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Inquiry into supporting adult learners

HCRL's picture

For my inquiry project, I hope to explore pedagogical practices that support and empower adult learners. Additionally, I wish to learn about strategies that can help adult learners make the biggest strides academically. If research exists on the topic, I would like to specifically examine teaching and working with adult learners in the context of relatively informal reading and writing classes, and if possible in instances where the educator is younger than the students. This area directly relates to my placement at a women’s prison, and I would be keeping that in mind throughout my inquiry. While at my placement, I strive to be a learning ally, but I often wonder if women in the book club ever feel aggravated by the fact that that us Bi-Co students are often so much younger than they are, but have more power in how the group is run. I also wonder about selecting reading materials, and whether the women would feel comfortable saying that the selected book was too difficult for them. As I look forward to next year in which I will hopefully be continuing my work at the prison, I think it would be extremely interesting and beneficial for me to educate myself on the best ways to work with adult learners, and perhaps some of my questions will be answered along the way. I am not sure yet what form the final project will take, but I currently expect it would be a curriculum, research paper, or perhaps a guide that I could use to inform my work next year (along with other resources). 


jccohen's picture


Great that you're using this as an opportunity to move forward toward your work next year.  A friend of mine, Rachel Martin, has a good book out called Listening Up that focuses on her work (as a younger person) with various community-based literacy programs, many of them with adults older than she was.  (We'll read a chapter of this in our class, but you might want to look at the whole book.)   Also, Megan Sweeney's book Reading is my Window tells about running reading groups with women in prison, and I think in at least some instances she was younger; it's long, but I think there's some material early on and again at the end about her involvement with doing this work.  And Wendy Luttrell also has a book that might be useful - School-Smart and Mother-Wise.  Just some initial thoughts...