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.    TANF Adult Basic Education (TANF ABE) Support RFP:  Deadline May 23!


Attention Montana ABLE Programs!


Click here  to access information about the TANF Adult Basic Education RFP.


The STATE OF MONTANA, Department of Public Health and Human Services, Human and Community Services Division ("State") has TANF Education Support funding available to provide grants to appropriate programs that offer adult basic education programs for TANF eligible individuals working to improve their educational skills, obtain a high school diploma, or obtain general educational development (GED) certification. Priority for funding must be given to adult basic education and programs or entities offering instruction and assistance during the months of June, July, and August.


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


Motivation, Engagement, and Persistence


Montana ABLE programs have been implementing various strategies to retain students so that they may achieve success.  However, reality does set in, and students are not able to stay with a program for as long as it takes to fully develop literacy skills.   


Adults lead complex lives with many responsibilities and constraints on their availability to engage in formal learning. This reality, combined with the amount of effort and practice needed to develop one’s literacy skills, makes supporting persistence one of the most challenging aspects of designing effective adult literacy programs.


Maybe a student does not gain an EFL.  Does that mean that programs are not successful?  No, for programs do many things that make positive impacts on adult students.  Improving a student’s self-efficacy in math, reading, and/or writing is just one example.




When learners expect to succeed, they are more likely to put forth the effort and persistence needed to perform well. More confident students are likely to be more cognitively engaged in learning and thinking than students who doubt their capabilities (e.g., Pintrich, 1999; Pintrich and Schrauben, 1992; Schunk, 1991).


Be careful.  Do not confuse self-efficacy with global self-esteem.


Whereas self-efficacy refers to learners’ beliefs about their abilities in a certain area, such as literacy, or their ability to complete a specific type of literacy task … global self-esteem refers to how one feels about oneself generally (Crocker, Lee, and Park, 2004; Wigfield and Karpathian, 1991; Wylie, 1979). It is possible to have high self-esteem generally while having low self-efficacy in one domain …


… the relation between general self-esteem and any given outcome is weak. Indeed, there is little evidence that enhancing students’ general self-esteem leads to increases in achievement (Baumeister et al., 2003; Wylie, 1979). Thus, although raising general self-esteem often is promoted as a panacea, the actual relations between self-esteem and beneficial outcomes are minimal (Baumeister, Smart, and Boden, 1996; Kohn, 1994).


What can programs do to increase students’ self-efficacy?  Research states that there are three areas that need attention:  (1) setting appropriate goals, (2) provision of feedback to achieve appropriate attributions for success and failure, and (3) progress monitoring. 


Appropriate Goals


Setting proximal goals, not just distal ones, is much more likely to result in experiencing success, which enhances self-efficacy (Schunk, 1991). Opportunities to achieve short-term goals are especially motivating in complex domains such as reading and writing, in which substantial time and effort are required and reaching distal goals can take months or even years (Schunk, 2003) …


One strategy to encourage persistence is to help learners set short-term, or proximal, literacy goals that are optimally challenging and reachable within a short period of time (Manderlink and Haraciewicz, 1984; Schunk, 1991, 1996).


If students achieve some skill success in a short period of time, their time spent in a program has been positive.  Completing one short term goal is a step in the mastery process. 


Mastery is also easier to link to successful behavior in life: people do well if they can comprehend instructions on the job and write reports that colleagues value, not because they got an A in a course.


What happens if teachers only focus on performance goals instead of mastery goals?


If instructors emphasize mastery, effort, and improvement, then students will be more likely to adopt personal mastery goals; the adoption of mastery goals subsequently predicts valued learning outcomes, including persistence at reading, choosing to engage in additional literacy activities in the future, and the use of more effective reading strategies. If, however, instructors emphasize grades, relative ability, and differences in progress and achievement, students will be more likely to adopt performance goals (either approach or avoid) and experience maladaptive outcomes (e.g., use of less effective reading and writing strategies) (Ames and Archer, 1988; Anderman and Wolters, 2006; Nolen, 1988; Nolen and Haladyna, 1990).


Feedback and Framing


To persist, learners need feedback and models that help frame their experiences with learning and develop adaptive explanations for successes and failures.


Now take a look at this interesting tidbit.  Does this surprise you why some students persist?  Maybe this is why some students still stay even when they are not achieving what educators may define as success in the classroom –



Consistent with attribution theory (Weiner, 1985, 1986, 1992), a learner who is experiencing failure or difficulty comprehending a text, for example, will be more likely to persist if he or she attributes the difficulty to something external (e.g., a boring text), something uncontrollable (e.g., being ill), or something unstable (e.g., feeling depressed that day). A learner who experiences success at a task will be more likely to persist if progress is attributed to something internal (e.g., personal enjoyment of reading), controllable (e.g., practice, spending a lot of time working on the text), and stable (e.g., a belief in one’s ability as a reader) (Schunk and Zimmerman, 2006).


