Major findings are summarized for each part of the Compendium.
In developing the theoretical framework from the cognitive sciences, a new interpretation of tests of "verbal intelligence," "verbal aptitude," and "literacy" is provided. In this new conception, all these types of tests are considered as tools for attempting to characterize a person's cognitive system for some purpose, such as job selection, placement in educational programs, or making policy decisions about the need for various services. Using this reinterpretation of these various types of cognitive assessments to review research studies and numerous assessment surveys, several major findings have been formulated.
The Nature of Highly Literate Adults. Extensive research is cited that indicates that highly literate adults perform well on numerous tests of "intelligence," "aptitude," or "literacy." High correlations among these types of tests mean that people are being rank-ordered in a similar manner across numerous tests. The tests contain different vocabulary items, paragraph comprehension, and information processing demands. Therefore, the only way that highly literate people can perform well on all such tests is to possess an extensive knowledge base in long term memory and an efficient information processing system in working memory, as outlined in the human cognitive system model.
The Importance of Vast Bodies of Knowledge. An implication of the foregoing for adult literacy practice is that, if adults are to achieve high levels of literacy, they must develop an extensive knowledge base (including both content knowledge and strategy knowledge as outlined in the developmental model of literacy) and very efficient information processing skills for reading and writing. Because the development of large bodies of knowledge and highly efficient processing skills requires extensive time for practice and wide-ranging reading, adult programs must either retain adults for long periods of time, or stimulate adults to engage in extensive reading and writing outside of programs, or do both. However, present adult literacy programs do not focus on developing any particular bodies of knowledge, except to a limited degree in GED preparation.
Where time is limited, literacy programs may develop a fairly extensive body of knowledge, in a restricted domain, in a fairly brief period. Knowledge involved in prose, document, and quantitative literacy as assessed on the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), job-related literacy as in workplace literacy programs, or parenting-related literacy as in family literacy programs may be fairly rapidly acquired. However, there is reason to question whether this new knowledge will be retained unless it is actually used either in additional education and training programs or in day-to-day activities.
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