Five programs for four participants : stories of paradox and learning in a graduate cohort for adult literacy practitioners Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d217qr917

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  • The purpose of this study was to understand the individual experiences of four adult literacy practitioners, Anne, Bill, Candy, and Emily, in the first cohort of the Oregon Field-Based Cohort Master's Program. This program, which Oregon established in 1993 as one venue of professional development for adult literacy and English as a Second Language practitioners, was developed jointly by the Office of Community College Services of the state Department of Education and Oregon State University. The inquiry proceeded from three assumptions. First, effective professional development must be grounded in understandings about how practitioners learn. Second, an understanding of practitioners' learning is attainable only through intensive examination of individual experiences. And third, practitioners' accounts of their learning experiences are legitimate sources of knowledge; they are, in fact, the only accessible avenues for investigating individuals' learning. Transcripts of in-depth interviews and participants' cumulative portfolios were coded and analyzed in the first phase of data analysis to produce stories which integrated Anne, Bill, Candy, and Emily's own words with metaphors they created to frame their experiences. Each story reconstructs a practitioner's construction of the emotional, intellectual, and material experience of learning in a cohort. Together, they represent the uniqueness and complexity of adults' learning. In the second phase of analysis, the stories were compared to reveal relationships of similarity and difference among them. The cross-case analysis generated five themes around the self as learner, the contribution of dissonance to reconstruction of meaning, personal transformations in an academic setting, increased confidence as an outcome of graduate study, and stance as a contributor to the variability and complexity of adults' experiences of learning in a formal setting. The final chapter drew directly on the themes to make suggestions for planning and practice and pose questions which might be used to focus conversations or frame future research about adult learning, graduate programs, or staff development for adult educators. Specific topics included authentic learning situations, reflection, graduate cohorts, collaborative learning, adult learners' stances toward learning situations, distance delivery and professional networks for adult literacy practitioners, and evaluation of professional development programs.
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