Rethinking Research: Bridging Theory and Practice in Adult Literacy


Low literacy rates in the US are explained in research based on several factors: from literacy programs’ inability to support educator and tutor professional development to shortcomings in program evaluation such as assessment and accountability measurement error (Comings & Soricone, 2007). Research also determines that low literacy rates are exacerbated by lack of funding assistance for literacy programs and associated high attrition rates of adults participating in programs. One of the prominent problems that emanates from the literature is a scarcity of ‘know-how’ or guidance to design effective instruction (Beder, 1999; Beder & Medina, 2001). Adult literacy research attempts to understand how adults with low literacy learn or essentially, “What works?” for adult literacy instruction. Yet, minimal research has examined how instruction is designed in order to facilitate learning. Instead, research holds to traditional research methods that can only identify component parts of what may contribute to adult literacy learning. Through the pragmatic lens of instructional design and technology (IDT) (Reeves, Harrington, & Oliver, 2005), this presentation will review existing research relative to component skills research and instructional interventions designed for adults with low literacy in Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs. Discussion will extend to leveraging use of the design research methods used in the field of IDT to address shortcomings of existing research. Last, this presentation will explain how a design-based research approach can assist in achieving a better theoretical understanding of instruction and its practical implementation in ABE learning environments in the US (Nelson, 2013).

Author Information
Rebecca Clark-Stallkamp, Virginia Tech, United States

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2021
Stream: Language Development & Literacy

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Virtual Presentation

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon