect on earnings.  The GED allows males who dropped out with very weak cognitive skills to earn about as much as uncredentialed dropouts who left with stronger cognitive skills earn.

  • Even though the GED helps, by itself the GED is not a powerful credential for escaping poverty.  Those GED recipients who use the credential to gain access to college do reap significant returns on this investment (11 % of GED recipients completed at least one year of college by age 27).

Authors

Implications:

 

*Practice

 

Kathi’s Note:  This information could be used to promote/market GED participation, as well as to encourage current students to stay to improve their skills.

*Policy

Lennox’s Note:  Policy and resource support for helping GED holders participate in postsecondary education and training would have a significant individual economic impact.

Range of impact

Targeted……………………………………………..Pervasive

                                                               X 

 

Web address

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ncsall/research/report_who.htm

Do the Cognitive Skills of Dropouts Matter in the Labor Market?

Focus

The relationship between academic level (GED tests scores) and earning level five years after testing

Author

John Tyler, Richard Murnane, and John Willet

Title

Do the cognitive skills of dropouts matter in the labor market?  Results from a study of GED attempters in two states

Definitions/

Concepts

Cognitive skills are defined by GED tests scores.  Labor market impact is defined as actual earnings after five years.  Demographic data include race/ethnicity and gender.

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

Higher skills mean higher wages.

Method

The study matched social security earnings data of GED test takers in Florida and New York five years after they attempted the GED.

Rigidity

Insight………………………….Prescription

                X

Findings

 

  • Overall, dropouts with higher GED test scores tend to earn more five years later than similar dropouts with lower GED scores.

  • Regardless of race/ethnicity or gender, individuals who score in the upper GED ranges earn substantially more five years after testing.

  • Non-Passers:  For those who did not pass the GED, dropouts with higher GED scores tend to earn more than those with lower scores five years later, except for white females where there was no difference.

  • Passers:  For those who did pass the GED, dropouts with higher GED scores tend to earn more than GED recipients with lower scores five years later, except for white males where there was no difference.

Author’s

Implications:

 

*Practice

 

 

*Policy

 

Range of impact

Targeted……………………………………………..Pervasive

                       X 

Web address

http://ncsall.gse.harvard.edu/fob/2000/tyler.html

Patterns of Word Recognition Errors Among Adult Basic Education Native and Non-native Speakers of English

Focus

Reading Grade Equivalency (GE) 4-6

Author

Rosalind Kasle Davidson and John Strucker

Title

Patterns of Word Recognition Errors Among Adult Basic Education Native and Non-native Speakers of English

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

Native and non-native 4-6 grade equivalency readers will have different reading strengths and weaknesses.

Method

Administered 17 reading assessments to 212 4-6 GE learners

Rigidity

Insight………………………….Prescription

                                             x

Findings

 

 

Native Speakers

  • Need decoding

  • Have partial knowledge of phonics and syllable patterns

    • Need to practice automaticity (they do it automatically)

    • Need to use what they know consistently

Non-Native Speakers

  • Need to expand vocabulary

  • Are committed to a phonetic coding strategy

  • At GE 4-6 find unusual pronunciations and unfamiliar phonics patterns

  • If they are exposed to English before age 12, they, like native speakers, need to over-learn phonics.

Teachers need to find out:

- what phonics principles the learner knows, AND

- what phonics principles he/she uses and with automaticity.

Author’s

Implications:

 

*Practice

Adult literacy centers should consider offering different approaches to accommodate the needs of different kinds of intermediate readers.

Teachers need to know not only the phonic principles adult learners appear to have mastered but also those they use with automaticity when they read.

*Policy

 

Range of impact

Targeted………………………………………………………………………..Pervasive

                                                                                     X 

Web address http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ncsall/research/br_strucker.pdf

Classroom Dynamics in Adult Literacy Education

Focus

Classroom Dynamics

  • Instructional delivery, content, & structure

  • Social processes in class

  • Factors that influence/shape success

Author

Hal Beder and Patsy Medina

Title

Classroom Dynamics in Adult Literacy Education

Definitions

 

Hypothesis/

Assumptions

 

Method

Observations and interviews in 20 classes in 8 states

Rigidity

Insight………………………….Prescription

       x

Findings

 

 

  • Most classroom instruction focuses on developing basic skills, not higher-level abilities.

  • Although teachers rank learners’ needs as their top priority, their teaching does not reflect this goal.

  • Seven classroom processes—sanctioning, engagement, directing, helping, expressing values and opinions, and community—are important in understanding adult literacy education classrooms.

  • Class composition, enrollment turbulence, and funding pressure shape classroom dynamics.

Author’s

Implications

 

*Practice
  • If literacy entails acquiring higher-level as well as basic skills, current instruction is deficient.

  • Lack of open discussion may impede development of important oral literacy skills.

  • Inclusion activities could help teachers increase community in the classroom, at little expense.

*Policy
  • Relatively homogeneous (gender, age, and ethnicity) classes seem to promote sharing and community.

  • Continuous enrollment and mixed skill levels are serious and understated problems in the adult literacy classroom.

  • How funds are allocated is as much an issue as the amount of available funds

  • Staff development should be mandated, and funding for it should be increased.

Range of impact

Targeted……………………………………………………………… …….x.Pervasive

                                                                                        

Web address http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ncsall/research/br_beder.pdf

 

 


Contact us: Patricia Tyler, Executive Director; 444 North Capitol Street, NW; Suite 422; Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-624-5250; Fax: 202-624-1497; Email: ptyler@naepdc.org