Improving
Adult Literacy
Instruction

Options for Practice and Research

Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and
Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy


Alan M. Lesgold and Melissa Welch-Ross, Editors

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                    OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
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Improving Adult Literacy Instruction Options for Practice and Research Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy Alan M. Lesgold and Melissa Welch-Ross, Editors Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Govern- ing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineer- ing, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropri- ate balance. This study was supported by Contract No. ED-08-CO-0142 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education. Any opinions, find- ings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Improving adult literacy instruction : options for practice and research / Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Alan M. Lesgold and Melissa Welch-Ross, Editors, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council of the National Academies. pages cm Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-309-21959-4 (pbk.) — ISBN (invalid) 978-0-309-21960-0 (pdf) 1. Functional literacy—United States. I. Lesgold, Alan M. II. Welch-Ross, Melissa K. III. Title. LC151.N385 2012 302.2’2440973—dc23 2012007109 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2012). Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research. Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy, A.M. Lesgold and M. Welch-Ross, Eds. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Acad- emy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding en- gineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineer- ing programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is presi- dent of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Insti- tute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sci- ences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Coun- cil is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON LEARNING SCIENCES: FOUNDATIONS AND APPLICATIONS TO ADOLESCENT AND ADULT LITERACY ALAN M. LESGOLD (Chair), School of Education, University of Pittsburgh KAREN S. COOK, Department of Sociology, Stanford University AYDIN Y. DURGUNOĞLU, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Duluth ARTHUR C. GRAESSER, Psychology Department, University of Memphis STEVE GRAHAM, Special Education and Literacy, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University NOEL GREGG, Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders and Psychology Department, University of Georgia, Athens JOYCE L. HARRIS, College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin GLYNDA A. HULL, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley MAUREEN W. LOVETT, Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto DARYL F. MELLARD, School of Education, University of Kansas ELIZABETH B. MOJE, School of Educational Studies, University of Michigan KENNETH PUGH, Haskins Laboratories, New Haven CHRIS SCHATSCHNEIDER, Department of Psychology, Florida State University MARK S. SEIDENBERG, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison ELIZABETH A.L. STINE-MORROW, Department of Education and Psychology, University of Illinois MELISSA WELCH-ROSS, Study Director PATRICIA MORISON, Associate Executive Director, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences MARY ANN KASPER, Senior Program Assistant v

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Acknowledgments The Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy was established to review evidence on learning and literacy to develop a roadmap for research and practice to strengthen adult literacy education in the United States. This report is the culmination of a 36-month study by the 15 experts from diverse disciplines appointed to carry out this charge. First, we would like to thank the Na- tional Institute for Literacy (NIFL) and the U.S. Department of Education for their sponsorship of the study and for turning to the National Research Council (NRC) for help in synthesizing the available research to improve literacy instruction for adults and youth in the United States. Over the course of the study, committee members and staff benefited from discussions and presentations by individuals who brought a range of perspectives and expertise to three fact-finding meetings. The first meeting allowed us to gain a better understanding of the study charge and the work before us. We heard from experts in adult literacy education to understand adult literacy levels, the literacy needs and challenges of diverse popula- tions, and recent large-scale adult literacy interventions. The invited experts were Judy Alamprese, Abt Associates, Inc.; Alisa Belzer, Rutgers Univer- sity; Daphne Greenberg, Georgia State University; Mark Kutner, American Institutes of Research; T. Scott Murray, DataAngel Policy Research, Inc.; Dolores Perin, Teachers College, Columbia University; and John Strucker, World Education, Inc. At the second meeting, the committee heard evidence about cognitive and neural models of reading comprehension, genetic and environmental vii

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viii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS influences on reading, the neurobiology of literacy in a second language, maturational effects on cognition and learning, the state of adult literacy assessment, and relations between oral language and literacy. Invited par- ticipants included Elena Grigorenko, Yale University; Arturo Hernandez, University of Houston; Denise Park, University of Texas, Dallas; John Sabatini, ETS; Paul van den Broek, University of Leiden and University of Minnesota; and Gloria Waters, Boston University. The third meeting included a diverse set of presenters who provided re- searcher and practitioner perspectives about factors that affect persistence, motivation, and engagement for learners from late adolescence through adulthood and that are amenable to being influenced by instruction. Mem- bers also sought information about the cognitive and social factors that influence progress with literacy among English language learners. Invited experts included John Comings, World Education, Inc.; Edward L. Deci, University of Rochester; Ruth Kanfer, Georgia Tech; Judith Kroll, Penn- sylvania State University; Nonie Lesaux, Harvard University; Steve Reder, Portland State University; Dan Wagner, University of Pennsylvania; and Heide Spruck Wrigley, Literacywork International. Our work was also advanced by the contributions of able consultants who wrote papers that were invaluable to our discussions and development of report text: Eric Anderman, Ohio State University; Alisa Belzer, Rutgers University; Mary Ellen Cushman, Michigan State University; Edward L. Deci; Elena Grigorenko; W. Norton Grubb, University of California, Berke- ley; Ruth Kanfer; Judith Kroll; Dolores Perin; Amy Stornaiuolo, University of California, Berkeley; Paul van den Broek; Lalitha Vasudevan, Teach- ers College, Columbia University; Kari L. Woods, University of Kansas; and Heide Spruck Wrigley. Francisco Rivera-Batiz of the Department of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, was a member of the committee until other commitments required him to step down in November of 2009; we thank him for the insights and expertise he brought to the committee on issues of economics and education involving immigrant and minority populations. We thank Peggy McCardle and Brett Miller. who facilitated access to the results of studies funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the U.S. Department of Education while the stud- ies were in press. We also thank those who assisted committee members with literature searches or background research, including NRC staff Julie Shuck and Matthew von Hendy, as well as Mary Ann Kasper, who ably arranged logistics for members and meetings and assisted with manuscript preparation. The committee is grateful for the guidance and support of Patricia Morison, associate executive director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE). We thank Chris McShane,

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ix ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Yvonne Wise, and Eugenia Grohman of the DBASSE Office of Reports and Communication for editing the report. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the NRC. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical com- ments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Patricia Alexander, College of Education, University of Maryland; Roger Azevedo, Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, McGill University; Virginia Berninger, College of Education, University of Wash- ington; Larry Condelli, American Institutes for Research; Laurie E. Cutting, Departments of Special Education and Psychology, Radiology, and Pedi- atrics, Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center; Morton Ann Gernsbacher, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Susan R. Goldman, Department of Psychology and Education, University of Illinois at Chicago; Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, School of Social Work, University of Southern California; Susan Kemper, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas; Richard E. Mayer, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara; Larry J. Mikulecky, Department of Education, Indiana University; Timothy Shanahan, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illi- nois at Chicago; Catherine Snow, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; Sharon Vaughn, Department of Human Develop- ment, College of Education, University of Texas at Austin; Dan Wagner, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania; and Christina Zarcadoolas, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health Lit- eracy, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Paul R. Sackett, Depart- ment of Psychology, University of Minnesota, and Johanna T. Dwyer, Tufts University School of Medicine and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Frances Stern Nutrition Center, Tufts Medical Center, and Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts Univer- sity. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully

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x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Alan M. Lesgold, Chair Melissa Welch-Ross, Study Director Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy

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Contents Summary 1 Recommendations, 5 1 Introduction 8 Literacy in the United States, 8 Study Charge, Scope, and Approach, 15 Conceptual Framework and Approach to the Review of Evidence, 15 Study Scope, 19 Organization of the Report, 21 2 Foundations of Reading and Writing 24 Social, Cultural, and Neurocognitive Mechanisms of Literacy Development, 25 Types of Text, 26 Literacy Tools, 27 Literacy Activities, 28 Teacher Knowledge, Skills, and Beliefs, 29 Neurocognitive Mechanisms, 30 Reading, 31 Decoding, 34 Vocabulary, 35 Fluency, 37 Reading Comprehension, 39 xi

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xii CONTENTS Writing, 45 Components and Processes of Writing, 46 Writing Instruction, 50 Neurobiology of Reading and Writing Development and Difficulties, 54 Neurobiology of Reading, 54 Neurobiology of Writing, 55 Implications for Instruction, 56 Instruction for Struggling Readers and Writers, 57 Decontextualized Interventions, 57 Principles of Instruction for Struggling Learners, 58 Reading and Writing Across the Life Span, 64 Summary and Discussion, 67 3 Literacy Instruction for Adults 70 Contexts for Literacy Learning, 71 Adult Education Programs, 71 Literacy Instruction in Adult Education Programs, 77 Developmental Education Courses in Colleges, 81 Instructional Practices and Outcomes: State of the Research, 84 Assumptions and Sources of Evidence, 84 Orientation to the Findings, 86 Adults in Basic and Secondary Education Programs, 86 Topics for Future Study from Adult Literacy Research, 92 Collaborative Learning, 92 Contextualized Instruction, 93 Instructional Materials, 94 Writing Instruction, 95 Funds of Knowledge and Authentic Learning Experiences, 96 Social, Psychological, and Functional Outcomes, 96 Underprepared Postsecondary Students, 97 Summary and Directions for Research, 99 4 Principles of Learning for Instructional Design 106 The Development of Expertise, 107 Supporting Attention, Retention, and Transfer, 109 Present Material in a Clear and Organized Format, 109 Use Multiple and Varied Examples, 110 Present Material in Multiple Modalities and Formats, 110 Teach in the Zone of Proximal Development, 111 Space Presentations of New Material, 113 Test on Multiple Occasions, Preferably with Spacing, 113 Ground Concepts in Perceptual-Motor Experiences, 113

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xiii CONTENTS Supporting Generation of Content and Reasoning, 115 Encourage the Learner to Generate Content, 115 Encourage the Generation of Explanations, Substantive Questions, and the Resolution of Contradictions, 116 Encourage the Learner to Construct Ideas from Multiple Points of View and Different Perspectives, 117 Complex Strategies, Critical Thinking, Inquiry, and Self-Regulated Learning, 118 Structure Instruction to Develop Effective Use of Complex Strategies, 118 Combine Complex Strategy Instruction with Learning of Content, 120 Feedback, 121 Accurate and Timely Feedback Helps Learning, 121 Qualitative Feedback Is Better for Learning Than Test Scores and Error Flagging, 122 Adaptive and Interactive Learning Environments, 123 Adaptive Learning Environments Foster Understanding in Complex Domains, 123 Interactive Learning Environments Facilitate Learning, 124 Learning Is Facilitated in Genuine and Coherent Learning Environments, 125 Learning Is Influenced by Motivation and Emotion, 125 Summary and Directions for Research, 126 5 Motivation, Engagement, and Persistence 130 The Psychology of Motivation and Learning, 131 Self-Efficacy, 134 Intrinsic Motivation, 143 Social, Contextual, and Systemic Mediators of Persistence, 151 Formal School Structures and Persistence, 151 Cultural and Linguistic Differences, 152 Social Relationships and Interactions, 153 Potentially Negative Effects of Stereotype, 155 Social and Systemic Supports for and Barriers to Persistence, 156 Directions for Research, 158 6 Technology to Promote Adult Literacy 162 Classes of Technologies for Learning, 165 How Technologies Affect Learning, 166 Digital Tools for Practicing Skills, 169 Summary and Directions for Research, 177

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xiv CONTENTS 7 Learning, Reading, and Writing Disabilities 179 Learning Disabilities, 180 Reading Disabilities, 182 Writing Disabilities, 187 Developing Brain Systems in Struggling Readers, 192 Brain Structure and Function, 193 Brain Plasticity, 196 Accommodations to Support Literacy Learning, 198 Reading Accommodations, 199 Writing Accommodations, 201 Summary and Directions for Research, 203 8 Language and Literacy Development of English Language Learners 206 Component Literacy Skills of English Language Learners, 209 Influences on Language and Literacy in a Second Language, 210 First Language Knowledge and Education Level, 210 English Language Proficiency, 214 Age, 216 Aptitude for a Second Language, 217 Reading and Learning Disabilities, 218 Cultural Knowledge and Background, 218 Approaches to Second Language Literacy Instruction, 220 Integration of Explicit Instruction and Implicit Learning of Language and Literacy, 221 Development of Language and Knowledge for Learning and Reading Comprehension, 225 Access to Language and Literacy Practice Outside Classrooms, 227 Leveraging Knowledge in the First Language, When Available, 227 Integrated Multimodal Instruction, 228 Writing, 228 Affective Aspects of Learning and Instruction, 230 Assessment, 230 Summary and Directions for Research, 233 9 Conclusions and Recommendations 236 Conclusions, 238 Adult Learners and Learning Environments, 238 Principles of Effective Literacy Instruction, 240 English Language Learners, 244 Assessment, 246

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xv CONTENTS Technology, 248 Adult Literacy Instruction: State of the Evidence, 250 Recommendations, 251 Research Design, 254 Priorities for Basic and Applied Research, 255 Priorities for Translational Science, 256 Large-Scale Data Collection and Information Gathering, 259 Concluding Thoughts: Leadership and Partnership, 259 References and Bibliography 263 Appendixes A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff 385 B Literacy in a Digital Age 392 Adult Literacy Practices and Proficiencies, 394 Adults’ Engagement with Information and Communication Technologies, 397 Instructional Practices and Learning Environments, 399 Future Research, 401 References, 401 C Interventions to Develop the Component Literacy Skills of Low-Literate Adults 407 A. Study Populations and Sample Characteristics, 408 B. Intervention Practices, Intensity, Duration, and Attrition Rates, 410 C. Study Instruments by Measurement Construct by Study, 412 References, 416 D Search Procedures and Reviewed Studies of Adult Literacy Instruction* 417 *Appendix D is not printed in this volume but is available online. Go to http://www.nap. edu/catalog.php?record_id=13242.

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