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2007 Workshop Presentations and Notes

 

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Supporting learning: Literacy, numeracy and ESOL curriculum development from across the world: meeting the needs of adult learners

Organisation/Project title: Victoria University (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), National Centre for the Study of Learning and Literacy and Tribal CTAD

Workshop leaders: Lynne Fitzpatrick and Liz Davidson (Victoria University, Australia) with response from Steve Reder (National Centre for the Study of Learning and Literacy) & a representative from Tribal CTAD

The workshop will begin by looking at curriculum development structures and processes  in Australia. Curriculum development in the adult sector occurs within a national quality vocational education and training framework which includes vocational, workplace, and community outcomes. The presenters work within this framework to develop adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL curriculum which enables learners to move between contexts to engage with vocational training and further education, the community, the world of work, and lifelong learning. Collaborative processes ensure input from learners, teachers, and other key stakeholders about education, vocational and community needs. National and international research into current thinking on literacy, numeracy and ESOL and changes in how, why, what and when we read and write (e.g. ICT, multimodal texts) underpins curriculum development.

Models of curriculum development will be further discussed by speakers from the US, UK and Brazil each illustrating how different models could be used to support learners.

The session will close with an opportunity for the participants and audience to reflect on synergies and differences in the various contexts.

View Lynne Fitzpatrick & Liz Davidson's Presentation
View Flyer
View Certificate I in General Education for Adults
View ESOL - Exit and Entry Levels Compared
View Module VBN465
View Module VBQU136


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Teacher education as praxis: a case for practitioner research

Organisation/Project title: University of Wolverhampton and University of Nottingham

Workshop leaders: Alex Kendall (University of Wolverhampton) and Margaret Herrington (University of Nottingham)

In this session we share the outcomes and recommendations of a practitioner research project in the Black Country in the West Midlands of England. The project was funded by the Black Country Learning and Skills Council and aimed to fund adult literacy practitioners across the region to explore the experience of implementing the core curriculum.

We go on to consider the place of research based enquiry in the literacy teacher education (both at the initial and professional formation stages. Whilst such reflexive work may be marginalised by the discourse of standards that dominates the framework and its implementation we restate the value of practitioner research in informing the social practices of teacher education an in turn the wider field of literacy studies.

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NRDC Effective practice in inclusive adult numeracy teaching

Organisation/Project title: King's College London / National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

Workshop leaders: Diana Coben (King's College London) and Jon Swain (National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy)

This workshop reports on the NRDC project 'Effective practice in inclusive adult numeracy teaching' and two follow-up projects, all with teacher-researchers.

We'll raise questions about what 'effective practice' means in different Skills for Life numeracy contexts. We'll also discuss teachers' and learners' expectations,  and other issues which may militate against attempts by policy makers to change teachers' practices.

The 'Effective practice' project investigated 'what works' in Skills for Life Numeracy classes.

The main message from the project is that no 'one size fits all'. Teachers need sound subject and pedagogical knowledge as well as subject-specific pedagogical knowledge in order to cater for the diversity of learners.

In the follow-up projects, we consulted with practitioners and drew on research in other NRDC projects, including the Maths4Life 'Thinking Through Mathematics' project, to produce guidance on effective practice and materials on using calculators (the 'Bestimation' project).

These are available as pdfs on the NRDC website.

The project report is published as: Coben, D., Brown, M., Rhodes, V., Swain, J., Ananiadou, K., & Brown, P., with J. Ashton, D. Holder, S. Lowe, C. Magee, S. Nieduszynska & V. Storey (2007). Effective Teaching and Learning: Numeracy. London: NRDC.  The pdf is available at URL: http://www.nrdc.org.uk/publications_details.asp?ID=86

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See Me: Use of Personal Narrative in the Classroom
From Concrete to Abstract: The Benefits of Using the Guided Reflective Writing Technique with Adult Literacy Students

Organisation/Project title: RiPAL BC (Research in Practice Adult Literacy British Columbia, Canada)

Workshop leaders: Paula Davies and Leonne Beebe - RiPAL  (Research in Practice Adult Literacy)  British Columbia, Canada

Paula Davies teaches English in the upgrading department at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC., Canada. She has also been involved with practitioner research.  Her latest research work examines the use of personal narrative in the classroom to enhance the learning experience. In this workshop she will present her findings which suggest that the use of oral student personal narratives is a valuable teaching strategy because it facilitates the students' understanding of specific course content and it enhances their engagement with classmates, class activities and course content as well as creates a classroom community.  These developments in turn enrich the learning experience because they allow students to 'be seen'.  When the students, their lives, their opinions, their learning needs are seen by the instructor, by themselves and by each other, their learning is deepened and enriched

Leonne Beebe, teaches adult literacy/numeracy classes at the University College of the Fraser Valley, Chilliwack BC., Canada. She utilized her classroom teaching experiences and her students' learning experiences as the source for this research project.  

