VOLUME 3 ISSUE 1 : WINTER 2021
Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy
The journal’s mission is to publish research on adult basic and secondary education and transitions to college and career programs. It informs practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and funders about best practices in adult literacy, numeracy, and English language education in publicly funded, community and volunteer-based programs in a wide range of contexts. Each issue will consist of research articles focused on a particular theme plus other content of interest to readers (e.g., resource reviews, opinion pieces, and debates and discussions on timely topics of interest to the field).
Contact: ProLiteracy, https://www.proliteracy.org/ALE-Journal
A Portrait of the Adult Learner: Pluralistic Interpretations of Literacy Learning Outcomes Over the Years
Maurice Taylor and David Trumpower, University of Ottawa
In Canada, various studies investigating literacy learning have contributed to our understanding of the lives of the adult student. Through a consolidation of empirical evidence, a portrait of the adult learner is sketched, drawing upon pluralistic interpretations of the important life changes that have resulted from their participation in literacy education. This portrait highlights the significance of a variety of learning outcomes that go beyond traditional measures of knowledge and skills acquisition, with an emphasis on the relevance of such outcomes for different types of literacy learners, in various settings, and along three diverse learning pathways. International implications are highlighted in the discussion.
Examining the Impact of Workplace Literacy Programs on the Structure of Social Networks: A Study of Low-Income Somali Refugee Workers
Angela U. Nwude and Anna Zajicek, University of Arkansas
This study aimed to examine the impact of workplace literacy programs on the structure of social networks accessible to low-income Somali refugee workers. We conceptualized structure as network size and tie strength. Data were drawn using interviews with eighteen participants enrolled in a workplace literacy program. The classes offered included English as a Second Language, high school equivalency, and citizenship, and participants had attended classes for at least 3 months. The interview protocol was designed using a name generator instrument. The findings revealed that participation in classes had a positive impact on their network structure, through the acquisition of strong ties with co-workers.
Improving the Comprehension and Vocabulary Skills of English Language Learners With Content Integrated Language Instruction for Adults
Aydin Yücesan Durgunoglu, University of Minnesota Duluth; Anurag Sagar, IHM Center for Literacy; Katherine E. Fagan, Center for Literacy (retired); Amy Brueck, Sanata Dharma University
We have developed a program called Content Integrated Language Instruction for Adults, incorporating research-based practices in vocabulary and language instruction to facilitate a deep and broad understanding of complex content. A subset of words critical to comprehension of the subject matter is covered in each lesson, using group discussion and extensive writing as well as utilizing contextual clues and doing morphological analysis. We have implemented this curriculum with two cohorts of English Language learners studying U.S. history and civics. There was significant growth in both vocabulary (for intentionally studied words, incidentally encountered words, morphologically complex words) and comprehension of the content.
Report from the Field
Adult Educators Adopting Technology in Their Classrooms Through Innovation, Collaboration, and Inquiry
Jennifer Kobrin, University of Pennsylvania; Peta-Gaye Nicole Bullock, PowerCorpsPHL; Jillian Gierke, Garces Foundation;
Charlie Heil, HIAS PA
Technology is a critical resource in adult education, yet opportunities for ongoing training and support for practitioners are few. This article explores an inquiry-based, collaborative professional development initiative focused on technology adoption, sharing the firsthand accounts of three adult education teachers who participated. Perceived benefits included ways for learners to build English language and reading comprehension skills, and adjustments in teaching practices to encourage increased peer- centered learning. Strategies for technology adoption are also provided through the teachers’ examples, which may be useful for practitioners new to technology integration.
Forum: Serving Learners with Barriers
There Are No Hard-to-Serve Learners, Only Ill-Served Ones
Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University
Since it was signed into law, the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) has been the subject of continuing scrutiny. One commonly shared concern is that the evaluation metrics of the Act (e.g., employment, salary,
etc.) may incentivize programs to work with learners who will more readily meet expected outcomes (Pickard, 2016). Others suggest this concern is misplaced, pointing to the fact that the Act explicitly notes that the models created for State and program evaluation will be adjusted to recognize the priority given to serving students who face significant barriers (Wilson, 2015).
Response to There Are No Hard-to-Serve Learners, Only Ill-Served Ones by Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University
Joni Schwartz, City University of New York, LaGuardia Community College
A decade and a half ago, the community of adult educators to which I belonged called the phenomenon that Jacobson describes in There Are No Hard-to-Serve Learners as “creaming.” This is the practice of choosing to serve certain students, in this case those with high scores on their initial GED® practice test or students with advanced TABE® scores, so that we fulfilled our performance objectives and more easily demonstrated employability. We knew what we were doing. The reasons were economic; we needed to show outcomes that would continue to make our adult education program eligible for funding.
A Pragmatic Look at Hard-to-Serve and Ill-Served
Jeff Zacharakis, Kansas State University
Dr. Jacobson’s analysis of hard to serve is well founded, especially from an academic and theoretical perspective, yet I am left wanting. Is the solution to merely change the language, the terminology of the legislation, or the terminology used by policy makers as well as practitioners? Are these adults hard to serve or ill served? When I first read his essay, I was struck by the quality of the foundational literature used in Jacobson’s analysis, and quite frankly, I not only understood his argument but was also in agreement that the phrase hard to serve was pejorative, reflecting a deficit model. But
as I read it again and again...
Preparing Adult English Language Learners to Write for College and the Workplace
Charles A. MacArthur, University of Delaware
Schaetzel et al. (2019) address the substantial challenges of helping adult English language learners (ELLs) develop the writing knowledge, strategies, and skills required in academic and workplace settings. Reflecting increased demands of the 21st century workplace, recent College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (U.S. Department of Education, 2013) place increased emphasis on academic writing proficiency. Unfortunately, adult education teachers working with ELLs, in general, have not received adequate preparation for teaching writing...
Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide
Margaret Becker Patterson, Research Allies for Lifelong Learning
In its fourth edition, Learning in Adulthood provides foundational information on adult learning as well as new information published since the third edition in 2007. The book, which is nearly 600 pages in length, pulls together a “comprehensive overview and synthesis of what we know about adult learning” (p. x): its context, its learners, what and why they learn, the learning process, new approaches, theory of adult learning, and other relevant issues. The focus is on the needs of the adult learner...
Where Do We Go Now? Adult and Workforce Education Policy Post-2020
Elizabeth A. Roumell, Texas A&M University
In this essay, I argue that our recent pivot toward digital learning, in addition to the social discontent and economic turbulence exacerbated by the pandemic, requires a re-imagining of how we “do” adult and workforce education (AWE) policy. First, I briefly describe the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) policy. Next...
Technology Solutions for Adult Basic Skills Challenges
Using Technology to Help Students Set, Monitor, and Achieve Goals
Anthony Burik, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network
The focus of each Technology Solutions for Adult Basic Skills Challenges column begins with a common challenge facing adult basic skills practitioners. Solutions offered for these challenges, at least in part through the use of technology, include: hardware such as desktop and laptop computers, smartphones, electronic tablets, VR goggles, robots and electronic whiteboards...
Contact: Anthony Burik