Posted by Maya Atchan on August 20th, 2018
When it comes to helping adults who are in the need of returning to the classroom and continue pursuing their education, there is a need to understand how many people are in this situation. For many potential adult learners, the fear, anxiety and social stigmas of returning to a classroom can feel insurmountable. To better reach these people in need, and be prepared to inspire them and show them that they can accomplish their goals despite these roadblocks, we need to know who they are and where to reach them. This starts with understanding just how many people are in need of this help.
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is sponsoring CAPE (Critiquing Adult Participation in Education) research to discover crucial data on adults who are in need of continuing education. The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) conducted a survey that measures adults’ proficiency in key information-processing skills – literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. They then gather the information and data on how adults use their skills at home, at work and in the wider community. Through PIACC’s research, the number of US adults in need of basic skills is in the millions. And the reality is most adult education resources only serve about 10% of these adults annually. This leaves millions without these opportunities. CAPE spoke to adults in need and learned first hand about their deterrents. Processing these discoveries can help lead to the needed solutions to help these people.
CAPE research discovers the common deterrents to these adults from continuing their education are considered situational, dispositional, and institutional. People’s situations such as their financial hardships, lack of transportation, or support creates such a devastating burden that they can’t afford the time to go to school. Dispositional deterrents include physical hardships and disabilities, behavioral difficulties, anxiety, loss of confidence, and lack of ability to focus. All of these make the transition back into the classroom feel impossible. Finally, the institutional problems such as potential students not having access to schools, the requirements to start, or the knowledge that there are opportunities for them at all.
The solution to these issues requires work by policy makers to allow these adult learners their full opportunities. This includes finding ways to subsidize transportation and child-care, to help allow these adults to be away from their jobs and responsibilities enough to attend classes. It requires focus on developing classroom and learning centers that are well-equipped with the technologies and educators needed to prove to these learners they have the means to learn and they can succeed. The desire to return to the classroom is there and the barriers are identified, now we need to find the ways to create the bridges to allow these learners to grow and achieve.