Helping Learners Acquire, Retain, and Transfer New
Knowledge and Skills

A number of approaches can help learners retain what they learn and transfer it to new situations. For those who teach adults with low literacy skills, following these guide-lines is especially important for ensuring that new concepts are absorbed.

Choose the appropriate level of difficulty. Selection of learning goals, materials, and tasks should be sensitive to what the student has mastered and be appropriately challenging—not too easy or too difficult, but just right. Consider a text used to help adults learn about a medical procedure: If the text is extremely easy and overlaps perfectly with what the learners already know, then it will not stretch their knowledge beyond what they already knew without it. Neither will the adults gain much medical knowledge if the text is too complex and riddled with technical jargon beyond their understanding. Developing readers need to confront challenging texts that engage them with new and meaningful content, but they also need texts that allow them to practice and further develop the skills they have already begun to acquire.

Present material in a clear and organized format. Adults of all ages benefit from a clear and organized presentation that helps them remember new information. It is important to remove any irrelevant information, even if it is interesting, that could


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