[Technology 1063] Re: findings on evidence of improvement of literacy

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Silver-Pacuilla, Heidi HSilver-Pacuilla at air.org
Thu Jun 14 21:15:44 EDT 2007

Thanks for sharing these timely articles, Marian. The federal study is
such a difficult one to argue against since it's main findings - no
statistical difference for children's learning gains on standardized
tests in classrooms that used supplemental technology - have gotten such
wide press. Once you dig in a bit, though, you find out that the study
is reporting only a small slice of what they observed. We don't know if
teachers who used the software longer than 10 minutes a day or whether
teachers who were more experienced integrating technology had higher
student outcomes, for example. These key variables would enrich our
understanding of the findings as will the second year data, following
teachers and classrooms through another year of integration.

The first suite of studies you shared from eSchoolNews have been
circulating in the ed tech world for quite a while and finally getting
some play. Those are all fabulous studies.

We need some fabulous studies in adult ed!



From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of Marian Thacher
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 4:19 PM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 1060] Re: findings on evidence of improvement of
literacy and languag

Hi Heidi,

I'm heartened to hear that there is some research validating the use of
computer-based or online supplemental materials have a positive effect
on learning gains. The headline article in eSchool News today is about
ed tech leading to learning gains in 9 states, http://tinyurl.com/36kpcg

However, a few weeks ago that federal study was released by the US Dept
of Ed showing that instructional software didn't improve learning (for
K12, of course), http://tinyurl.com/327rxb. That study leaves a lot of
questions unanswered, but it does make me wonder whether the goal should
be to show increased learning gains. I know that's considered the gold
ring, but maybe, as Tina said, providing technology skills and access as
additional learning tools is the goal, as part of literacy in its
current form.

Marian Thacher, OTAN
P.O. Box 269003
Sacramento, CA 95826-9003
(916) 228-2597
The Technology and Literacy Discussion List <technology at nifl.gov> on
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 6:32 AM -0800 wrote:
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?
National Institute for Literacy
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