Interested in the teaching/learning process, Leonne searched for an educational tool that would allow her encourage her students to self- evaluate their learning process/progress, and at the same time, involve them in improving their writing skills. 

Although much has been researched and published about the beneficial use of reflective writing in terms of self-evaluation with upper level university students, there was a scarcity of research studying the use of reflective writing with adult literacy students who were learning to write sentences and paragraphs.

As a result, Leonne developed/researched the use of the 'Guided Reflective Writing Technique', a tool, which guides students in reflecting about 'what they thought, 'how they felt' and 'what they learned' at the end of each class. The students' written answers formed the core individual writing program as well as the source for student data. Leonne will focus on the benefits of using this guided reflective writing technique' as an educational tool for both the students and the teacher (report is downloadable from http://ripal.literacy.bc.ca).

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Effective Learning for Adults with Learning Difficulties 
Engaging carers and supporters in the literacies learning process

Organisation/Project title: Communities Scotland / University of Strathclyde

Workshop leaders: John Leavey (Communities Scotland) and Alastair Wilson (University of Strathclyde)

We will describe an action research project in which the researcher worked with tutors in a variety of different contexts (workplace, college, home etc) to explore a more effective way of supporting learning. The project set out to record the differences in learning achievement and to reflect on the process of carer engagement and the issues that arose for all participants. The intention was to draw useful lessons that would inform others seeking to develop more effective learning opportunities.

Background - a brief discussion of the practice issues that led to the research
The Proposition was that that new learning will be more effectively absorbed, remembered and transferred if the skills can be practised, and the knowledge and understanding can be made explicit through the normal everyday activities of the learner.

Description of the research methods and findings, illustrated with extracts from the DVD
Tutors encouraged literacies learners' carers and supporters to make straightforward but conscious efforts, first to make connections between daily life and the learning programme, and then to find occasions for practising and demonstrating new skills. 

Changes in learners' abilities, attitudes and behaviours were recorded with the support of a researcher and interviews with learners, carers and tutors explored the implications of this way of working.  The research provided a virtual research environment (VRE) to enable tutors and researchers to keep in touch and build a bank of recordings, discussions and resources.

Discussion of possibilities for dissemination: target audiences, training suggestions, etc.
The research will produce a report and a DVD that will be used as a training and discussion resource.  Research findings will be also used to raise awareness among the staff and managers in related disciplines.

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Adult education through socio-economi empowerment: Lessons from a UNDP Project in Malawi

Organisation/Project title: Sustainable socio-economic empowerment for poverty reduction (SSEEP), Ministry of Women and Child Development

Workshop leaders: Chris Dimadzi (SSEEP)

This workshop shares experiences from an innovative programme designed to provide adult education through social economic empowerment currently being piloted in Malawi.  The essence of the programme is to provide opportunities for life long learning, skills training, income generation and enterprise development as an entry point to literacy provisioning.  The programme is motivated by the realisation that on account of its very pervasiveness, poverty in and of itself, excludes people from participating in adult literacy classes, the very vehicle which is supposed to emancipate them from poverty.  The programme therefore thrives on engaging the community in the identification and removal of encumbrances that preclude them from attending literacy classes.

The lessons emerging from the programme are that relative to the traditional literacy programmes, which tend to delay the benefits of literacy to the few who managed to reach graduation, SSEEP, by its very integrated nature, offers immediate and ocular benefits, which are far reaching and on going.  The programme has therefore been embraced by the communities as affording them opportunities for participating fully and immediately in the economic, social and development affairs.  Above all, higher retention rates have been registered among the learners relative to the traditional literacy classes.  The major challenge though is to sustain learner participation in the event of non fulfilment of livelihood demands beyond the capacity of the programme.  The workshop concludes with a discussion on the future prospects of programmes of this nature and adult education in Malawi and developing countries in general.

