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Exploring Tension in Adult Education ESOL Programs

ADLT 650 April 16, 2013
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Susan Watson

on 25 February 2014

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Transcript of Exploring Tension in Adult Education ESOL Programs

ADLT 650
April 16, 2013
Susan Watson

Señor X, Spain
Disclosing the business of literacy in adult basic education-English for speakers of other languages programs in Virginia: a narrative approach
Agenda
Rationale & Context
Rationale & Context
Data
Interview-hub worker
Challenge the truth activity
Adult Learning Center
School Administration Building
Background: ABE Programs in the U.S.
Tension created between stakeholders for scarce resources
Tension created over priorities
Narrative
class materials
Interview
Artifacts
Document CDA
Lincs CoP
gov web sites
Personal biases
Data & Analysis
Learner goals
NRS five important outcomes
VA goals and objectives
Program requirements

Everything hinges on learner attendance (60-70 hours of instruction) for post testing. Post testing (ed gains) produces vital, reportable NRS data that demonstrate an outcome.
Federal Oversight: National Reporting System (NRS)
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
Stakeholders
Priorities
NRS................... Five important outcomes
State................... Strategic goal
Program............ Reportable data (blue form)
Learners............ Quality of life
Teachers ........... Integrity
Research Questions

1. How do tensions in ABE-ESOL programs influence outcomes for stakeholders?

2. How do tensions in ABE-ESOL programs affect stakeholder priorities?



3. How do my biases fit into the study?
Virginia's Strategic Goals for ABE, 2012-2017
Learner's goals
Rationale and Context:
disclose, not fix
Theoretical Framework

Teacher-researcher, critical sociocultural perspective that considers
my position
in the adult education model.
Tensions
Stakeholders, tensions, study design
Data & Analysis
Activity & Discussion
Competing priorities
Programs are under pressure to produce reportable data in order to remain competitive for further funding.
Activity & Discussion


Research questions:
1. How do tensions in ABE-ESOL programs influence outcomes for different stakeholders?
2. How do tensions in ABE-ESOL programs affect stakeholder priorities?
3. How does my artifact fit into the study?

Research problems
My program can no longer sustain Our Voices participatory curricula.
Stakeholder tensions
Explore tensions in adult education ESOL programs. "What's going on?"
Look at the larger context of ABE-ESOL in VA, using my program as an example.
"Teachers know best."
"All problems relate to funding and resources."
"VA Strategic Goal"
Paradox: In order to complete this project, I need to be “on the inside,” someone who understands and cares enough about the issue to know where to look and what questions to ask. At the same time, I bring my biases, opinions, and pride into the mix, possibly preventing me from hearing and accepting what is right in front of me.  
"It's a convoluted mess."
90 minutes with a retired PM of 25 years who is currently working on a VDOE project.
"VA did not meet any of its targets last year."
Federal funds are authorized by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Title II, Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
"I blame the test publishers for requiring so many hours before post testing."
"We are making a difference in the lives of our students."
"Teachers know best."
"All problems relate to funding and resources."
What if teachers were able to develop their own curricula that put learner needs first?
Who are adult ELLs?
Adults age 18 to 70+
50 countries
diverse cultures
low to high literacy in L1
0 to 12+ years formal education
men and women
undocumented to full citizens
Stakeholders
Stakeholders
Stakeholders
"Teachers know best."
"All problems relate to funding and resources."
Resources and priorities
Example 1: The "point" between literacy and illiteracy (Strategic Goal, p. 5).
Example 2: The "growing adult education and literacy crisis" (Strategic Goal, p. 6)
Examples of problem posing questions:
What is the origin or basis of the Truth? Whose knowledge created the Truth?
Whose Truth is it? (Which apparatus of power?)
How are you positioned in this Truth?
Who are the stakeholders of this Truth?
How does the Truth serve to maintain the status quo?
Who is threatened by exposing the Truth?
What or who is the threat? Why?
Whose knowledge is ignored by the Truth?
What if VA programs had more resources?
Paradox of scarcity: resources are not the problem.
(Smith & Berg, 1987)
Muth, 2013
"The model assumes a single direction in which literacy development can be traced...It isolates literacy as an independent variable and then claims to be able to study its consequences" (Street, 1984, p. 2)."
Analysis Part I: problem posing
Analysis Part 2: Discovery
Conclusions and implications
Virginia ABE ESOL programs to fit a model in which literacy is a quantifiable variable.
Learner needs are not a priority; learners are not stakeholders.
This project could be used as the basis for a research proposal to study the model of Virginia ABE ESOL programs.
I disclosed my position and espoused theory through reflexivity / autoethnograhic methodology.
(Schwarz, R., Davidon, A., Carlson, P., & McKinney, S., 2005)
"Teachers know best."
"All problems relate to funding and resources."
Question personal ideology!
Keep personal biases at bay, or embrace them as part of the research process?
Reflexivity
I want to make friends in the USA.
I want to buy a house.
This is the "convoluted mess." What am I supposed to discover?
It's me!
The ideology I did not challenge
pre-test
post test
literacy
education gains
enter or retain employment
secondary credential (GED)
citizenship
"American dream"
21st century skills
civics
Use personal biases as tools
Personal biases are the cause and the solution
https://community.lincs.ed.gov/discussion/participatory-approach-adult-esol-curricula#comment-2637
http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OVAE/NRS/login.cfm
"The model assumes a single direction in which literacy development can be traced...It isolates literacy as an independent variable and then claims to be able to study its consequences" (Street, 1984, p. 2)."
Sociocultural model depicts literacy as embedded in culture
Autoethnography?
A process and product of autobiography and ethnography
Narrative format
Use of data and personal biases in analysis
She was the reason I felt safe and happy under the manhole cover (my positioning).
With your group, take a problem posing approach to find and challenge a Truth in the Virginia Strategic Goal.
I will make a friend.
I will buy a house.
Full transcript