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An Environmental Scan of Adult Numeracy Professional Development Initiatives and Practices

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Author(s): 
Renee Sherman
Kathy Safford-Ramus
Anestine Hector-Mason
Larry Condelli
Andrea Olinger
Nrupa Jani
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
Prepared by American Institutes for Research for U.S. Department of Education
Published: 
2007
Resource Type: 
Research
Number of Pages: 
186
Abstract: 

This environmental scan examines recent and current numeracy professional development initiatives in the United States and informs numeracy research and other initiatives at the state and federal levels.

The EScan focused on the following research questions?

  • What types of professional development initiatives have been implemented at the state and local levels through federal funding that incorporate or focus on adult mathematics instruction?
  • What types of programs have been implemented at the state and local levels through federal funding that focus on adult mathematics instruction related to adult English language acquisition learners?
  • What instructional practices exist in mathematics education for adult learners that are worthy of replication? How should instructional strategies and programs differ across adult learner populations?
  • What practices exist in professional development and certification requirements for instructors of adult mathematics education that are worthy of replication?

The report is organized into five chapters:

  1. Introduction: Describes the status of adult numeracy instructors and the need for professional development
  2. Methodology: Describes the procedures used for selecting initiatives to include in the EScan.
  3. Findings: Describes the results of the investigation and information about the professional development deliverers, funding sources, delivery approaches, instructional strategies, and assessment.
  4. Implications: Examines the findings of this study in relationship with the findings in the literature in light of the research questions.
  5. Recommendations: Suggests initiatives worthy of replication and offers suggestions for continued research.

This environmental scan examines recent and current numeracy professional development initiatives in the United States and informs numeracy research and other initiatives at the state and federal levels.

The EScan focused on the following research questions?

  • What types of professional development initiatives have been implemented at the state and local levels through federal funding that incorporate or focus on adult mathematics instruction?
  • What types of programs have been implemented at the state and local levels through federal funding that focus on adult mathematics instruction related to adult English language acquisition learners?
  • What instructional practices exist in mathematics education for adult learners that are worthy of replication? How should instructional strategies and programs differ across adult learner populations?
  • What practices exist in professional development and certification requirements for instructors of adult mathematics education that are worthy of replication?

The report is organized into five chapters:

  1. Introduction: Describes the status of adult numeracy instructors and the need for professional development
  2. Methodology: Describes the procedures used for selecting initiatives to include in the EScan.
  3. Findings: Describes the results of the investigation and information about the professional development deliverers, funding sources, delivery approaches, instructional strategies, and assessment.
  4. Implications: Examines the findings of this study in relationship with the findings in the literature in light of the research questions.
  5. Recommendations: Suggests initiatives worthy of replication and offers suggestions for continued research.
What the Experts Say: 

I see this article as purposeful for practitioners, professional development persons, directors, stake holders, and researchers. The scan provides meaningful insights into the strengths and weaknesses of professional models in adult numeracy instruction. It also provides guidelines on what good professional models should be and next steps as the research continues. The various models sited could also provide resources to practitioners, etc. to investigate further.

 

One reviewer did note some slight inaccuracy in the reporting of details on some of the projects; but the other reviewer found the thoroughness of the scan enlightening, informative and essential as adult practitioners explore further the research necessary to improve numeracy instruction.

 

This resource is clearly most useful to program administrators and professional development specialists on the state, regional, and national levels. It is valuable in its analysis of professional development and its descriptions of the essential features of quality professional development. In addition, the analysis of participant data rings true. For example, in the report's description of "challenges (to instructors) in implementing new knowledge and skills", a large majority of respondents reported that the major challenge was student resistance to new activities and changes in instruction. This is an accurate observation, and a valuable one for any instructor initiating change in his/her classroom, especially in the area of adult numeracy topics.

 

The document provides an overview and detailed summary of quality US adult numeracy professional development projects. Of particular note for readers:

  • Essential and Desirable Features of professional development on pages 7-8.
  • Description and discussion of research on characteristics of quality professional development initiatives. Note the five features of quality professional development on page 54.
Methods to collect and analyze the data: A qualitative research design was used with procedures in grounded theory and other research techniques.
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