Adult literacy and numeracy interventions and outcomes: A review of controlled trials, C Torgerson, G Brooks, J Porthouse, M Burton

Tags: NRDC, systematic reviews, Basic Skills Agency, National Institute for Literacy, progress, empirical evidence, meta-analysis, Basic Skills, teacher and student, Research-based principles, Reciprocal Teaching, Washington DC, Carole Torgerson Department of Educational Studies University of York Heslington York, London, adult basic education reading, Cognition and Instruction, participating, adult literacy and numeracy, control groups, intervention groups, inclusion criteria, research References, University of York, national strategy, controlled trials, randomised controlled trial, correlational studies, exploratory study, adult learners, reading comprehension
Content: Research Review
Adult literacy and numeracy interventions and outcomes: an exploratory study a review of controlled trials
Synopsis systematic reviews of controlled trials relevant to adult literacy and numeracy, plus an `expert' review, were undertaken by NRDC as part of its work in support of Skills for Life. The aim was to provide complementary answers to the question `What is known from research about effective pedagogy?' The scoping and systematic reviews provide rigorouslyderived answers to the question `What factors in teaching cause adult learners to make progress in adult literacy and numeracy?' The expert review broadened the scope to look at evidence from correlational studies and expert opinion, and to take in the evidence on using ICT to boost adults' skills, and on workplace learning. The reviews concluded that there were very few studies which provided quantitative evidence to answer these questions.
comprehension and the ability to self-monitor it improve. For inmates at a US prison, a `community-building group process' accompanied by the SRA reading programme had a positive effect on reading. A `modified numeracy' approach involving relaxation training and other psychological techniques, plus self-directed mastery learning, had positive effects on arithmetic. Phonemic awareness and/or word analysis instruction can lead to increased achievement in other aspects of reading for adult beginning readers. Regular attendance was associated with greater progress.
Key Points The systematic reviews found just enough evidence to demonstrate rigorously in a meta-analysis that participating in adult literacy and numeracy tuition does produce more progress for the learner than not participating. Reciprocal teaching had positive effects on reading comprehension. Of all the pedagogical findings in these reviews this is the best established. Reciprocal teaching is a procedure in which teacher and student take turns leading a dialogue concerning sections of a text. Initially the teacher models the key activities of summarising (self-review), questioning (making up a question on the main idea), clarifying and predicting. Gradually the learner takes over and both the level of
Few other factors thought to influence progress are supported by quantitative, empirical evidence; this is especially true of ICT, workplace provision, numeracy, and writing. Background and rationale of research This study was undertaken by NRDC because no previous systematic reviews had been carried out in the UK in the field of adult literacy and numeracy, so that very little was known about pedagogy based on rigorously conducted trial-based research. To broaden the scope of the project, an expert review carried out in a traditional narrative manner was also carried out.
This report is funded by the Department for Education and Skills as part of Skills for Life: the national strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy skills. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department.
Research Review
Main elements of research
References and further reading
The systematic reviews were carried out according to the most up-to-date and rigorous approach. Over 4,500 references were screened according to explicit exclusion and inclusion criteria. Nine randomised controlled trials* and nine other controlled trials were double data extracted and quality appraised. The expert review also looked at evidence from correlational studies and expert opinion. * A randomised controlled trial (RCT) is an experiment in which investigators randomly allocate eligible people into intervention groups to receive or not to receive one or more interventions that are being compared. The results are assessed by comparing outcomes in the treatment and control groups. Research team Directors Carole Torgerson, University of York Professor Greg Brooks, University of Sheffield Research fellows Jill Porthouse, University of York Maxine Burton, Manchester Consultants Kath Wright, Independent information consultant Professor Ian Watt, University of York, systematic reviews consultant Research Secretaries Alison Robinson, University of York Jacquie Gillott, University of Sheffield
basic skills Agency (2000). Effective Basic Skills Provision for Adults. London: Basic Skills Agency. Kruidenier, J. (2002). Research-based principles for adult Basic Education reading instruction. Washington DC: National Institute for Literacy. Palincsar, A.S. and Brown, A.L. (1984). `Reciprocal Teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities', Cognition and Instruction, 1, 2, 117-72. Schrum, H.E. (1985). A modified instructional strategy for accelerative and mastery learning of basic arithmetic by male incarcerated adults. USA: California. Contact for further information: Carole Torgerson Department of Educational Studies University of York Heslington York YO10 5DD Telephone: 01904 433 462 email: [email protected]
The full report will be available from September 2003 in PDF and Word formats from NRDC's website at www.nrdc.org.uk Paper copies are available from: Publications NRDC, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL Telephone: 020 7612 6476 email: [email protected]

C Torgerson, G Brooks, J Porthouse, M Burton

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