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Supporting Literacy Tutors to Develop the Relationship between Theory and Practice

Organisation/Project title: Waterford Institute of Technology / National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

Workshop leaders: Geraldine Mernagh (Waterford Institute of Technology) and Helen Casey (National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy)

This workshop will focus on linking theory and practice in teacher education programmes.

Geraldine Mernagh, Waterford Institute of Technology, will share findings from a research project which looked at how tutors understand the meaning of literacy, and how this is mapped onto their practice. This means exploring the relationship between how tutors think and talk about their work, and how they then put this into practice.  This can be examined from two perspectives. Tutors come on our courses and are often very rich in practical experience but feel disconnected from the theory underpinning their work, and are eager to make that connection. Conversely, during the course, practitioners are exposed to a range of theories of literacy and are interested in discovering how these could be implemented in practice. We are interested in how and tutors make connections between theory and practice, and the way in which theory and practice can equally well be disconnected.

Helen Casey, NRDC, drawing on recent NRDC teacher education research and development projects will discuss ways in which teacher education partnerships and providers can meet some of the challenges of ensuring that the practical and theoretical elements of their courses are fully integrated.

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E-Learning solutions for basic education. Unlimited possibilities - possible limitations? Experience and hands-on samples from a large scale implementation

Organisation/Project title: Avallain Enhancing Education / Tribal CTAD

Workshop leaders: Ralf Kellershohn and Ignatz Heinz -  Avallain Enhancing Education / Barry Brooks -  Tribal CTAD

Literacy is the door to the world. But more and more of the pathways and doors become digital as internet or computer based applications become more and more common in the work place and everyday life. Using internet based learning material is a great possibility to combine literacy learning with the acquirement of IT-skills.

E-learning allows working at individual time, location and pace - but experience shows that a combination of presence and online learning is most effective. How can we develop supportive solutions helping the learners and the trainers? How can we integrate e-learning in efficiently in course work? What are the possible limitations (e.g. infrastructure, trainers, lack of ICT skills or general retention)?

In this workshop we'll demonstrate latest examples of e-learning for basic education from a project with 15.000+ regular learners and discuss possibilities and limitations of e-learning in basic education. As a more pragmatic experiment we will use tools to create interactive e-literacy material together with the participants.

Who we are: The Swiss company Avallain developed the German E-Learning-Portal 'www.ich-will-schreiben-lernen.de' for adult literacy learners and is currently expanding the online-portal to cover numeracy and scenario based learning for job related skills.

Tribal enjoys a national and international reputation for work in basic skills and Skills for Life. We developed the national standards for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and national core curricula for adult literacy and numeracy. Our own 'Target Skills' product suite is the market leader, and our basic skills products are now used in more than 350 further education colleges in the UK.

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Improving Teaching and Learning for Adult LLN Learners through Formative Assessment

Organisation/Project title: BlueSky Learning Ltd / Critical Insight, New Zealand

Workshop leaders: Jay Derrick - BlueSky Learning / Alison Sutton - Critical Insight

Formative assessment, which refers to frequent, interactive assessments of learner progress to identify learning needs and shape teaching, has become a prominent issue in education reform.  A 2005 OECD study, Formative Assessment: Improving Teaching and Learning in Secondary Classroom, found that when practiced systematically, formative assessment can lead to higher levels of student achievement, greater equity of learning outcomes, and the development of learning-to-learn skills.  

The OECD decided to follow up the 2005 study by exploring how formative assessment might improve teaching and learning for adult language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) learners - the population which benefits least from lifelong learning opportunities. The study now underway incorporates findings from case studies in adult LLN programmes, country background reports describing assessment policies and structures, and reviews of related research from different linguistic areas (English, French, German and Spanish).    

Jay Derrick from the UK and Alison Sutton from New Zealand, contributing experts to the OECD project, will report on results of the research and common challenges faced by policy officials and practitioners. They will provide an in-depth view of English-language research, insights from the French, German and Spanish literature, and an agenda for future research. Alison will also briefly describe a possible approach to formative assessment using an online assessment tool that has been used successfully in schools in New Zealand. During the workshop participants will have the opportunity to discuss the value of and issues involved in such an approach, and to share their own views and experiences.

