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Teaching for Developmental Diversity: An Approach to Academic Language and Critical Thinking

This paper briefly describes constructive developmental theories of adulthood, implications for academic language and critical thinking, and outlines developmentally scaffolded learning activities.
Author(s): 
Jennifer Ouellete-Schramm
Published: 
2014
Resource Type: 
Product
Number of Pages: 
5
Product Type: 
Target Audience: 
Skill Level: 
NRS EFL 4--ABE Intermediate High
NRS EFL 6--ASE High
Abstract: 

This resource is aimed at teachers working with adult learners to develop critical reading skills. The document provides a brief theoretical discussion of stages of cognitive development applicable to adult learners. The resource then describes three classroom-based activities that can support learners in developing critical reasoning skills:

  1. Helping instrumental learners to identify big ideas
  2. Structured academic conversations as a scaffold for abstract thinking
  3. Focused peer-review to support critical thinking outcomes

It addresses the processes of GED completion and successful transition to college that has a foundation in academic language and critical thinking practices informed by constructive-developmental theory.

What the Experts Say: 

The resource identifies several lessons for the adult education classroom, specific to constructive developmental theory and approaches. These include identifying big ideas, structured academic conversation as a scaffold for abstract thinking, and focused peer-review to support critical thinking outcomes. These and others cited are laid out well, so an instructor can use them with minimal practice. This could be the core of lessons to improve and expand critical thinking as well as other metacognitive skills.

This would be a good resource for adult educators who want to help learners develop higher order thinking skills necessary for post-secondary education. The three activities the author describes would be a good basis for teaching colleagues to study, try out, and refine.

This is a good resource for teachers working with adult learners to develop critical reading skills. The document provides a brief theoretical discussion of stages of cognitive development applicable to adult learners. The resource then describes three classroom-based activities that can support learners in developing critical reasoning skills. The lessons with explicit explanation and detail are highly useful, especially for instructors who have not incorporated these types of activities into their lessons and are working more on a remedial approach.

This is a well thought-out resource with very practical, applicable lessons and approaches.  It is very easy to see the transfer from research to practice. This resource falls within the theoretical framework of the adult education field. It addresses the processes of GED completion and successful transition to college that has a foundation in academic language and critical thinking practices informed by constructive-developmental theory.

This resource is one that takes the instruction component of adult education from a remedial protocol to a constructive developmental protocol and assumes that as an adult learner constructs and creats critical thinking skills remediation can be folded in.  It also addresses the varying needs of developmentally diverse students. Teaching in developmentally diverse classrooms (that may include ABE and ESOL learners from different backgrounds) has its own host of challenges;  the resource provides several strategies for teacher in diverse environments. 

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