2018: A Year in Review


It’s that time of year when we start seeing our lists from 2018. What were the trends? What was new? Where will this lead us to in 2019? So, I thought I’d take a few minutes to create our Top 15 topics in the Evidence Based Professional Development Community of Practice.  Check these out and chime in! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on where you would like to see our community go in the next year.

  1. What is the Scarcity Mindset.What happens to our minds and decisions when we feel we have to little of something? Why, in the face of scarcity, do people so often make seemingly irrational, even counter productive decisions? This discussion was so popular that we are scheduling a special event on this topic in the spring.
  2. Reading on a digital platform.  Are we ‘short-changing’ our students by expecting them to build reading skills through technology when the research seems to indicate students may lose depth of instruction? It’s more complicated than a yes/no answer.
  3. What is meant by engaged Learning Is engagement an end in itself, or a means to other ends? Is engagement as important as other characteristics of a good education such as intentionality, balanced breadth and depth, complexity, multi-disciplinary, integration, and contextual awareness? And, while we are asking questions, perhaps we should begin by asking--Engagement with what?" So, what does engagement in adult education mean? How do we know we have achieved it? And is engagement really important?  
  4. What does it mean to be ‘accessible’?  As educators create and author their own content using a variety of tools, how do you address the importance of creating accessible documents? Does your program have an official policy? If so, are the staff members aware of these standards? What struggles, if any, do you have when designing and implementing accessible content?
  5. What does it meant to be ‘fault tolerant’ and how does it help with retention. We know our students have difficulty with multiple challenges, but by design, our programs often have little flexibility. If a student misses too many classes, they are dropped from the program. One of the most powerful lines I read as I researched the Scarcity mindest is the concept of strategies. By their very definition, strategies presume a student has a choice to resolve their challenge. The idea of being 'fault tolerant' is to account for human error and / or to diminish the consequences and results of mistakes. 
  6. Does teaching history and science improve reading comprehension. Whether or not readers understand a text depends far more on how much background knowledge and vocabulary they have relating to the topic than on how much they’ve practiced comprehension skills. That’s because writers leave out a lot of information that they assume readers will know. If they put all the information in, their writing would be tedious. As adult educators, we have often focused on the background knowledge students bring to the classroom and we often bring in real world text, but I'd like to revisit the idea of multidisciplinary teaching. How do you integrate instruction for career pathways and high school equivalency programs across all of the content areas? Do you have model lessons you could share? 
  7. Should we still lecture in the classroom  Have we moved away from traditional teaching methods such as a lecture because we determined it's 'old school?" There has been a huge push to move away from the 'sage on the stage' and be more of a facilitator, but as educators - we are the experts on the content we are teaching. So, how do we balance effective lecturing? Or, is there still room in education for lectures? What do you think? 
  8. Memes and Faulty Analogies As we experience greater political discourse, people are engaging in social media to share their ideas and debate, but I wonder, how do you teach students about false analogies that often pop up in these images? We have spent time in the past talking about fake news and critical thinking, but the impact of memes in to transmit 'cultural ideas' is often not addressed. So, how do you teach students to dig deeper into a subject? Do you use memes in your classroom to generate discussion? 
  9. Are we at a point of fatigue? And what is compassion fatigue. From the American Institute of Stress: “We have not been directly exposed to the trauma scene, but we hear the story told with such intensity, or we hear similar stories so often, or we have the gift and curse of extreme empathy and we suffer. We feel the feelings of our clients. We experience their fears. We dream their dreams. Eventually, we lose a certain spark of optimism, humor and hope. We tire. We aren’t sick, but we aren’t ourselves.” 
  10. What does it meant to be poor in America  As we often work with adult education students who are in the most vulnerable stages of their life, facing substandard housing or homelessness. In a 2001 study, Attitudes Toward the Poor and Attributions for Poverty, author's Cozzarelli, Wilkinson, and Tagler state that "Americans believe there are multiple determinants of poverty but that individualistic or 'internal' causes are more important than external causes." Basically, we recognize there are systemic issues that cause poverty but we expect an individual to 'overcome' these barriers and mOnline Book Discussions for Professional Developmentove toward self-sufficiency.  So, what does all of this mean for adult education? How do we maintain or mission of increasing literacy and numeracy skills of adults when they are struggling with poverty? How do we design effective programming when students are dealing with income inequity? 
  11. Can Trauma-informed practices help TANF recipients with careers and financial literacy The research is centered around how TANF has had limited success in building sustainable self-efficiency in family and does not address trauma or trauma exposure as a barrier to employment. The article cites research on the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences and TANF recipients. Research has repeatedly linked ACEs or trauma-exposure to damaging work prospects and stable income due to the work limiting conditions such as depression, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and food insecurity. 
  12. Is there a culture of poverty  As we look toward program planning, student retention, and instructional strategies, I often hear comments framed around the concept of a culture of poverty. I'd like to challenge this idea by exploring some of the myths we associate with poverty.
  13.  Have you ever implemented, or been a part of, a book discussion as a PD option? 
  14. Creating Boot Camps for HSE Programs For HSE boot camps, students are given an accelerated curriculum in math, science, social studies, and language arts. For programs using the boot camp concept for orientation, these camps include initial testing, orientation to the program expectations, study tips, and discussions on overcoming barriers to participation. During this time, students and programs are developing success plans. 
  15. Are we Wrong about Bloom’s Taxonomy (1127) The pyramid implies that cognitive processes are discrete, independent of each other. The implication is also that some skills are more difficult, and therefore more important than other skills. The pyramid implies a hierarchial set of skills. Therefore, does this imply that knowledge /remembering are the least important skills and we should, as educators, focus on higher-level skills?Does this implied hierarchy devalue the importance of basic, or foundational knowledge? 



Kathy, thanks for sharing this wonderful list. I'll be digesting that content and reflecting on more to share here. Can't wait to hear from others as we enter a promising 2019!

Happy New Year One and All! Leecy