Contributing to a Research Agenda for Adult Basic Education
NCSALL's Practioner Dissemination and Research Network (PDRN)
NCSALL REPORT #4
The National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) is committed to conducting and disseminating research that is used to improve the practice of adult basic literacy education. As part of this effort, NCSALL has developed the Practitioner Dissemination and Research Network (PDRN). This network of practitioner leaders builds research connections between practitioners and NCSALL researchers. In the summer of 1997, practitioner leaders conducted focus groups with practitioners in their states. This report summarizes the results of these nine focus groups.
The focus groups were part of NCSALL's work in developing a comprehensive research agenda for the field of adult literacy, one of two research agendas NCSALL is helping develop for the field of adult basic education. In these agendas, the input of practitioners is combined with the input from administrators, policymakers and researchers. This document, however, provides an opportunity to hear directly from practitioners and to learn about the realities of practitioners' work.
The PDRN focus groups gathered data on three related questions:
- What issues concern practitioners in adult basic education?
- How do practitioners see these concerns being addressed by current and future research?
- What do practitioners see as the role of the PDRN in their states?
The concerns of the teachers and program administrators fall into eight categories:
- Isssues of student participation: recruiting, retention, and motivation
- Program and policy issues, particularly program structure and funding
- Curriculum and instruction issues
- Assessment of the students and measurement of performance
- The needs of "special" students, including those with learning difficulties, teens, and the elderly
- Staff issues and professional development
- The impact of adult basic education on students' lives outside the classroom
- Working with a variety of learners in one class
Participants in these groups asked for research that:
- Addressed their areas of concern
- Has implications for practice
- Is conducted in a variety of sites in both rural and urban settings
- Includes practitioners in the research
- Is disseminated in a variety of ways
- Is reported concisely in "user-friendly" language
Practitioners in adult basic education are looking for answers and for stepping stones to improve practice. They expect research to address their concerns and many are eager to work with researchers in designing and carrying out studies that do so.
Full Report Available
To receive a copy of the full report, send a request indicating the report number or title
along with a check or money order in the amount of $5, payable to World Education, to:
44 Farnsworth Street
Boston, MA 02210-122
or call: (617) 482-9485