research share

July 31st, 10 am to noon, at the Genesis Center (620 Potters Avenue, Providence): following the May ESOL share (described below), nine practitioners met to discuss research and its implications for our work in the coming academic year. The following notes delineate both resources and ideas we're hoping to pursue; subsequent meetings led to the development of a process for developing smaller-scale research projects. Those projects can be viewed here

The following notes are excerpted from a write up of the July 31st session:

We began with a round of introductions, and also stated what we were hoping to get out of the session. Generally, the purpose of the meeting was to help each other get a handle on the meanings of research based reading (and education) practice, as well as to find alternate ways to continue practitioner-driven research work in the coming year without the 'big' inquiry projects we've had in the past.

Folks came to the session to share more ideas, to find out what's going on in adult ed programs in the area, to find out what "research-based practice" means, to find tools to help them in their work - with assessment, grant writing, etc.

S. told us about a new book by Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dylsexia:A New and Complete Science- Based Program for Overcoming Reading Problems at Any Level

and an article about the topic in the New York Times

and an article, The Neurobiology of Reading and Dyslexia ( in Focus on Basics, (one of many in Focus on Basics, addressing learning disabilities

We had an interesting conversation about learning more about what the brain does, how people learn to read and how different strategies and approaches are needed for readers with learning disabilities as well as for ESOL learners generally. Sandy told us that those with language based learning disabilities need explicit and direct teaching in the sounds of English (as do all learners); and shared with us the fact that she's also looking into TPR (total physical response) and TPRS (TPR Storytelling). (for more on TPR storytelling, see Rebecca Foster's inquiry report at )

We (I [Janet]) realized again how much we need to help one another build our knowledge base and capacity. While I lose patience with mandated teaching instruction, I also realize that there are a range of elements involved in helping adults learn to read and that we need to be mindful of all of these elements and the ways in which they can be enlisted to assist those learning to read and write in English.

S. also told us about a assessment strategies and reading profiles online at

The site offers an overview of 6 aspects of reading and provides profiles of 11 types of readers, in clear and accessible language. One possibility for the next share (September 22nd) is to walk through the site together in the Genesis computer lab. If people lack access to the internet and want to come to the Swearer Center before then, please let me know - especially before the end of August when Brown students return ).

We talked about how the profiles help us help students see how and whether they're making progress with reading; it's a site well worth exploring as we continue to look at reading research.

NIFL has published a guide (which I brought to the meeting, and can also be ordered at no charge from NIFL, Research-Based Principles for Adult Basic Education Reading Instruction

NIFL's partnership for reading site:

N. brought a copy of the National Center for ESL Literacy Education's text on reading: Reading and Adult English language Learners: A Review of the Research, (available for $2 to cover shipping)

(there's also a NCLE digest, Reading and Adult English Language Learners: The Role of the First Language online at, and

< ahref ="">An Annotated Bibliography of Reading and Adult English Language Learning

She mentioned that the report asserts that sound/symbol correspondence is important in reading instruction and that for many readers new to English, some strategies (predicting, using pictures, titles, etc) don't necessarily transfer from the first language to English - because of cultural cues or other factors.

I viewed a video online this afternoon that might also add to our discussion - Heide Wrigley doing an assessment of reading ability: - field testing a reading demonstration that shows how new readers make sense/meaning of print around them. The video runs about 20 minutes; most of it, a taping of the assessment, with Heide then giving an analysis of what the learner was able to do - her strengths and weaknesses in decoding print in English.

K. brought in slides from a powerpoint presentation given at COABE this spring (and online at

To view the powerpoint and/or subscribe to the adult ed professional development list (on which a version of this write up is posted, as well as other questions and reflections on research and professional development go to:

She pointed out that in one resource "intuition" doesn't count, while in another, it's directly cited as something that informs teachers' decision making and cited Tom Valentine's 1997 Focus on basics Article (Understanding Quantitative Research about Adult Literacy)

We pondered whose voices count when we're looking at research and what are the purposes of research? To inform our teaching? To help us translate outcomes to funders? What happens when we feel like our own knowledge gets pushed by the wayside?

A report from Manitoba, Contextualizing Research in Manitoba: Where are we going? What are we doing? - overview of community-based literacy programs work with researchers into identification of research needs, development of obkective, outcomes and frameworks for considering research in Manitoba, echoes some of our own issues about who does research, who reads it, how is it used and how can we participate? Questions on pages 27 and 28 of the report might be useful to us in the next share - and/or to share more broadly with others in the adult ed. community.