Research also states that teachers can contribute to the development of negative attributions in a variety of ways.  Teachers must not fail to realize the influence they have on the learning process.  Make ‘em; don’t break ‘em!


One obvious way is to communicate, intentionally or unintentionally, to learners that a reading problem is internal to them. Teaching practices that could build negative internal attributions include labeling readers and writers as strong or struggling; making obvious assignments of readers and writers to working groups by skill level; and encouraging some learners to excel, while exhibiting clearly low expectations for others. In addition, providing inadequate or no feedback can also signal the idea that skills are inherent and immutable …


Progress Monitoring and Self-Regulation


Students who are self-regulating—who set goals, make plans for reaching their goals, and then monitor and regulate their cognitions and behavior—are more likely to do well on academic tasks.


Although many of our students are not self-regulating, even independent learners still need help in recognizing and appreciating their progress so that they feel efficacious and persist.


Assessments of progress are important and are hallmarks of American education. However, the ways in which assessments are administered and the ways in which feedback is presented can have important effects on motivation …


… A number of research-based instructional strategies for administering assessments can help to avoid demotivating students. First, results of assessments should be presented privately. The presentation of assessment results in a public manner is highly conducive to the adoption of performance rather than mastery goals (Anderman and Anderman, 2010; Maehr and Anderman, 1993). Second, whenever possible, adult educators should encourage students to focus on effort and improvement …


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 147-160


Not all students make a documented gain.  However, if programs set appropriate learning goals, provide feedback, and monitor student progress, then programs are providing an atmosphere that supports student persistence, an atmosphere in which students hopefully move forward to achieve their goals.  Sometimes, though, we just define moving forward a little bit differently.


Stay tuned for Intrinsic Motivation!

National Information

4.  Adult Education College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education

Taken from LINCS Community:  Evidence-based Professional Development

Click here to access the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education

5.  Career Pathways:  Improving Community College Student Success Pathways through College – Strategies for Improving Community College Student Success

Taken from OVAE Connection

Our Piece of the Pie (OPP), a youth development organization based in Hartford, Conn., recently released Pathways through College: Strategies for Improving Community College Student Success. The report outlines the completion challenge facing community college students across the country and summarizes the strategies the colleges can pursue to improve student success. OPP notes that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of jobs will require a postsecondary credential, and job growth for associate degree holders is expected to peak at nearly 20 percent between now and then, double that for the workforce as a whole and exceeding the projected job growth rate of bachelor’s degree holders. Community colleges will, therefore, be called upon to play an increasingly important role in meeting our nation’s skilled workforce needs. 

However, OPP argues, community colleges will not be able to meet this challenge without addressing the “community college dropout crisis.” Citing statistics from Complete College America, OPP notes that less than 30 percent of beginning community college students complete an associate degree within three years, and the completion rates are significantly lower for low-income, minority, and older (more than 25 years old) community college students.  

OPP identifies five interconnected barriers inhibiting student success and increasing the number of community college dropouts: 

1.     Inadequate academic preparation;

2.     Remedial education;

3.     Student financial aid;

4.     Lack of non-academic skills; and

5.     Competing obligations …

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Solutions?  Maybe we can find them as we work together.

6.  Career Pathways:  Webinar on May 14 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT – The Role of Community Colleges in Career Pathways Systems

Taken from LINCS Community

Click here to register for the webinar.

The third event in OVAE’s 2013 community college webinar series will be held on Tuesday, May 14 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT.  Building on the National Dialogue on Career Pathways held last October, this event will bring together foundation, state, and local community college representatives to discuss the central role of community colleges in career pathways systems

Whitney Smith from the Joyce Foundation will discuss the importance of career pathways systems and the Joyce Foundation’s work to expand the development of these efforts in the Great Lakes region.  Dr. Jay Box, Chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, will present on the numerous statewide initiatives underway in Kentucky to ease postsecondary access and transitions for youth and adults.  The webinar will also highlight two promising local career pathways programs.  Deborah Davidson, Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin will discuss the work of her institution to provide on-ramps for low-skill adults to access postsecondary education and training.  Lupe Chavez, Director of High School Programs at South Texas College in McAllen, Texas will also present on South Texas’ efforts to expand partnerships with local high schools to increase dual enrollment and promote postsecondary transitions for young adults.

7.  Technology:  The Idea Makers – Ten Tech Innovators 2013

Taken from LINCS Community:  Technology and Learning

Interested in learning about ten of the biggest ed technology innovators of 2013? Granted, they're focused on higher ed more so than adult literacy. Regardless … their outside-the-box thinking is how we should always approach technology and ed.

Paul Kim

The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Idea Makers: Ten Tech Innovators 2013

8.  Writing:  The Five Paragraph Essay Video

Taken from LINCS Community:  Technology and Learning

Do you need a video to do some pre-teaching about writing an essay?  Click here to access a 15 minute video from Media Library of Teaching Skills (M-Lots).

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