Excerpt from “Learner Variability Is the Rule, Not the Exception by Barbara Pape,” Digital Promis Global, May 21, 2019:
Learner variability is the young person who lives in poverty, or is learning to speak
English and may not yet have the background knowledge to enable comprehension of a reading passage. Or, the student who already has the skills to excel at a pace beyond the curriculum and is bored because traditional methods of instruction do not engage her or meet her needs. It is the student who has experienced trauma in a single event or on a day-to-day basis. Learner variability is the learner whose learning difference, color, ethnicity, or gender makes them susceptible to stereotype threat and low expectations. It’s the learner with working memory, decoding, or
attention challenges who retreats into silence or acts unruly out of fear they will be asked a question they are not yet ready to answer…p. 3
Digital Promise is currently developing a follow-up survey that will provide an even deeper understanding and more context on Learning in the 21st Century.
For more information on learner variability:
The project described in the 3 links below is in regard to recruitment and retention issues that involved focus groups and interviews with 125 adults in 5 states who are eligible to participate in adult education but do not participate, trying to understand the barriers (of all types), motivations, and tech use of these non-participants.
VALUEUSA is a national non-profit organization committed to adult learner involvement and leadership. In 2017 and 2018 the CAPE (Critiquing Adult Participation in Education) research team surveyed the motivations of and conducted group interviews with 135 adults. Adults identified and prioritized deterrents, root causes, and solutions with researchers. Three reports with findings from these data inform adult educators and stakeholders and provide recommendations for outreach and retention.
CAPE Report 1 Deterrents and Solutions
CAPE Report 2 Motivation around Adult Education
CAPE Report 3 Technology Use
Matthew Burke graduated from high school even though he was reading at about the third-grade level. He got a job as a welder but found his lack of reading skills held him back. Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU
This NPR article from 2013 makes a compelling case statement for funding adult education and literacy programs. The topic is still relevant in 2018. The following is an excerpt from the article:
A ‘Double Expense’
People who struggle to read, write and speak English are sentenced to a lifetime of economic challenges, says Stephen Fuller, an economist with George Mason University in Virginia. He says it’s important to have an educated workforce.
“If we fail, it’s a double expense, ’cause the economy isn’t healthy, and we also have increased social services,” he says.
Fuller says that has enormous costs for society. People with low literacy are more likely to need unemployment checks, food stamps and subsidized housing. And they are more likely to end up behind bars.
To read more, click on this link to Adding Up the Costs. The article, the 4th in a series, leads to three other articles related to adult literacy and the challenges adults face in pursuing their educational and workplace dreams.
In this paper, we discuss the design of CAPITAL Words, an educational Android application to help low-literacy adults improve their phonemic awareness. We discuss our design choices concerning iconography, linearity, consistency, robustness, interactivity, and visibility when creating mobile software usable by illiterate users. We conducted a usability study with 11 adult learners at a local literacy center to determine how successfully users are able to interact with our interface. Results show that the majority of our design choices were intuitive for low-literacy adults with prior smartphone experience and highly learnable for inexperienced users, and that users overwhelmingly enjoyed using the app as a learning tool. This suggests that, if users are given a small amount of guidance initially, there is a high likelihood that they will be both willing and able to continue using our app independently to improve their literacy skills.
Designing a Literacy-Based Mobile Application for Adult Learners, Jennifer R. Hill, May 2016, Georgetown University. (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/302074210_Designing_a_Literacy-Based_Mobile_Application_for_Adult_Learners [accessed Sep 6, 2017].
Jobs for the Future provides a link to the final implementation report, which “describes the effect of Accelerating Opportunity (AO) on education and employment outcomes for underprepared adult learners. Designed and led by Jobs for the Future and national partners, AO allowed adults with low basic skills to enroll in integrated career pathways at community and technical colleges.”
New Evidence on Integrated Career Pathways: Final Impact Report for Accelerating Opportunity, Theresa Anderson, Daniel Kuehn, Lauren Eyster, Burt S. Barnow, and Roberth Il Lerman, Urban Institute, 2017.
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) from IES reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education. WWCs goal is to provide educators with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions. The sites focuses on the results from high-quality research to answer the question “What works in education?” Find more information about the WWC: at this link http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/FWW.
Data from the OECD Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies’ Survey of Adult Skills found that 36 million Americans have low literacy skills, nearly 24 million of whom are part of the workforce. In addition, nearly 46 million Americans struggle with numeracy. These skills issues have significant negative impacts on individuals, their families, and their communities. Grounded in evidence and informed by effective and emerging practices, Making Skills Everyone’s Business offers seven strategies that hold great promise for improving the conditions that create and perpetuate poor literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.
Click here to access more information: http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/ovae/2015/02/24/making-skills-everyones-business-report-launch/