On Thursday, Oct 6, Susan Spear shared her research, presented in her dissertation, “Whatever Works”: Teaching Adults with Learning Difficulties in Adult Basic Education Programs. Susan is a graduate of the Adult Learning specialization of the Lesley PhD program in Educational Studies.
Research indicates that significant numbers of adult learners who attend adult basic education (ABE) programs have learning difficulties and/or learning disabilities. However, most ABE teachers have not been trained to teach students with these complex learning needs. This qualitative study, conducted through an interpretivist/constructivist lens, used in-depth individual interviews to garner the voices and experiences of ten ABE teachers as they described how they identify and manage the learning needs of their students. Results showed that ABE teachers described their practice in terms of how they identified their students’ learning difficulties; their perceptions of their identity and role as an ABE teacher; the practical teaching methods they used; and ABE system issues that impacted their teaching practice. Recommendations to promote effective teaching and learning in ABE programs included improving training and professional development for ABE teachers and providing additional resources to support students with learning difficulties in ABE programs.