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Evaluation of the Scottish Adult Literacy and Numeracy (ALN) Strategy - Final Report

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CHAPTER FIVE: LEARNING, TEACHING AND THE CURRICULUM

5.1 In this section of the questionnaire learners were asked to give their views of what they had been learning, how it had been taught and what they thought of the staff. It is suggested that good practice in terms of learning and teaching should involve 'approaches that are relevant to learners' chosen contexts and goals. Preferred learning styles are identified and respected. Interaction and dialogue between learners are actively promoted and purposeful' ( LIC pack p13). Good practice that relates to the curriculum is that 'learning options are flexible and responsive to diverse needs and aspirations. Knowledge, skills and understanding are developed in context. Learning is presented as a positive and enjoyable experience' ( LIC pack, p14). We therefore asked learners to reflect on the following aspects of their learning programmes: their enjoyment of the programme they had participated in; the quality of the learning programme and the staff and compared their perceptions with the responses given in the first interview.

5.2 Overall, responses were very positive with a greater than 90% satisfaction rating in the majority of indicators. Below are detailed the statistically significant changes in the responses to the questions between the first and second round of interviews. Individual learners first and second round answers were compared using a matched pairs procedure with a sign test used to assess significance. Unless otherwise stated significance is at the 1% level meaning that the likelihood of such an occurrence happening by chance is less that one in a hundred.

5.3 Was the course enjoyable, did it keep your interest?

  • Learners were significantly less likely to indicate that they found the course enjoyable by their second interview (93%) than at their first (97%). This difference is mainly caused by FE learners' (non- FE 96%, FE 85%) decreased enjoyment.
  • Male responses showed a significant change (5% level) from the first to second round of interviews. Ninety-eight per cent of males in the first interview reported finding the course enjoyable compared to 93% at the second interview.
  • Younger learners were significantly (5% level) less likely to report finding the course enjoyable by their second interview (93% 1 st interview, 85% 2 nd interview).

5.4 Did the programme suit the needs of an adult learner?

  • There was an increase in satisfaction between the 1 st and 2 nd interviews (65% 1 st, 90% 2 nd). However, non- FE learners were significantly more likely than FE learners to report that this suited their needs (non- FE 94%, FE 85%).

5.5 Did you attend regularly, go to most sessions?

  • Learners were significantly less likely to indicate that they attended the course regularly by their second interview (94%) than at their first (99%).
  • Females showed a significant change from the first to second round of interviews. Ninety- nine per cent of females in the first interview reported attending regularly compared to 93% at the second interview.
  • Older learners were significantly less likely to report attending the course regularly by their second interview (99% 1 st interview, 94% 2 nd interview).
  • Non- FE learners were also significantly less likely to report attending the course regularly by their second interview (99% 1 st interview, 93% 2 nd interview). There was no similar fall off in attendance among learners in FE provision between their first (100%) and their second interview (98%).

5.6 Learners were then asked about their satisfaction with the learning programme in terms of its structure, the tutors, if it boosted their confidence, if it fitted their needs and if it was at a suitable pace. Below the differences are detailed that were statistically significant between the 2 interviews. There was no difference in satisfaction with the pace of tuition between the two interviews.

5.7 Did you find that the learning programme was well structured?

  • By the second interview learners were significantly (5% level) less likely to feel that their course was well structured. Ninety-five per cent of learners 'agreed or strongly agreed' that the course was well structured at the first interview while 92% 'agreed or strongly agreed' that it was well structured by the second interview.

5.8 Did you find that the learning programme had good tutors?

  • By the second round of interviews learners were significantly (5% level) less likely to agree that they had good tutors. Ninety-eight per cent of learners 'agreed or strongly agreed' that they had good tutors at the first round of interviews compared to 92% who reported this at the second interview.
  • When the data is examined by age there is a small but significant (5% level) change in the opinions of older learners from the first to second round of interviews. Ninety-eight per cent of older learners 'agreed or strongly agreed' that they had good tutors at the first interview compared to 95% at the second interview.

5.9 Did you find that the learning programme boosted your confidence?

  • By the second interview males were slightly, but significantly (5% level), less likely to 'agree or strongly agree' that the learning programme had boosted their confidence (93% 1 st interview, 89% 2 nd interview).

5.10 Were staff encouraging, took time to attend to any difficulties you had?

  • Females were significantly less likely in the second interview to 'agree or strongly agree' that staff took time to attend to any difficulties they had than they were in the first interview (97% 1 st interview, 91% 2 nd interview).

5.11 Did staff give you enough feedback on your progress?

  • By the second interview learners were slightly but significantly (5% level) less likely to agree that staff gave them enough feedback on progress. Ninety-three per cent of learners 'agreed or strongly agreed' that they received enough feedback at the first round of interviews compared to 89% who reported this at the second interview.
  • The data by age shows a significant (5% level) change in the opinions of younger learners from the first to second round of interviews. Ninety-four per cent of younger learners 'agreed or strongly agreed' at the first round of interviews that they received enough feedback compared to 85% who indicated this at the second interview.

5.12 These slight increases in negativity appear to be due to learners raising their expectations of learning, teaching and the curriculum over time. Many ALN learners who have negative memories of school are likely to be very positive about educational experiences that are learner centred and focused on their needs (see McGivney, 2001). Once these positive experiences of returning to education become accepted then they are likely to become more critical. The larger increases in dissatisfaction amongst male younger learners and those in FE could be due to their more recent experience of school and also being in an environment where the curriculum was more structured by Scottish Qualification Agency ( SQA) assessment requirements. This means that feedback on progress was likely to be less frequent and detailed. It should also be remembered that learners were overwhelmingly positive about all aspects of their programmes so these slight reductions in satisfaction are not indicative of a significant problem. Indeed it is a criterion of the evaluation framework for teaching, learning and the curriculum that learners should become more critical so this may be an outcome of their experience of being encouraged to become more critical.

Summary

5.13 Learners were overwhelmingly positive about all aspects of their learning programmes with a 90% satisfaction rate on most aspects of their experience. However, there were slight increases in negativity, which were statistically significant, between the 2 rounds of interviews in relation to the course being enjoyable, the learning programme being well-structured, the tutors being good, learners having their confidence boosted and having enough feedback on progress. These differences were also differently experienced by the overall sample. There were statistically significant decreases in enjoyment by learners attending FE provision, female learners were significantly less likely to find staff encouraging, older learners were significantly more dissatisfied with their tutors and younger ones were significantly more likely to report that they did not get enough feedback.