Another practitioner mentioned his own learning from the round of inquiry projects just completed and we discussed the possibilities of different kinds of mentoring projects as a further form of research and professional development.

L. read the Blueprint for preparing for America's future. The Adult and Literacy Education Act of 2003, a piece on research from TESOL Matters Teachers, Researchers, and Research in TESOL: Seeking Productive Relationships by Simon Borg, and the most recent newsletter from EFF, EFF Voice.

The TESOL Matters piece raises the issue of accessibility -- not only is language written plainly and clearly for non-academic readers, but is research and the time to do it physically accessible to us? Should we pool our resources to buy publications we want to share? How do we know when quarterlies (TESOL quarterly, Adult Learning, COABE journal, etc) are going to run articles that interest us?

Libraries at RIC and URI should be available to us (are they?); this is another area that we might want to explore more fully.

K. drafted a proposal for possible inquiry work for the coming year; we talked about other possibilities -- that people consider what they want to be doing -- asking a specific question alone or with a colleague or two, meeting with others in a study circle? Working in small groups on particular topics --? and to consider different means of getting the work done -- starting with the itch/question (what do I want to learn?) and then considering -- do I want to read, write, discuss? come to shares and think? do research of existing literature and websites? talk to other people and analyse my findings?) --

We'll reconvene next month on the 22nd to discuss all this further, but in the meantime, if you have ideas to share with the group, please contact LR/RI.

To read this summary on the adult ed professional development list, and to follow that groups discussion thread, click here

July 31st, 10 am to noon, at the Genesis Center: Participants at the May ESOL share discussed the possibilities of a summer research project -- during which time each of us would find a research study, article or book to read and report on in the fall. The idea came out of a discussion about research-driven approaches to adult education, particularly those focused on reading, which are increasingly cited as necessary to 'proving' that our work works.

We talked about the implications of the No Child Left Behind legislation, which has influenced the National Institute for Literacy ( to take on reading research that looks at K-12 reading. While we stand to learn from such research, many of us are concerned by the diluting of the NIFL's purpose (to be a resource for adult literacy) by including this child-centered focus. We talked about whose research is valued and validated, whose voices count and what research is able to do in terms of helping us improve learning.

We looked at a research report dealing with authentic materials and their impact on literacy learning, "Creating Authentic Materials and Activities for the Adult Literacy Classroom." Based on the findings of NCSALL's Literacy Practices of Adult Learners study, the report provides an introduction to providing literacy instruction based upon the literacy needs and interests learners have outside the classroom. A number of other links, leading to research reports and information, are on line at http://www.brown.edulrri//inquiry.html

Additionally, the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) has published Focus on Basics, which contains numerous articles on research on a number of topics. A list of those topics, linking to the articles, is at, As well, an article from Focus on Basics, "What is research?" might provide an interesting overview for those new to reading these reports, or curious about NCSALL's view of research.

LRRI's inquiry page also includes reports from previous inquiry projects undertaken through RIDE/ LR/RI. We're excited about the possibility of starting a research sharing session in the fall, expanding the invitation to colleagues working in ABE/GED - maybe study circles, maybe incorporating the work into the next round of inquiry projects in the fall. If you would like to talk about reports, or want another set of eyes to walk through the numerous web-based (and other) resources, please let me know. As well, if you've found - or when you find - a report you're interested in, it would be great to be able to share that information with others on this list.

In addition to this research focus, we decided to meet on July 31, from 10 to 12 at Genesis to share general resources -- web-based, print, etc - using Genesis' computer lab, and also bringing in whatever other resources we'd like to share. We discussed the possibility of a pot luck, or going to Apsara restaurant (nearby) at noon for lunch. I hope you can join us.

Other topics we're considering for shares next fall:
classroom management (we talked about this for some time)
projects with low level ESOL learners (check out Focus on Basics' issue on project-based learning and these projects undertaken by Heide Spruck Wrigley et al and

Thanks, all, for your ongoing commitment to this work and for any input you'd like to add/share to the list. I'll be glad to pass along messages to this list if you have questions/comments/insights you'd like to share between now and July 31st.

page created July 2, 2003

updated November 26, 2003

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