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Effective Practices in FLLN Learning and Teaching: International Perspectives
NRDC /Family Learning: Effective Practices in Learning and Teaching
University of Bremen/First steps on family literacy in Germany

Organisation/Project title: University of Sheffield / University of Bremen

Workshop leaders: Kate Pahl and Greg Brooks - University of Sheffield / Dr. Sven Nickel - University of Bremen

This workshop will present the key findings from a two year NRDC FLLN research and development project, funded by CfBT.  It will focus on the first phase of the study, an international meta-study into effective FLLN practices.  FLLN programmes from the US, Canada, South Africa, Turkey, and others were examined as part of the meta-study for the NRDC study by directors and researchers from the University of Sheffield.  The presentation will focus on the values, history, definitions, typologies and rationales associated with FLLN and, drawing on recent research into families, literacy, language and numeracy, consider the current context for FLLN, and present some of the findings from the meta-study of international practice that can help illuminate effective practice.

Following on from this, Dr Nickel will make a presentation on the FLLN environment in Germany.  His presentation will focus on developments in what is an emerging FLLN programme in Hamburg.

View Kate Pahl & Greg Brookes Presentation
View Sven Nickel Presentation

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Training young people to work as community cultural agents
Literacy among youth: great trends and singular life trajectories in Brazil

Organisation/Project title: Acao Educativa, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Workshop leaders: Vera Masagćo Ribeiro - Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and Antonio Augusto Batista

We will discuss literacy practices of young people based on a national survey carried out in Brazil and on some results of PISA (Program for International Students Assessment).  We will focus the continuities and contradictions among results regarding performance in literacy tests and those regarding attitudes and practices reported by surveys respondents. Following this, data collected in a case study of a youth group of community agents, dwellers of poor districts of a large Brazilian city, will be presented for debate. The trajectories taken by the subjects to overcome their social exclusion and achieve a new stage of participation and cultural action will be highlighted. For many, adherence to reading practices represents a landmark in constructing a new identity, sometimes in opposition to practices and expectations of their families and sometimes as a form of giving continuity to their family history.

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From The Ground Up: A Research-in-Practice Approach to Evaluation

Organisation/Project title: University of British Columbia and RiPAL-BC / Northwest Community College, Canada

Workshop leaders: Marina Niks - University of British Columbia and RiPAL-BC / Dee McRae - Northwest Community College, Canada

The call for increased accountability and results has permeated all areas in the Canadian public sector.  Community-based programs need to be able to demonstrate their success in terms of the outcomes and results they bring about. This workshop will describe innovative approaches taken in the literacy and health fields on program evaluation in British Columbia, Canada.

The workshop will focus on an innovative and inclusive approach to Adult Literacy program evaluation that seeks to produce a toolkit for outcome-oriented evaluation of programs that is useful to practitioners, learners, funders and policy-makers; flexible enough to accommodate the diversity among literacy programs; and rigorous in its approach to outcomes assessment.  RiPAL-BC is facilitating dialogue among stakeholders, training practitioners and supporting them as they develop and test tools to collect data to evaluate their programs.  Programs are testing these tools across the province.

Through a hands-on process, Dee will guide the audience as they learn about and have a chance to explore the tools developed by practitioners in five pilot sites.  Marina will discuss the results of the testing process and discuss the challenges as well as the successes of the project.

View Presentation
View Adult Goal Progress MP
View Adult Goal Progress OMF
View Adult Goal Progress Tool
View Community Development MP
View Community Development OMF
View Community Development Tools
View Group Learning MP
View Group Learning OMF
View Group Learning Tools
View Reflective Practice MP
View Reflective Practice OMF
View Reflective Practice Tools
View Volunteer Tutors MP
View Volunteer Tutors OMF
View Volunteer Tutors Tools

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NRDC Research Project: What is the impact of the Skills for Life infrastructure on learners?

Organisation/Project title: University of Sheffield and Lancaster University / NRDC Research Project -Study of the Impact of the Skills for Life learning infrastructure on learners (Qualitative Strand)

Workshop leaders: Pam Cole - University of Sheffield and Yvon Appleby - Lancaster University

As part of a 3 year NRDC research project we have been looking at the impact of the SFL infrastructure on learners. Learners do not themselves engage directly with implementing the policy, the strategy or the infrastructure, however they are greatly affected by them, as these influence what basic skills learning will be available nationally.  The infrastructure therefore shapes delivery and thus learners' experiences and progress.

