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Adult Literacy Teachers’ Perspectives on Reading Difficulties

Adult Literacy Teachers’ Perspectives on Reading Difficulties

We are pleased to share Volume 1, Issue 1 of ProLiteracy’s new research journal, Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy.

Adult Literacy Education is a peer-reviewed, online journal that will be available twice per year. The journal will publish research on adult basic and secondary education and transitions into the workplace and higher education. Research will reflect best practices in adult education to inform practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and funders.
 
The journal is FREE and available as one document or as separate articles for download. We encourage you to circulate the journal widely to share timely, relevant topics and practices in adult education research. 

Twice a month, we will highlight an excerpt from a research article published in the current issue of the journal. This week, we are featuring the article Adult Literacy Teachers’ Perspectives on Reading Difficulties and the Origins of These Perspectives, by Elaine Chapman and Janet McHardy.

Studies of the teaching practices used in adult reading programs suggest that these practices often reflect the personal perspectives of teachers on factors that contribute to less-skilled reading development.

In this study, 19 adult reading teachers were interviewed to explore their perspectives on how adults become less-skilled readers and the origins of these perspectives. Four themes were identified in terms of teachers’ perspectives, which attributed less-skilled reading respectively to: (a) learners’ distinct needs not being met, (b) readers’ “life baggage”, (c) under-developed sense of joy in reading, and (d) inappropriate learning environments. Four main types of experiences appeared to have contributed to the development of these perspectives: (a) teachers’ own experiences in learning reading, (b) teachers’ general teaching experience, (c) teachers’ experiences of teaching reading specifically, and (d) teachers’ knowledge of formal reading theories and/or empirical research findings. Potential implications for enhancing the outcomes of adult reading instruction programs are discussed.

Literacy skills have long been recognized as an important correlate of social and economic outcomes, both for individuals and for overall communities (e.g., European Union High Level Group of Experts on Literacy, 2012; National Research Council, 2012). Despite this, a considerable body of research evidence suggests that large numbers of adults worldwide continue to have difficulties in the area of basic literacy. Foremost among this research is a series of international surveys of adult skills, the most recent of which is the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (OECD Skills Outlook, 2013).

PIAAC has prompted a series of national reports examining local contexts. For example, one recent Australian report (Australian Industry Group, 2016) indicated that 44% of Australian adults have literacy skills below the minimum level required to function fully in a modern society. Similar results have been reported in studies from other developed countries. For example, in 2012, the European Union’s High Level Group of Experts on Literacy reported that 20% of adults in Europe exhibited some difficulties in the area of literacy, while in 2014, Gyarmati et al. reported that nearly half of the working-age Abstract: Studies of the teaching practices used in adult reading programs suggest that these practices often reflect the personal perspectives of teachers on factors that contribute to less-skilled reading development. In this study, 19 adult reading teachers were interviewed to explore their perspectives on how adults become less-skilled readers and the origins of these perspectives. Four themes were identified in terms of teachers’ perspectives, which attributed less-skilled reading respectively to: (a) learners’ distinct needs not being met, (b) readers’ “life baggage”, (c) under-developed sense of joy in reading, and (d) inappropriate learning environments. Four main types of experiences appeared to have contributed to the development of these perspectives: (a) teachers’ own experiences in learning reading, (b) teachers’ general teaching experience, (c) teachers’ experiences of teaching reading specifically, and (d) teachers’ knowledge of formal reading theories and/or empirical research findings. Potential implications for enhancing the outcomes of adult reading instruction programs are discussed.

Results such as these underscore the urgent need for research into ways to enhance literacy skills within the adult population.

To read the full 13-page research article, click here.

Adult literacy education research journal

 





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