Why they don't practice what we teach: Teachers' perceptions of culture and *context in Adult Basic Education
The methods that teachers use in today's adult basic education classrooms bear a striking resemblance to what Mezirow, Darkenwald, and Knox (1975) observed in their groundbreaking study of ABE nearly thirty years ago. Researchers say that teachers ignore alternative methods and refuse to change. The purpose of this study was to investigate what actually influenced teacher choices and construction of practice as a means of finding a starting point for change.
The question driving the research was, “What are the cultural and contextual factors that inform and shape practice in adult basic education?” Using a qualitative, interpretive approach, fifteen teachers in two counties in North Florida were interviewed and observed over a six-month period. Data sources were interview transcripts, observation field notes, documents, and a journal. The responses and observations of the teachers was compared and analyzed as well as the data on the structure of the two programs.
The findings revealed that at least four major factors inform and shape practice in adult basic education: teachers' conceptions of teaching and learning, accountability, the culture of teaching, and the uncertainty of practice. The author concluded that teaching practice in adult basic education looks as it does because teachers rarely have access to knowledge of alternative teaching methods such as collaborative learning and critical pedagogy, and those that do are also heavily influenced by the cultural and contextual factors that inform and shape adult basic education practice.
0516: Continuing education