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IES Grant

Title: Content-Integrated Language Instruction for Adults with Technology Support
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Durgunoglu, Aydin Awardee: University of Minnesota
Program: Building Adult Skills and Attainment Through Technology Research Network      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 Years (09/01/2021 – 08/31/2026) Award Amount: $2,810,152
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305N210032

Co-Principal Investigators: Greenberg, Daphne; Tighe, Elizabeth; Sladek, Theresa

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), Writing in Adult Secondary Education Classes (W-ASE) (R305N210030), Adult Skills Assessment Program: Actionable Assessments for Adult Learners (R305N210031), Developing and Implementing a Technology-Based Reading Comprehension Instruction System for Adult Literacy Students (R305A200413)
Kick-off Webinar available for viewing here

Purpose: This research team will refine and pilot test a curriculum for use in adult education U.S. history/civics and integrated English courses. Many adult education centers offer integrated English literacy and civics education classes to help adults develop English proficiency, build their knowledge of U.S. history and civics, and work towards accomplishing their goals, such as participating more fully in their communities and citizenship. However, adult education programs do not have theory- or evidence-based instructional materials and practices in a coherent bundle that can be easily implemented in these EL classes. This project will develop such a curriculum, called CILIA-T (Content-Integrated Language Instruction for Adult with Technology Support), which will provide rigorous academic content as part of English language instruction for adult learners and support learners' goals such as participating more fully in their communities and citizenship.

Project Activities: During this project, the researchers will iteratively develop and refine the integrated civics and English language curriculum. The final curriculum will include technology support and content to build digital literacy for students and teacher resources to facilitate this process. The researchers will also conduct a quasi-experimental pilot study and a cost study to determine the intervention's promise and price.

Products: The primary product for this project is  a hybrid curriculum that addresses digital literacy and integrated U.S. History/Civics and English instruction and materials for instructors. The researchers will disseminate research results through presentations at practitioner and research-oriented conferences and by publishing research findings in peer-reviewed journals.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in urban adult education centers in Minnesota and Georgia.

Sample: Approximately 200 adult English learners (ELs) and 4 instructors will participate in the iterative development phase. Another 200 ELs and their teachers (approximately 15-20 teachers depending on the class sizes) will participate in the pilot study. ELs will have at least intermediate-level English proficiency.

Intervention: CILIA-T will be a 16-module hybrid curriculum with both teacher-led instruction and individual (or dyad) online activities with a total of 60 hours of digital literacy and integrated U.S. history and civics and English instruction. Teachers will deliver the curriculum, which will also include teacher guides with detailed lesson plans, compiled materials (texts, pictures, maps, links to digital resources), and video clips of classroom practices and the theoretical and empirical basis for CILIA-T's framework and the classroom activities. CILIA-T focuses on improving the comprehension of academic texts by building background knowledge and vocabulary of adult ELs and addressing all four domains of language (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). Course activities aim to increase learner persistence and self-efficacy by valuing and utilizing learners' knowledge and encouraging peer support.

Research Design and Methods: During the iterative research phase, the team will collect data from learners through think-alouds and assessments to observe learners' vocabulary and inferencing strategies and the building of the background knowledge. The researchers will develop the modules integrating the input from learners, consultants, and teachers. Then, four experienced teachers will implement CILIA-T to determine its feasibility and usability. After these iterations, the researchers will evaluate the final version of the curriculum with a pilot study, collecting pre- and post-test measures of vocabulary, reading comprehension, content knowledge, digital literacy, and self-efficacy. The researchers will also conduct implementation and cost studies as part of the pilot test.

Control Condition: The control condition will include ELs participating in business-as-usual civics courses.

Key Measures: Key measures include PPVT-5 Vocabulary, WIAT-IV Reading Comprehension, digital literacy and self-efficacy tests, curriculum-based vocabulary, background knowledge, and reading comprehension tests. The researchers will also use classroom observation checklists and teacher diaries to assess implementation fidelity.

Data Analytic Strategy: During the development phase, the researchers will use a mixed-methods approach, blending results from ANOVAs and qualitative analysis of think-aloud and observation data to determine the most beneficial components and strategies. For the pilot study, they will leverage ANOVAs and multiple regression and quantile and cluster analyses to determine whether the promise of CILIA-T is moderated by student characteristics (such as schooling in first language, initial reading level, demographics).

Cost Analysis: The researchers will use the ingredients methods to estimate the cost of implementing CILIA-T. They will consider how much time and effort it takes to implement the program and the cost of technology, such as resources at the centers and learners use of smartphones.