Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education, Vol. 5, No. 3, Winter 2016
The articles in this issue of the Journal of Research and Practice for Adult Literacy, Secondary, and Basic Education fit together in their emphasis on the ways that research can affect policy and practice. Articles are grouped into six sections: Research, Forum: Research Into Practice, Practitioner Perspective, Research Digest, Resource Review, and Web Scan.
Literacy, Parental Roles, and Support Systems Among Single Latino Father Families (Santos & Alfred). A qualitative study that explores the ways single Latino fathers support their children’s literacy. The authors provide some interesting dimensions to the understanding of family dynamics with implications for family literacy programs.
Selecting Fluency Assessment for Adult Learners (Nightingale, Greenberg, Branum-Martin & Bakhtiari). A study about the difficulty of assessing the reading fluency levels of adults. Administrators and teachers should be careful about adopting tests for reading fluency, especially if these tests have not been designed specifically for adults.
FORUM: RESEARCH TO PRACTICE
Research to Practice Connections (Patterson). Provides an overview of a session at the 2016 COABE National Converence on translating research into practice. In particular, the unfortunate lack of opportunity for discussion between researchers and practitioners.
Using Research to Design Integrated Education and Training Programs (Pappalardo & Schaffer). Presents the myriad of ways that programs at Northampton Community College utilize research.
The Role of Professional Development in Bridging Research and Practice in Adult Literacy and Basic Education (Smith). Calls for more opportunities practitioners and researchers to interact in order to foster meaningful research that informs policy, program structures and teaching. The author posits that professional development can provide greater collaboration and presents an overview of some ways it can be accomplished.
The Academic I-BEST: A Model for Precollege Student Success in College Transfer Programs (Emory, Raymond, Lee & Twohy). Explores a new use of the Academic I-BEST model from a practitioner perspective. The program highlighted was one of the first efforts to translate the I-BEST model to an academic transfer environment.
Adult Basic Education and the Cyber Classroom (Johnson-Bailey). Discusses research related to bullying in the adult education classroom, specifically the online classroom. While the subject of bullying is being extensively discussed in children’s education and higher education, it has been seen as less of an issue in adult education. The lack of interest does not mean that bullying does not exist.
Strugglers Into Strivers: What the Military Can Teach Us About How Young People Learn and Grow (Price). Review of Hugh B. Price’s book and discussion about his recommendation to use the military model of learning in re-designing education for at-risk young adults.
Online Collections of Books and Articles for Adult Basic Skills Learners (Rosen). Presents an extensive list of online resources for adult learners.
This volume takes a rather deep dive into the question of why adult education practitioners need research and why researchers need adult education practitioners. As Smith points out, the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) started to build this bridge several years ago. This volume seems to be an attempt to jumpstart the conversation again, and the editors have constructed the majority of the articles to work in concert.
As a whole, the volume makes the case for developing practitioners as professionals in the field. A long-term investment is required because learning to use research does not happen in one reading or one workshop. An orientation towards using evidence has to be cultivated and maintained over time, and the system that surrounds practitioners plays an instrumental role. The articles explain what that role is and should be closely attended to by policymakers, administrators, and practitioners alike.
As it tackles evidence-based practice, the journal also tips its hat to the scope of adult literacy—and the complexity of the problems. The articles in the Research and Forum sections tackle such things as Latino home literacy practices, literacy assessment, career education, college transitions, and integrated/contextualized learning. Individually, all of the articles in this issue should be of interest to literacy instructors, but as a group, they demonstrate the breadth of issues the field of literacy education needs research around in order to best serve adult learners. This volume should act as yet another clarion call for just such research to be funded, conducted, disseminated, and used thoughtfully—with practitioners engaged throughout the process.
While not every article in the issue as compelling as "The Role of Professional Development in Bridging Research and Practice in Adult Literacy and Basic Education" or "The Academic I-BEST: A Model for Precollege Student Success in College Transfer Program," the array of articles is appreciated. The table of contents reflects the journal's goal of connecting research and practice in the order of articles.
Of particular interest is Smith's short and cogent advice on how the field of adult education can, and should, regroup to more strongly connect research to practice. The Academic I-BEST: A Model for Precollege Student Success in College Transfer Programs is particularly compelling because it offers a clear explanation and evidence of an education model that offers promise-- and a pathway—to the entire field.
This edition could be used as a resource for a study circle not only for program administrators, but, more importantly, for teachers, administrators, researchers, and government officials together. As was noted in Smith's article, practitioners and researchers seem to sometimes struggle to find common ground. A broadly based study circle could benefit from reading and discussing one or two related articles, or, perhaps more profitably, reading and sharing the whole journal as it is set up: from research, to research to practice, to practitioner perspective to research digest and print and online resource reviews.