Improving Adult Education through Partnerships

Improving Adult Education through Partnerships

Hope’s Adult Education Program recently partnered with Philadelphia’s Office of Adult Education (OAE) to support their new initiative funded by the Barra Foundation. The PHL Technology and Adult Education grant, administered through OAE, will study how technology can be used to improve the service delivery of adult education throughout Philadelphia. Hope’s Adult Education Program will join forces with other adult education practitioners to explore the use of different technologies in improving adult learner outcomes.

Our instructors have specifically teamed with educators from both Philaworks and PhilaFight to identify educational technologies that can be used to help develop the critical thinking skills of adult learners. A vast body of research exists demonstrating that critical thinking is an essential component for navigating daily life. Critical thinking contributes to a person’s problem solving and decision-making capabilities, cognitive skills necessary to succeed, academically, personally, and professionally. In a recent workforce survey conducted by Pearson Education, 81% of employers reported that critical thinking skills were also an essential skill any new hire should possess. Additional research has shown that when students use technology to complete class tasks or projects, higher order thinking skills (like analytical and deductive reasoning) are engaged and strengthened. Therefore, as educators, we believe technology could be used to improve the critical thinking skills of our adult learners and have developed individual research projects in support of OAE’s initiative.

This research project will strongly support the current programming Hope Partnership’s Adult Education Program. With the launch of our newly developed independent reading program in early November, we hope to use grant-supported cloud base educational software to strengthen the reading skills of our adult learners. Using reading comprehension as a proxy for critical thinking, this grant will allow us to quantitatively measure the effect of technology on critical thinking skills using the widely-used Lexile metric. Lexile measures are fast becoming the benchmark for assessing literacy levels in learners of all ages. Because the Lexile Band is a marker for student’s ability to comprehend differing levels of text complexity, observing increases in a learners Lexile measure might reflect improved critical thinking skills. Also, by knowing a learners Lexile level, adult readers can find “right fit” books, both in terms of complexity and interest. We hope to see improved learner outcomes as our adult learners develop stronger reading skills and foster a love for reading.

We believe that if we can increase the instructional time our students receive, whether independently or teacher-led, we can help our adult learners reach their goals faster. Our partnership with OAE and collaboration with other local adult education organizations, will synergistically advance adult education strategies and ultimately improve the lives of our adult learners.

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