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Teaching and Learning in Authentic Contexts

This NCSALL Study Circle is based on research conducted by a team led by Victoria Purcell-Gates. Their research examines the relationships between two dimensions of literacy instruction (the degree of authenticity of activities and texts and the degree of student/teacher collaboration) and changes in the literacy practices of students outside the classroom. Readings from the Focus on Basics article “Taking Literacy Skills Home,” from the NCSALL research report Affecting Change in Literacy Practices of Adult Learners: Impact of Two Dimensions of Instruction, and from NCSALL Teaching and Training materials Creating Authentic Materials and Activities for the Adult Literacy Classroom explain the theory on which the research was based, the methodology of the study, and how the results can be used to improve practice in adult education classrooms.

In Session One, the Study Circle group will examine teaching and learning in an authentic context and how the research was conducted.

Session Two includes discussion of the theory of contextualized instruction and how it looks in practice. The group will also review other research that supports this research.

In the final session, Session Three, the group will examine ways that they might implement contextualized teaching in their classes, including ways to better know students’ contexts. Participants will discuss the challenges of using authentic instruction and as well as supports to integrating authentic activities and materials into their classes. In the last part of Session Three, participants will plan actions they will take to make their instruction more contextualized.