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Donato, Richard (December 2003). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Language and Linguistics. Action research is any systematic inquiry conducted by teacher researchers to gather information about the ways that their particular school operates, how they teach, and how well their students learn (Mills, 2003). Action research can inform teachers about their practice and empower them to take leadership roles in their local teaching contexts. This Digest describes a framework for action research, an example of action research in an elementary school Spanish class, and features of action research.
Adult Learning in Cohort Groups
Imel, Susan (2002). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. Many adult educators use group learning as an element of their programs. Recently, a form of group learning - cohorts - has emerged as an attractive option for administrators, instructors, and participants. Cohorts are usually defined as groups of students who enroll at the same time and go through a program by taking the same courses at the same time. A cohort is much more than a structure, however. It is a common-purpose group that has foundations in group dynamics, adult development, and adult learning theory. This ERIC Practice Application Brief highlights findings from research and theory on adult learning cohorts to examine how cohorts are structured or formed and the experience of the learning process within cohorts. Recommendations for practice are provided.
Adult Reading Components Study (ARCS):
A NCSALL Research Brief
Strucker, John and Davidson, Rosalind (November 2003). Boston, MA: National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. NCSALL’s Adult Reading Components Study (ARCS) was designed to describe the various types or clusters of readers enrolled in U.S. adult basic education (ABE) programs, including both native speakers and those in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes. The goal of the study was to help practitioners and policymakers understand who adult learners are as readers and how to gear instruction to their specific reading needs. Research Brief is also available online in pdf format at: http://www.ncsall.net/fileadmin/resources/research/brief_strucker2.pdf. ***
See also the interactive Reading Profiles website supported by the National Institute for Literacy, which features a mini-course on reading and an opportunity for teachers to enter scores for an adult learner and have that learner matched to one of the 11 ARCS-based profiles: http://www.nifl.gov/readingprofiles/.
The Characteristics and Concerns of Adult Basic Education Teachers
Smith, Christine, Hofer, Judy (November 2003). Cambridge, MA: National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy.Report documents what is commonly known, but has not been well researched, about teachers in the adult basic education field; the challenges they face in teaching, in their programs, and as members of the field; the training and preparation they receive; and their current working conditions. The results confirm that teachers and programs are stressed, stretched, and challenged as they try to provide the best possible services to a large number of students. Recommendations in the final chapter include recommendations for policy-makers, program directors, and professional developers for improving teacher preparation and working conditions. The authors also recommend that research be funded on the connection between teacher preparation, working conditions, and student achievement. FREE hard copies are available to TEXAS educators ONLY, but report is also available online at http://www.ncsall.net/index.php?id=29 - scroll down page to find title.
The Economic Benefits of the GED: A Research Synthesis
Tyler, John H. (2002). Boston, MA: National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. As more states use test results as a determinant for high school graduation, many analysts predict higher dropout rates and the growth of the GED as an important educational credential. But does a GED provide economic benefits to a high school dropout? In this NCSALL Research Brief, Tyler reviews the the findings on this question from four published papers and four unpublished working papers.
From the Prison Track to the College Track: Pathways to Postsecondary
Success for Out-of-School Youth
Allen, Lili, Almeida, Cheryl, and Steinberg, Adria (April 2004). Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future. Ideally, between the ages of 16 to 24 young people become confident, competent learners as they solidify academic, interpersonal, and social skills, explore future options, and develop a realistic sense of what it will take to make such options a reality. But the so-called "pipeline to college" is leaking badly, particularly for minority and low-income youth. The authors examine learning environments that appear to hold particular promise for vulnerable and potentially disconnected youth. They conclude with a discussion of policy opportunities for creating multiple avenues for young people to achieve to higher standards. One of those strategies of particular interest to adult educators is to advocate for funding following the learner when students leave the "first chance" public education system and enter other programs such as non-profit or community- based organizations.
