More than 1,000 educators and researchers involved in adult literacy and basic skills education--some 500 in New York State alone--are sharing ideas through a professional development program that uses an electronic network based at Teachers College.
In the Action Research Professional Development Program (ARPD), teachers contribute to a national database describing and discussing tested instructional practices.
"Action Research taps into the extraordinary resources professional educators can offer," said William Yakowicz, director of ARPD. "The participatory network provides a structure to capture and make accessible effective instructional practices identified through teacher research conducted in a wide range of authentic instructional settings."
Adult literacy and basic skills educators work in a variety of settings across the nation, including libraries, community colleges and community-based organizations. For this reason, they often have little chance to share their experiences.
ARPD allows such sharing through resources including quarterly "Exemplary Practice Files" based on focus group discussions. These small groups are comprised of recognized literacy educators and are convened at practitioners' sites. The files (some eight to 12 pages in length) can be accessed electronically or received through conventional mail.
ARPD participants use the "Exemplary Practice Files" as catalysts for reflecting on their own practice. They report research findings from their own classroom experience to Teachers College's Center for Adult Education on a program prepared form. The research is then analyzed, compared with findings from other local researchers and reported back in quarterly "Action Research Files."
Each "File" is devoted to a particular theme or issue. Recent collections have covered such areas as "what to do in the first class sessions," "Using whole language instruction," "contextualized learning" and "alternative assessment." Upcoming files will cover areas such as "critical thinking," "literacy for students with learning differences," "cooperative learning," and "family literacy."
ARPD participants also have access to an electronic bulletin board, "Literacy On-Line," where they can discuss common concerns and share information through e-mail.
"They can talk about what works in their classrooms and what doesn't," said Jeanne Biterman, an associate with ARPD. "This process of self-reflection further enhances professionalism."
For more information, call 1-800-477-0515.
Columbia University Record -- February 9, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 16