Skills for Life has brought about major changes in adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL provision and entitlement in England. Our findings, based on over 500 learner and nearly 200 stakeholder interviews, reveal the complexity of what it aimed to do, and how it has worked out in practice for some learners. We follow how its range and reach have changed over time as the strategy and implementation of the infrastructure have responded and adapted to ongoing policy shifts.  The consequences of these changes, which are beneficial as well as challenging, raises issues for practice and for learners which will be discussed in the session.

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NRDC Project: Voices on the Page & the why, what and how of writing: a student-led approach to developing writing in adult literacy classes

Organisation/Project title: NRDC Project: Voices on the Page / Voices on the Page & the why, what and how of writing: a student-led approach to developing writing in adult literacy classes

Workshop leaders: Samantha Duncan - City and Islington College and Sue Grief - National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

As part of a 3 year NRDC research project we have been looking at the impact of the SFL infrastructure on learners. Learners do not themselves engage directly with implementing the policy, the strategy or the infrastructure, however they are greatly affected by them, as these influence what basic skills learning will be available nationally.  The infrastructure therefore shapes delivery and thus learners' experiences and progress.

Skills for Life has brought about major changes in adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL provision and entitlement in England. Our findings, based on over 500 learner and nearly 200 stakeholder interviews, reveal the complexity of what it aimed to do, and how it has worked out in practice for some learners. We follow how its range and reach have changed over time as the strategy and implementation of the infrastructure have responded and adapted to ongoing policy shifts.  The consequences of these changes, which are beneficial as well as challenging, raises issues for practice and for learners which will be discussed in the session.

View Presentation
View Criteria
View Collaborative Writing Notes
View Writing Voices Workshop, Discussion 1
View Writing Voices Workshop, Discussion 2

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Stepping Stones: Progression to Level 2 during Adulthood

Organisation/Project title: Institute of Education and National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

Workshop leaders: Ricardo Sabates /Augustin De Coulon

The 2005 White Paper on 'Skills: Getting on in business, getting on at work' highlights the need to change the focus from a 'job for life' to 'employability for life' (DfES 2005, para. 3). It is argued that promoting lifelong learning is a social challenge as well as an economic one, as a more educated workforce will lead to broader social changes, such as reduced crime and better health.

The focus of this workshop is on progression to level 2 qualifications, which is equivalent to secondary schooling, during adulthood.  The workshop draws from recent quantitative analyses from the UK cohort studies and from the British Household Panel Survey to investigate the characteristics of adults who progress to level 2 from a baseline of no qualifications and the pathways followed by these individuals. These studies takes a lifecourse developmental perspective, observing and describing the naturally occurring patterns of progress and progression in adult learning.

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Learning for Empowerment Through Training in Ethnographic-style Research at Institute of Education, Kings College London, University of East Anglia

A report on a teacher training project in South Asia directed towards teachers teaching adults in culturally socially and economically sensitive ways

Organisation/Project title: Institute of Education, University of London / King's College London

Workshop leaders: Dave Baker - Institute of Education, University of London and Brian Street - King's College London

This session will be consist of a report on a recent project in South Asia which sought to train teachers of literacy and numeracy to adults to be culturally socially and economically sensitive to their learners through the use of ethnographic approaches. It has long been orthodoxy among adult educators that those who teach adults need to take into account the existing knowledge, practices, perceptions and expectations of the learners. This is true at both central level where curricula and teaching-learning materials are developed and at local level where adult teacher/facilitator meets adult learners. The problem has been how to train adult educators in appropriate ways to discover the existing epistemologies and aspirations of the adult learners. In the session we will outline such a training programme using ethnographic approaches to discovering the existing numeracy and literacy practices of dalit women learners in a rural part of India. It is intended to report on the project in part by looking at the literacy and numeracy practices of participants in the session.

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View Street, Rogers and Baker's Convergence

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Designing, Implementing and Using an Evaluation: The experience of 'Brasil Alfabetizado'

Organisation/Project title: Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA)

Workshop leaders:  Joćo Pedro Azevedo

The evaluation of social programs is increasingly becoming commonplace among policy and decision makers in developed and developing countries. However, more often than not, programmes are the focus of several independent evaluations, in which the design and implementation do not foster the complementarities among the different studies. The result are a number of analysis and reports which provide limited support to one another, given that the sample, period, instruments and methods used are not comparable. In addition, such design does not allow for economies of scale, in particular on the sample design and fieldwork, the latter, by far the most expensive stage of any evaluation.  This workshop will drawn from the recent experience of  the Brazilian National Literacy Programme evaluation to illustrate how an integrated research agenda, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, and existing (i.e. national census, national household surveys, administrative records, functional illiteracy tests) and original data sources (i.e. longitudinal survey of 1,000 program participants, 100 teachers and 100 program coordinators),  can substantially increase the usefulness of an evaluation. The workshop will focus on the findings of the three main areas of the evaluation, namely, the programme delivery, the programme demand, and the cognitive impact of the programme and its main determinants.

