Technologies for Adult Basic Literacies Evaluation (TABLE) | SRI International

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Technologies for Adult Basic Literacies Evaluation (TABLE)

SRI Education is investigating the role and efficacy of online learning technologies targeting literacy and math outcomes for low-skilled adults enrolled in adult basic education programs.

According to a 2013 report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD Skills Outlook 2013, 36 million U.S. adults (16 percent of adults) do not have the basic skills required to qualify for many entry-level jobs available today, much less for the types of jobs that are expected to dominate in the future.  At a minimum, prospective employees will need to be proficient in high school-level literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, communication skills, and the ability to self-direct one’s own learning and training through the use of digital tools and online resources.

Given this mismatch between the low skills of this sizable population of U.S. adults and the skills middle-class jobs demand, many of these adults are or will be chronically unemployed or underemployed. Currently, federally supported programs are only able to serve about 3 million of these adults.

To address this critical problem, the Joyce Foundation’s Employment Program and Innovation Fund has asked SRI Education to investigate the role and efficacy of online learning technologies in improving the basic literacy and math outcomes for low-skilled adults in adult basic education (ABE) programs and helping these programs increase their capacity to serve a greater number of students. Potential advantages of these online instructional technologies include

  • Allowing students to learn content that is delivered at the right level, right time, and right pace for each student
  • Increased engagement
  • Continuous assessment of learning
  • Immediate feedback on progress to students and their teachers
  • The ability to learn anytime and anywhere

In this two-year research project, SRI Education is partnering with a group of up to 15 ABE program sites in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere that are adopting different online instructional programs. This project will investigate how these technologies can be effectively integrated into ABE programs to improve the outcomes of the adults served.

The project will study the adoption of up to five different online instructional programs, which will be selected to represent a range of approaches to providing online basic literacy and math instruction. Through the use of surveys, interviews, site visits, and analysis of back-end data from the online systems, the project will examine the supports and practices needed to leverage the potential of the technologies.

The project is also investigating the potential efficacy of these technology-supported ABE programs in improving student outcomes by implementing a series of quasi-experiments, and experiments when feasible in the study sites.