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Focus On Basics

Volume 3, Issue A ::: March 1999

Welcome to Focus on Basics

Dear Reader,

One of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy's (NCSALL) biggest challenges is applying research findings - ours and those of other researchers - to practice, testing them in practice, and disseminating encouraging approaches that arise from this process. We have established a number of mechanisms to do this. In Focus on Basics, we publish research findings in a way that we hope is accessible to teachers, and seek out teachers to write about their experiences applying research to practice. The NCSALL Practitioner Dissemination and Research Network supports representative teachers from 13 states. The teachers choose NCSALL research studies, design teacher research projects to test the implications of the study findings in their own classrooms, and carry out the projects. We hope to publish their findings in Focus on Basics in the coming years.

The NCSALL Adult Multiple Intelligences Study connected research to practice from its inception. A teacher research study, the purpose was to explore the application of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligence theory to the adult basic education classroom. Multiple intelligence (MI) theory, described in an article by Julie Viens, posits that people have eight, or perhaps nine, kinds of intelligence. Over the past decade, hundreds of K-12 teachers have applied this theory with great success in their classrooms, but little application has been made in adult basic education.

After learning about the theory, 10 teachers designed research projects they carried out in their classrooms over the course of two years. While the analysis of the work of the entire group is not yet finished, researcher Silja Kallenbach feels it is not premature to share six themes that have been emerging from this work. Many of the teachers' findings are presented in this issue, too. In the cover story, Martha Jean is candid about the false steps she took turning a theory into practice; her end result, however, convinced her the effort was worth it. Jean Mantzaris explains how she changed her view of career counseling as a result of her experience with MI. Wendy Quiñones and Betsy Cornwell provide evidence of MI as a promising tool to use when working with capable yet resistant students. Diane Paxton's and Meg Costanzo's story explores their experiences with all kinds of assessment and MI. MI theory meant enhancing rather than abandoning familiar practices, write Lezlie Rocka and Terri Coustan in their article.

NCSALL is also experimenting with an electronic discussion list to see how effective it is as a dissemination tool. The Focus on Basics list is a virtual study circle: a place where list members can discuss the ideas and articles published in Focus on Basics, ask questions of the authors, and relate them to their experience in classrooms and programs. If you have access to e-mail, please sign on.

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL