Also, adult learners with high levels of perceived control—in other words, those who feel they have the power to influence outcomes—may benefit more from feedback than those with lower levels of perceived control.

Using Adaptive, Interactive Learning Environments

Training in complex strategies, metacognition, and self-regulated learning may to some extent be accomplished by well-engineered training materials that guide all learners through the same regimen in a scripted fashion. However, students often need to be guided by knowledgeable tutors, mentors, and computer learning environments that adaptively interact in a way that is sensitive to the characteristics of the individual learner, especially as they encounter complex material.

Indeed, research has shown learning gains through intelligent tutoring systems and other reading systems—involving either computer systems or human tutors—that adapt to the learner. Computer environments have promise because of the complexity of assessing and teaching to the needs of individual learners.

Learning is enhanced by opportunities to practice and use skills for a purpose. Real-world learning is likely to motivate struggling adult learners who are sensitive to the value of their learning experience. And research on learning has shown that the likelihood of transferring a newly learned skill to a new task depends on the similarity between the new task and tasks used for learning. As a result, literacy instruction is most likely to lead to durable, transferable learning if it incorporates real-world activities, tools, and tasks. Still, much needs to be understood about how to design these experiences effectively in the context of literacy development, especially for adults.

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