[Technology 1055] findings on evidence of improvement of literacy and language skills through technology

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Silver-Pacuilla, Heidi HSilver-Pacuilla at air.org
Wed Jun 13 09:32:50 EDT 2007

Hello everyone - here is another chunk of my data to share for member
checking with you. Does this resonate? Can you share an example that
confirms or challenges these findings?

**My key question to the group is: What has been your experience with
the lowest skilled students?

Thanks! Heidi Silver-Pacuilla


To recap, I am posting preliminary findings (and not my full methodology
or bibliography since both are currently incomplete) from the published
and posted literature on adult online literacy and language learning. I
hope you find them validating or provocative (or both!) and can join in
a lively discussion of what's actually happening in your school or

This is the second of the three main areas I am sharing with the
listserv: program implementation issues, evidence of improvements of
basic literacy and language skills, and student skills and dispositions
associated with successful technology-based and online learning.

Here are some key findings from the review of studies reporting evidence
of improvement of basic literacy and language skills:

There is growing evidence that adult learners' work with computer-based
or online materials that are supplemental to adult literacy and ESOL
classes contributes positively to their overall literacy and language
acquisition plus complementary learning skills. The evaluations
reviewed were of supplemental materials available to students with some
type of program support (on-site trained teacher or support person,
support person available online, tech support available through the
program, and/or automated feedback system in the program) and varying
degrees of integration with the regular class curriculum.

Importantly, the supplemental materials and online interfaces were
either uniquely developed or chosen for adult literacy and language
learners. Programs have documented successful use of these materials
with all levels of students, including those with the lowest levels of
literacy and English proficiency.

Quantifying specific academic skills achievement is difficult to
pinpoint, but several significant studies report learning gains
attributable to the supplemental use of technology in instruction and
practice. It must be acknowledged that there is still no "body of
evidence" with repeated and comparable studies that can definitely
answer questions about particular interventions used with particular
literacy or language levels with predictable results.

How do these findings correlate with your experience and knowledge?