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Tech Report  June 1, 2017

Evaluating Digital Learning for Adult Basic Literacy and Numeracy



Murphy, R., Bienkowski, M., Bhanot, R., Wang, S., Wetzel, T., House, A., Leones, T., Van Brunt, J. (2017). Evaluating Digital Learning for Adult Basic Literacy and Numeracy. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.


More than 36 million adults in the United States do not have the basic literacy and math skills needed for many entry-level jobs and even less so for the types of jobs expected to dominate in the future. And current federal- and state-funded adult basic education (ABE) programs, the main providers of skill development and training programs for this population, do not have the resources, facilities, or trained staff to serve all those adults in need of further education to improve their basic skills and job prospects. In 2014, The Joyce Foundation asked SRI Education’s Center for Technology in Learning to investigate the role and efficacy of five different digital learning products in (1) improving the basic reading, writing, and math outcomes for low-skilled adults in ABE programs and (2) helping programs increase their capacity to serve a greater number of students. Through this research, we set out to understand how ABE programs might use these technologies to improve the instruction they offer, whether such technologies are effective with low-skilled adults (performing at fourth- to ninth-grade levels in reading and/or math) and which practices and product features might be associated with better outcomes for students and programs. In this report, we present the findings from this three-year study.

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