By Tom Sticht
One of the problems in adult basic skills education is the need to get adults out of basic skills education and into work, vocational or academic coursework as rapidly as possible. There is evidence to suggest that the best way to accomplish this is to intensify the instruction of basic skills.
Here are some ideas on how to manage that process.
Integration of instructional programs
Teach ESL, ABE, ASE and math within the context of work, vocational education or academic coursework needed for transition into post-secondary education. To the extent possible avoid the use of sequences of instruction that require the learner to “raise” their basic skills to some level before they can study what they wanted to learn in the first place. The best way to prepare students for the future is to teach the future in the present.
Compression of courses
Too often instructors tend to embellish their teaching with anecdotes or metaphors that don’t directly relate to what is supposed to be taught and learned. This calls for an approach to curriculum development that focuses on the need to know and not the nice to know. Stay on the topic! People are more likely to learn what they are taught than what they are not taught! Test to the teaching.
To promote the transfer into the next situation that the adult learner is preparing for as efficiently as possible, the curriculum should focus on the entry level knowledge and skills of highest criticality in the next situation for successful work, vocational learning or academic progression and performance.
Modularization of courses
To help learners in programs of open entry/open exit or in multilevel classrooms it is helpful to prepare modularized lesson plans that:
Increased pace of learning
Research is available which suggests that adults stick with programs that provide greater hours per instruction per week for a minimum of weeks rather than programs with just two to four hours per weeks for a larger number of weeks.
An increased pace of learning may also be achieved by blending class work with distance learning and/or self-study outside the classroom. Research is available to suggest that adults who participate in basic skills programs are more likely to engage in self-study than adults with low skills who do not participate in basic skills programs.
Commitment to efficiency in education
Some educators are not very interested in making their education programs as efficient as possible, meaning that they seek to get students to their learning goals as rapidly as possible. But for adults in need of basic skills education, efficiency is at a premium.
Most of them do not have years of time to build years’ worth of new knowledge and skills. For the majority of adult learners, time for education is limited. They will want to achieve their learning goals as efficiently as possible. That is why it is desirable for adult educators to seek ways to intensify and streamline their adult education programs.
Tom Sticht is an international consultant in adult education. He can be reached at email@example.com.