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ED 692I: Methods and Approaches in Adult Literacy
Fall 2006 Schedule #77690
Draft syllabus Final version available in class

Tuesdays, 1 - 4 PM  in  273 Hills South
Cristine Smith - Office in 264 Hills South


This course covers the theoretical and practical aspects of adult literacy instruction: the “how to” of basic skills instruction for adults. Specifically, it will give an introduction to the main approaches to teaching reading, writing and math to adults. The course will provide examples from both U.S. and developing country adult literacy programs.

The goal of this course is to prepare you to decide upon appropriate basic skills methodologies for any adult literacy program with which you may be involved. The course is NOT a teacher training course and is not meant to provide you with in-depth knowledge or experience in literacy teaching. Rather, the class is designed as an overview of the range of approaches and methods for teaching adults basic skills in reading, writing and math, so that you have the information you need to design an overall instructional methodology for an adult literacy program.

The course will cover:


By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  1. articulate theories of reading acquisition and the variety of approaches used to teach and assess skills of adults at different reading levels
  2. describe curricular approaches to reading instruction, such as skills-based, contextualized, standards-based
  3. outline specific instructional methodologies to basic instruction, such as individualized vs. group, teaching based on adult multiple intelligence theory, and project-based learning
  4. explain theory and approaches to writing and numeracy instruction for adults


The class is divided into 4 phases.

  1. Theories and approaches to reading
  2. Theories and approaches to writing, including learner-generated materials.
  3. Theories and approaches to numeracy
  4. Instructional methodology for basic skills, including curriculum development in a skills, standards, or contextualized approach; project-based learning; application of adult multiple intelligence theory.

More time will be spent investigating methods and approaches to reading instruction, since theory, research and practice in this area are more developed. In each phase, we will start with the theory behind each approach, and then participate in practical demonstrations and discussions of specific strategies or methods for instruction within the various approaches.

Rather than one final paper, students will be asked to write four 5-7 page papers at the end of each phase, applying what they have learned to teaching basic skills within a context of their choice (international, U.S., specific learner population, specific program type, etc.)


The specific requirements for successful completion of the course are:


This seminar is graded on a pass-fail basis. If you wish a letter grade (and are eligible for one), you must inform the instructor in writing by Tuesday, September 26; no changes in grading status will be made after this date. Assessment is based on


We will use 2-3 Center for International Education publications (available from the Center for between $7 and $15 each). There will also be a course packet of photocopied readings and handouts, available from the instructor after the second week of class. I may also give each student a CD with various articles (in PDF format) that may be part of the reading assignments.

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