Alumni, Uncategorized

Profile: Susan Spear

Susan Spear
Adult Learning: 2008 cohort

Degree Conferral: Nov, 2011

What is the title of your dissertation and the focus of your dissertation research?

As a practicing occupational therapist/adult educator, I wanted to know more about the population of adult learners who attend adult basic education (ABE) programs, since research indicates that significant numbers of ABE students have learning difficulties and/or learning disabilities. However, most ABE teachers have not been trained to teach adults with these complex learning needs. This conundrum of ABE practice captured my interest and became the research problem I chose to investigate in Lesley’s PhD in Adult Learning program. My dissertation, “Whatever Works: Teaching Adults with Learning Difficulties in Adult Basic Education Programs,” focused on bringing forward the voices of ABE teachers as they described their perceptions of the alignment of their teaching skills with their students’ learning needs.

How have your research interests grown/developed/changed along your doctoral study path? 

As a result of completing this dissertation research, I have developed a stronger interest in exploring the interdisciplinary connections between the fields of adult basic education and occupational therapy. This study has provided a conceptual foundation for my future research agenda, which includes development of action research projects that pair ABE teachers and occupational therapists in the ABE classroom to test the effect of that collaboration on student performance.

What are your personal and professional “post-PhD” hopes or goals?

Certainly having the PhD credential positions me for more professional options, and I am currently investigating those. A goal would be to land in a place where I can enact my burgeoning research agenda. Personally, I am looking forward to having more time to read for fun!



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