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IES Grant

Title: Writing in Adult Secondary Education Classes (W-ASE)
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Puranik, Cynthia Awardee: Georgia State University
Program: Building Adult Skills and Attainment Through Technology Research Network      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 Years (09/01/2021 – 08/31/2026) Award Amount: $3,493,716
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305N210030

Co-Principal Investigators: Greenberg, Daphne; Traga-Philippakos, Zoi

Related Network Teams: This project will serve as the network research team for the CREATE Adult Skills Network, which conducts research and dissemination to support the millions of U.S. adults who have low foundational skills and includes the following other projects: Adult Skills Network Lead(R305N210014), Teaching Skills That Matter (TSTM)–SkillBlox Research Team(R305N210025), Adult Numeracy in the Digital Era: Adaptive Technology for Quantitative and Digital Literacy (R305N210029), Adult Skills Assessment Program: Actionable Assessments for Adult Learners (R305N210031), Content-Integrated Language Instruction for Adults with Technology Support(R305N210032), Developing and Implementing a Technology-Based Reading Comprehension Instruction System for Adult Literacy Students (R305A200413)
Kick-off Webinar available for viewing here

Purpose: The purpose of the project is to develop a writing curriculum for learners in adult secondary education (ASE) classes along with a professional development (PD) delivery model, materials, and online resources for instructors and students. Learners in ASE programs have various goals, including passing high school equivalency tests, gaining skills necessary for success in postsecondary settings, as well increasing their job, community, civic, and family related literacy/numeracy skills. Writing is an important skill for achieving these goals. Unfortunately, there is little research on how to teach writing to this population and few research-based options. Building off an IES-funded curriculum developed and evaluated for developmental education writing courses, this team will iteratively revise the curriculum to develop a technology-supported version for ASE courses and will conduct a pilot study to determine the promise of the intervention for improving student writing, learning, and motivation.

Project Activities: The research team will use an iterative design process to develop the intervention, involving repeated cycles of development, feedback, and revision. The final intervention will include not only a writing curriculum but also student online resources and teacher PD materials. After the initial phase of curriculum design, the project will conduct three rounds of design research followed by a quasi-experimental pilot study.

Products: Products include the fully developed intervention, including all materials and products necessary for implementation in authentic ASE classroom settings, as well as evidence on the feasibility, usability, and potential promise for ASE students. The project will also result in peer-reviewed publications and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as ASE students, practitioners, and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in ASE classes located in Metro-Atlanta, Georgia.

Sample: Across all the development phases, approximately 110 students and 5 instructors will participate. For the pilot study, approximately 80 students and 8 teachers will participate.

Innovation: The project will draw on four sources particularly relevant to the ASE population: (1) the Just Write! Guide from the federal initiative, Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL); (2) research on the self-regulated strategy development model; (3) research on writing strategy instruction with struggling writers in ASE classes; and (4) a writing curriculum, Supporting Strategic Writers (SSW) developed for basic college writers. The project aims to develop a curriculum to improve students' knowledge about types of writing; ability to use effective strategies for planning, drafting, evaluating, and revising; motivation and self-confidence; strategies for self-regulation, including goal setting, task management, progress monitoring, and reflection; and writing proficiency, along with PD delivery model, materials, and online resources for instructors and students.

Research Design and Methods:  The research activities for Project W-ASE are based on a rigorous iterative design process that utilizes rich qualitative and quantitative data sources. The first phase of work focuses on curriculum development and fidelity checklist development, followed by three rounds of design research using mini-cycles that leverage observation and feedback and macro-cycles that leverage qualitative and quantitative data to make modifications to the curriculum, test its feasibility, measure its user satisfaction, as well as assess early indicators of change in strategy knowledge, motivation/self-efficacy, digital literacy, and writing achievement. After completing this work, the researchers will conduct a quasi-experimental study of the full curriculum. They will use mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze how students and teachers understand the instruction, what aspects of instruction need improvement, and effects on student learning.

Control Condition: The comparison group will receive the "business as usual" writing instruction in their ASE classroom.

Key Measures: The development phases measures include a digital skills assessment, writing samples, classroom observations, as well as teacher and student interviews. For the pilot study, the researchers will use a combination of standardized measures (Writing Fluency, Writing Samples, Spelling, Editing, Letter Word Identification, Passage Comprehension, Reading Vocabulary subtests from the WJ-IV), unstandardized (writing an essay in response to a prompt, student writing samples during the course), and measures modified from the SSW curriculum (e.g., writing motivation survey). They will also collect data from ASE teachers using classroom observation, interviews, and surveys to measure fidelity of implementation, user satisfaction, quality of instruction, and demographic information.

Data Analytic Strategy: Overall, these analytical methods will include descriptive, correlational, and multivariate analysis. Additionally, during the development phases, the researchers will analyze field notes from classroom observations, performance on fidelity of implementation checklists, interview responses, and feedback from advisors. In the pilot study, they will analyze the data from the quasi-experimental study using ANCOVA model with pretest scores as the covariate. Prior to analysis, they will examine the data their distributions and pre-post relations, especially to identify influential observations or nonlinear relations. To test for moderators of treatment effects, the research team  will conduct exploratory examinations of interactions, and they will evaluate effect sizes and interaction plots (SAS PROC PLM) will be used to evaluate these student level moderation effects.

Cost Analysis: The research team will calculate the cost for implementing the pilot study at multiple levels accounting for expenditures for personnel (including training), facilities, and materials. Costs for ASE teachers who provide instruction in the pilot study and teacher professional development will also be estimated.

Related IES Projects: Development of a Curriculum to Teach Writing in Postsecondary Developmental English Composition Classes (R305A100614), Supporting Strategic Writers: Effects of an Innovative Developmental Writing Program on Writing and Reading Outcomes (R305A160242)