Literacy and Health Outcomes:
Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 87: Summary
RTI International (April 2004). Washington, DC: Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. RTI International, an evidence-based practice center at University of North Carolina, prepared the full evidence report from which this summary was taken. Given that low literacy may affect health and well-being negatively, this systematic review consolidated and analyzed the body of literature that has been produced to date regarding the relationship between literacy and health outcomes and the evidence about interventions intended to improve the health of people with low literacy. The general conclusion was that low reading skill and poor health are clearly related, though conclusions about the effectiveness of interventions to mitigate the effects of low literacy remain less well supported at this time.
Metacognitive Skills for Adult Learning
Imel, Susan (2002). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. Meta-cognition refers to the ability of learners to be aware of and monitor their learning processes (Peters 2000). Successful adult learners employ a range of meta-cognitive skills and effective teachers of adults attend to the development of these skills. This ERIC Trends and Issues Alert describes some of the trends related to metacognitive skills for adult learners and provides a list of resources for further information.
Moving Forward: Head Start Children, Families, and Programs in 2003
Hart, Katherine and Schumacher, Rachel (June 2004). Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy. This Policy Brief offers the latest data available from Program Information Reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by all federal Head Start grantees. In 2003, Head Start continued to serve a diverse population of low-income children, mostly in working families. Head Start provided early education and a range of services to poor children and their families, including developmental and mental health screenings and special education and early intervention services. In 2003, more Head Start children had access to continuous medical and dental care than in previous years.
Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America
Bradshaw, Tom and Nichols, Bonnie (June 2004). Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts. This report describes a study designed by the National Endowment for the Arts and carried out by the Census Bureau, which gathered over 17,000 respondents correlated by age, income, race, education, region, and leisure habits. The numbers were compared to those of similar surveys conducted in 1982 and 1992 and show that literary reading is declining at precipitous rates among young adults. In 1982, the age group 18-24 was among the most active and engaged of all readers. Now, it is the least active. While household spending on digital equipment has risen 400% since 1990, spending on books has remained flat. The survey found that declines in literary reading occurred in all categories, rich and poor, men and women, black and white, college-educated and grade school-educated.
Second Language Acquisition and Technology: A Review of the
LeLoup, Jean W. and Ponterio, Robert (December 2003). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Language and Linguistics. Foreign language teachers have always been ahead of the curve in integrating tech-nology into instruction and learning, seeing the benefits of technology even without an extant research database to confirm their judgment. The number of computer applications, communications technologies, and sheer volume of offerings on the Internet has grown at an amazing rate over the past 15 years, and many foreign language educators, heeding instinct, common sense, and anecdotal information, have embraced these new technologies as useful instructional tools. There is, however, a small but increasingly vocal cadre of second language acquisition researchers who question whether the use of new technologies in language instruction furthers second language acquisition. This Digest describes a conceptual framework through which to view the research; problems with the research base; what the research does indicate; and additional thoughts on second language acquisition and technology.
Second Language Acquisition in Adults: From Research to Practice
Moss, Donna and Ross-Feldman, Lauren (December 2003). Washington, DC: National Center for ESL Literacy Education. Second language acquisition (SLA) is the study of how second languages are learned and the factors that influence the process. Little research has been conducted on SLA with English language learners in adult education contexts. The complexities of adult English as a second language (ESL) instruction make research in this field challenging. Investigating issues of culture, language, and education and tracking learner progress over time are not easy when complicated by diverse and mobile learner populations and varied learning contexts (e.g., workplace classes, general ESL classes, family literacy classes). However, knowing about the SLA research that has been conducted can be helpful to adult ESL teachers because the findings may be applicable to their populations and contexts. The purpose of this Q&A is to show how SLA research can inform adult ESL instruction. Research in three areas of second language acquisition are discussed: (1) the effect of learner motivation, (2) the role of interaction, and (3) the role of vocabulary.
Teaching Adults: Is It Different?
Kerka, Sandra (2002). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education.To be considered a distinct profession with a unique knowledge base (Merriam 2001), the field of adult education advances the idea that teaching adults is different than teaching children. The subject of much debate, this issue has generated assumptions, opinions, and research. This ERIC Myths and Realities publication takes a look at all three in discerning myths and realities associated with the teaching of adults.