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Making the employees participate
Literacy courses in enterprises - critical factors on the way to success

Organisation/Project title: Vox, Norwegian Institute for Adult Learning, an agency of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, Oslo, Norway

Workshop leaders: Kirsten Waarli

This presentation is built on experience from reading and writing initiatives in eight Norwegian enterprises, all of which have been given support from the Norwegian government through the Programme for Basic Competence in Working Life. The programme will be presented briefly in the workshop.

Vox, the Norwegian Institute for Adult Learning, have studied the process that has taken place in the companies from the point when the decision of initiating workplace based training is made and up to the point when courses actually start. We have tried to identify the success criteria that will allow the training to start off in a positive manner as well as the possible pitfalls. 

We have found several factors and certain requirements that seem to be fundamental in order to ensure a positive basis for a good participation rate in competence improvement measures. This workshop will focus particularly on one of them: The collaboration between various stakeholders in the planning process. The reason why the planning of the training needs to be broad and comprehensive process will be explained and the different roles and areas of responsibility in the planning process will be discussed. Other important points in the presentation will deal with the founding of the training among employees and in the management, motivation and information work, mapping routines and the role of education providers. 

The Programme for Basic Competence in Working Life is part of the efforts to build a national system to strengthen basic competence among adults in Norway. Vox, the Norwegian Institute for Adult Learning, is in charge of the programme.

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Models of embedded teaching and learning form England and Australia

Organisation/Project title: Australian Council of Literacy / National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

Workshop leaders: Margaret McHugh - Australian Council of Literacy / Helen Casey - National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

This workshop will include an account of a successful model for embedding literacy with vocational training initiated in Western Australia and also a discussion of recent research into embedded teaching and learning carried out by NRDC in England. 

Margaret McHugh, Australian Council of Literacy, will foreground the policy tension between Human Capital and Social Capital constructs and analyse the impact of the dominant construct (Human Capital) on educational practice within adult literacy in the Australian context.   While there have been positive outcomes of integrating literacy delivery with vocational training over the last decade and a half, constructing literacy as an exclusive concern of the vocational training sector may be self-limiting if we want to explore new ways to support literacy learning 'engagements' within in other social policy domains or as activities that people enjoy. 

Helen Casey, NRDC, will present findings from the NRDC research which both underlines the potential positive impact of embedded teaching and learning and points to some of the factors which providers need to take into account when designing and delivering such programmes.

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Immigration and Adult ESOL in the USA: New Directions and the 700 Mile Fence

Organisation/Project title: American Institutes For Research/ Review of Adult ESOL Research and Innovative Practice in the USA

Workshop leaders:  Larry Condelli - American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC

With the highest number of immigrants in history now entering the U.S. and an amnesty for undocumented immigrants likely, ESOL issues have received renewed attention, leading to keen interest in new approaches and innovations in instruction, assessment and program design.  This climate had led to an explosion of new ideas and approaches in ESOL.  The session will begin with an overview of current immigration issues facing the U.S.A., a discussion of the importance of immigration and the role of ESOL in cultural integration, followed by a summary of the U.S. national system for providing adult ESOL instruction.  This session will include an overview of current innovations and research in assessment (authentic approaches), instruction (project -based learning and real life materials) and program design (family literacy, work-based and civics models).

Delegates will discuss the innovative practices presented and reflect on how well these practices may work in their classes.  They also will be asked to identify and discuss promising and innovative practice in ESOL in England and to compare them to what is going on in the USA to generate new ideas and cross-national contrasts.

