Understanding Adult Literacy Growth With Various Measures and Time Scales-Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS)

Understanding Adult Literacy Growth With Various Measures and Time Scales

May 2-6, 2011

Preparation | Guest | Summary

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This discussion will consider findings and implications from the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning (LSAL). LSAL followed a random sample of about 1,000 high school dropouts over nearly a decade, including both individuals who participated in adult education programs and individuals who did not. LSAL collected a rich set of data through periodic in-person interviews and hands-on assessments, providing repeated measures to look at change in individuals’ educational and occupational goals and experiences, literacy skills, uses of literacy, social and economic status, etc.

LSAL is particularly interesting because it enables us to examine literacy development using a variety of measures and timescales for change, comparing program participants and non-participants over long periods of time. The discussion will focus on key findings that program impact on literacy development varies markedly with the type of literacy measures and time scales used. We will discuss the implications of these results -- along with those of other recent studies of program impact -- for program design and policy.


Questions for people to think about in preparation for the Discussion:

  1. What are the different ways you measure adults’ literacy growth over time?
  2. How do adults measure their own literacy growth?
  3. What is your “logic model” that connects students’ participation in literacy programs with their literacy development? What measures of literacy growth will best reflect the impact of your program (or of programs generally)? Do you expect the impact to be directly related to hours of attendance?
  4. Over what time period will effects of participating in programs be evident using the various measures?

Suggested accessible reading(s) for people to look at in preparation for the discussion

Reder, S. (2009). Scaling up and moving in: Connecting social practices views to policies and programs in adult education. Literacy and Numeracy Studies, 16(2), 35-50.

The journal website asks you to register (no cost) before downloading the PDF.

Reder, S., & Strawn, C. (2006). Self-study: Broadening the concepts of participation and program support. Focus on Basics, 8(C), 6-10.

Guest Facilitator

Stephen Reder is University Professor of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University. His research and teaching interests focus on adult education and the processes of literacy and language development during adulthood. Dr. Reder has served as the Principal Investigator for a number of major projects in adult education. Two recent projects, the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning and the National Labsite for Adult ESOL, examine the ways adults acquire new literacy and language abilities and workplace skills and the roles which adult education programs and policies play in supporting that development. The results of this research have led to the development of the Learner Web, an innovative online adult learning support system that is being piloted in a variety of collaborative settings to support literacy development, postsecondary education and workforce development. Professor Reder is the author of numerous research and policy publications about adult education and adult literacy and language development. He recently co-edited a volume with John Bynner, Tracking Adult Literacy and Numeracy Skills: Findings from Longitudinal Research, published by Routledge.

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