Montana LINCS Update


Greetings from Montana LINCS


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1.    Montana High School Equivalency Test – HiSET


Click here to access information about HiSET Montana.


2.    Research Snippet: Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, National Academy of Sciences, 2012


Intrinsic Motivation


Have you ever had the feeling that some of students really do not want to be taking classes?  Hmmm … better yet – have you ever been a student who did not want to be in a class?  We all know that if we have interest and input, we more thoroughly enjoy a class, a job, an activity …


Students who are more intrinsically motivated or perceive their behaviors as autonomous show better outcomes for text recall (Ryan, Connell, and Plant, 1990) … Intrinsic motivation is affected by rewards for performance, the degree to which the learner values the learning activity and task, the learner’s interest in the activity or task, and opportunities for choice or other ways of participating in learning to develop autonomy.


Do we need to be rewarded?


Some argue that extrinsic incentives are not harmful to intrinsic motivation (e.g., Cameron, Banko, and Pierce, 2001; Eisenberger, Pierce, and Cameron, 1999), and others argue that they ultimately lower intrinsic motivation. The case against extrinsic rewards has been confirmed in a meta-analysis of 128 experiments (Deci, Koestner, and Ryan, 1999; see also Deci, Koestner, and Ryan, 2001). For instance, extrinsic rewards can lead to more rigid, less flexible, and slower problem solving (e.g., Glucksberg, 1962; McGraw and McCullers, 1979).


Programs have been implementing various strategies this year to aid student persistence.  Have you discovered that some of those strategies are not working?  Any surprises?  


Research suggests, however, that if students enroll in adult literacy courses simply to be able to obtain an extrinsic reward, such as job referrals, their motivation to subsequently use and engage with subsequent literacy activities may diminish or be undermined once the reward (i.e., a job or a job placement referral) is received.


So do we teach to the test or do we teach skills?  ABLE instructors want their students to walk away from their classrooms with solid skills, not just participation in a task.  Hopefully, by gaining those skills, students can perform better on a test or on a job.


The reward should be contingent on the student’s having learned specific literacy skills or reached specific goals, rather than for simply engaging with or completing a literacy task or course, which is more likely to be experienced as controlling (Deci, 1975; Deci and Ryan, 1987). For instance, if the reward provided by an adult education course is a job referral, then the job referral should be offered for having learned specific skills (e.g., being able to write a coherent essay), not for merely having completed a set of tasks (e.g., completing all exercises in a course).


How many times have you heard the following statement:  I can understand what I am reading if I am interested in the subject.


When students are personally interested in topics covered in reading passages, recall of the main ideas of the passages is enhanced (Schiefele, 1996a) and subsequent motivation in related texts is maintained (Ainley, Hidi, and Berndorff, 2002).


We are no different; however, we need to find a happy medium.


The real challenge, however, is moving learners from situational to personal, or sustained, interest in a way that inspires persistence even when faced with challenging reading tasks or lack of background knowledge.


What kind of techniques can ABLE teachers employ to tap into a student’s interest which may then help support persistence?  Research suggests six strategies for

literacy instructors:


These include (1) offering meaningful choices to students (e.g., allowing them to occasionally choose from among several texts), (2) using well-organized texts, (3) using texts that include vivid imagery, (4) using texts about which students have some prior knowledge, (5) encouraging students to actively and creatively think about the material they are reading, and (6) providing relevant cues for students (e.g., prompting them while reading or providing advance organizers to help make sense of the material).


Research has told us that teacher feedback is essential in student growth; however, it is also important that we listen to student feedback and involve students in decision-making about their programs.  Student choice must be valued if we want students to persist.


… research suggests that if adults are enrolled in adult education courses and develop and maintain positive values about the literacy activities they engage in (i.e., they come to believe that the courses are useful, important, interesting, and worth their time), then they will be more likely to persist with learning.


So if we want our students to be motivated, to be interested, to be active learners, we need to engage them in program design.


Thus, to develop motivation, learners should be allowed to make some decisions about their instruction and control their outcomes (see Eccles and Midgley, 1989; Eccles et al., 1993a, 1993b; Urdan, Midgley, and Anderman, 1998).


ABLE instructors have known for a long time that student success comes when instructors engage students in a partnership of learning.  Sometimes we forget to stand beside and with the student – instead of in front.  Listening to students can be one of the strongest tools we can employ to help increase student persistence.


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 160-168


Stay tuned for Mediator of Persistence!

National Information

3.  Adult English Language Learners Study Circles

Taken from LINCS Community:  Adult English Language Learners

Click here to access information about three new ELL-U study circles for May. 

4.  Career Pathways Presentations from COABE

Taken from LINCS Community:  Career Pathways

Adult Basic Skills and College Pathways

A New Paradigm of Partnership: Aligning Adult Education and Workforce Development Initiatives

Building Benchmarks and Metrics for HIgh Quality Career Pathways: An Adult Education Perspective

Career Pathways 101–Background, Models, Resources

Enhancing Student Opportunities Through Certifications and Career and Technical Education

How Pennsylvania Used Teacher Coaches to Implement the National Career Awareness Project

Points of Entry: Low-Skilled Adults & Adults in Correctional Education in Career Pathways

Raising the Stakes: Making Adult Education Relevant in Indiana

The Transformation Agenda MA Community Colleges and Workforce Development

Your Comprehensive Guide to Developing and Implementing an Adult Career Pathways Program

5.  Financial Webinar: Financial Literacy Materials for Adults with Limited English Reading Proficiency

Taken from LINCS Community

Save the date for a free LINCS Community webinar on Thursday, May 30, 2013 from 2-3PM EDT.

Deborah Kennedy and Miriam Burt of the Center for Applied Linguistics, as well as Jennifer Leach of the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection will host a 60-minute webinar. The purpose of this event is to share free, downloadable instructional and informational materials for practitioners working with adult learners with low literacy in English – both native and non-native English speakers. These materials can be used in classrooms, in one-on-one tutoring, or even by students themselves working online.

Sample resource for discussion:

Interested? Please RSVP for this webinar by posting a comment in the pre-activity discussion thread at . You are also welcome to post questions for the presenters:

The last 15 minutes of this presentation will be reserved for questions from the audience. Stay tuned for additional details! This activity is especially relevant to members of the following LINCS Community groups—Adult English Language Learners, Reading and Writing, Financial Literacy, and Correctional Education—though it is relevant to all interested persons who have instructional and informational financial literacy needs of adults in mind.

P.S.  Remember -- if you are having trouble with the links in this email, go to the Email Archives at the top of the MTLINCS homepage at .  Also if you no longer wish to receive this mailing, please let me know!  Thanks!


Norene Peterson
Adult Education Center
415 N. 30th
Billings, MT 59101