Two Shenandoah University faculty members in the Division of Education and Leadership recently were recognized for their research on the use of technology in adult foundational education.
SU Professor and Department Chair of Leadership Studies Catherine Shiffman, Ph.D., and Adjunct Associate Professor of Education Research and Leadership Paula (PJ) Malachias ’18, Ed.D., along with colleague Margaret Patterson, Ph.D., of the Research Allies for Lifelong Learning, earned the “Exemplary Paper” award from the Adult Learning and Adult Education Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). The trio received the award during the 2023 AERA Annual Meeting on April 13-16.
Drs. Shiffman, Malachias and Patterson presented their paper, “Professional Learning on Using Technology Optimally (PLUTO) in adult foundational education: Pilot results,” on April 16. The paper is part of a research study that they have been conducting since 2020, which explores educators’ use of technology to support instruction in adult foundational education courses (e.g., GED, adult ESL), the relevant professional learning that educators participated in, and the perceived benefits of that professional learning in four states: Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada and Vermont.
The research included a pilot survey on technology use and related professional learning, which was completed by 53 adult foundational education (AFE) practitioners and revealed new information on current AFE practitioner perceptions, practices and professional learning needs. Additionally, the findings provide insights to guide and support integrating technology into AFE instruction.
There’s simply not enough research on this topic despite a real need. Instructors and programs are expected to support adult learners’ technology skill development for career, college and family roles in children’s education. These expectations intensified during the pandemic shutdowns. PLUTO provides baseline data about how adult educators are integrating technology into instruction and the professional learning that supports their efforts. The findings can help policymakers and adult education programs design strategic supports for adult learners and educators.”
Catherine Shiffman, Ph.D., Shenandoah Professor and Department Chair of Leadership Studies
Shenandoah University provided support for the research, added Shiffman, who said she received a single-discipline faculty grant from SU in Fall 2021 that supported her team’s data collection efforts in 2022.
Shiffman, Malachias and Patterson are finishing up their analysis and writing this spring and summer.
“Our continued research will contribute new knowledge and recommendations to support the integration and use of technology for adult education leaders, instructors, and learners,” Malachias said. “With the ever-changing technology landscape, this ongoing work is imperative for meeting the needs of adult learners and those who serve them.”