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Connecting research and practice - engaging practitioners

Organisation/Project title: University of Nottingham / Strategic Research Adviser to CfBT Education Trust / National Centre for the Study of Learning and Literacy

Workshop leaders: Richard Finnigan and Edward Sellman (University of Nottingham) / Andrew Morris (Strategic Research Adviser to CfBT Education Trust) / Mary Beth Bingman (National Centre for the Study of Learning and Literacy)

Richard Finnigan and Edward Sellman will discuss the difficulties of getting teaching and learning resources out into the field - the possible factors influencing how effective the dissemination of educational materials is; whether materials, however effectively researched, designed, and piloted, are taken up and used by practitioners in the classroom. Ideas are taken from a project evaluating guidance materials for practitioners working with adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

Andrew Morris will discuss key points arising from some recent studies of how practitioners engage with evidence in social care and educational contexts. Reference will be made to some practical projects working in this area, including the UK Educational Evidence Portal.

Mary Beth Bingman will discuss NCSALL's work in the USA connecting practice and research over the last 10 years reporting on the various tools and professional development strategies used and lessons learned.

View Mary Beth Bingman's Presentation
View Edward Sellman and Richard Finningan's Presentation
View Andrew Morris' Presentation
View NCSALL Research Brief
View Lessons We Have Learned
View NCSALL Tools for Connecting Practice

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Using phonics in adult literacy teaching

Organisation/Project title: School of Education, University of Sheffield

Workshop leaders:  Dr Maxine Burton and Greg Brooks - School of Education, University of Sheffield and Janet Whitfield

In NRDC's research projects on the teaching of reading to adult literacy learners, phonics has been seen rarely and, when seen, has been used on the spur of the moment, and sometimes inaccurately. There appears to be no formal research on using phonics in adult literacy teaching, but research on its use in the initial teaching of children has shown that systematic phonics instruction is more effective than unsystematic or no phonics for teaching reading accuracy, that is, word recognition. This suggests that phonics has potential for improving the word recognition of adult learners for whom this is a problem and, given that accurate word recognition is necessary for comprehension, the benefits may go wider. However, two prerequisites for accurate phonics are that teachers have some knowledge of the phonetics of spoken English and of the correspondences between phonemes (the minimum meaning-changing units of speech) and graphemes (the letters and letter-combinations). We will sketch out an approach for teaching the necessary phonetics and phoneme-grapheme correspondences; one of the contributors, who has been using phonics with her learners, will share her experience of teaching it and demonstrate a few items; workshop participants will be invited to be her learners, and to contribute their own views and experiences.

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Literacy of Icelandic people in the labour market

Organisation/Project title: Iceland University of Education and Reykjalundur Rehabilitation Hospital Adult literacy in Iceland

Workshop leaders:  Gudmundur Kristmundsson - Iceland University of Education, Reykjalundur Rehabilitation Hospital and Elķsabet Arnardottir

In this paper we will share some results of a new study on adult literacy in Iceland where we tested and interviewed 321 participants working in various companies and institutions. The group had a broad educational background, from compulsory school to university education. The educational level in the sample was comparable to levels found in the general workforce in Iceland. The age range was 17-70 years and when processing the data we looked at differences according to age, gender and education.

The results mirror the standard of literacy, individual history of reading and writing acquisition, the will of participants to improve their own skills, as well as reading and writing habits at home and at work. The results could be helpful for those who organize adult education, and it gives us an indication on what is going on in the field of reading and writing in homes.  In this paper we will primarily focus on gender differences that were found in reading and writing habits of the participants.

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NRDC / A longitudinal study of the impact of the Skills for Life national strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy skills on teachers and trainers (The Teachers Study) / How Skills for Life teachers cope with teenage 'adults'?

Organisation/Project title: National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

Workshop leaders: Jenny Lister, Alison Smith, Augustin De Coulon - National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

The introduction of the Skills for Life strategy has meant that large proportion of teachers in adult education now teach to groups with a large proportion of teenage learners (aged 16 to 19). In this briefing we will investigate whether this development affects teacher job satisfaction levels. We will also investigate whether these teachers are 'compensated' by higher pay compared to those who teach mainly to older adult learners. Our preliminary results show that teachers who teach mainly to teenagers are much less satisfied with their learners' progress, and that they are not compensated by increased pay. This has important implications for the turnover rates of Skills for Life teachers.

The findings in this briefing are drawn from the NRDC's 'Teachers Study', a survey of 1000 teachers and trainers working in a range of educational programmes across England. The same teachers will participate in the study over a 3-year period from 2004 to 2007 and complete 3 questionnaires during this time. In addition, 65 SfL teachers and trainers from the sample have completed in-depth telephone interviews. Research findings from the Teachers Study are used to inform on-going policy development and reviews of the SfL initiative.

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