Improving Adult Literacy with Technology

According to the Barbara Bush Foundation, which has established a competition challenging teams of developers, educators, engineers, and innovators to create mobile literacy learning applications for adult learners, 36 million U.S. adults lack basic English literacy.

Low-literate adults have difficulty with such things as reading over-the-counter medicine labels, completing a job application, opening a bank account, and more. Studies show that improving adult literacy could save the country an estimated $230 billion in extra healthcare costs. Even a one percent rise in literacy skill scores can increase labor productivity by as much as 2.5 percent, boosting output by as much as $225 billion.

Existing programs provided by nonprofits and public agencies offer only direct, in-person services, often in a classrooms or small groups. These programs cannot meet the needs of the millions of low-literate adults in the United States.

Merit Software’s programs in adult literacy have a strong track record of effectiveness.

Merit programs cover a variety of skills and a broad range of levels. Plus, Merit offers a clean, straightforward interface and as well as content that is suitable for older students.

Learn more about Merit’s adult literacy software at www.meritsoftware.com.

Preventing Fadeout in Interventions

Persistence and Fadeout in the Impacts of Child and Adolescent Interventions,” a new research paper that has gotten a lot of attention in the education press, the authors conclude that when interventions target cognitive skills or behaviors, capacities or beliefs, promising impacts at the end of programs often fade out quickly.

On the other hand, the authors believe interventions that target what they call “trifecta” skills,” skills that are malleable, fundamental, and unlikely to develop in the absence of intervention are long-lasting. These are interventions that persist.

A key “trifecta” intervention includes advanced literacy and communication skills, a focus of Merit Software.

Helping Students Adapt to New World Realities

Students need opportunities to succeed in a rapidly changing world. The impact of current turmoil in China on the world economy is only one example of how quickly things can change, and the need to adapt. Deeper learning is a term for skills and knowledge that will help students succeed in the classroom and on the job in twenty-first century life.

A recent survey of Fortune 500 companies shows the most valuable skills an employee can have in the twenty-first century are skills that are the focal points of deeper learning: teamwork, problem solving, and communication. Students who have mastered the full deeper learning skill set can set their own goals and adapt to new circumstances. The core of deeper learning is a group of six competencies summarized below.

  1. Mastery of core academics, such as reading, writing, math, and science.
  2. Learning to solve complex problems.
  3. Learning teamwork
  4. Learning to communicate effectively.
  5. Learning how to learn, which includes working well independently but asking for help when needed.
  6. Developing academic mindsets, which includes students seeing work through to completion and understanding the relevance of school work to their lives and interests.

This is where Merit fits in.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students need to succeed.

Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels. Built-in hints and tips support students while they work,

Progress automatically tracked in an easy-to-use tracking tool for students and instructors.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

Improving Employability and Academic Skills How Merit Can Help

A recent survey of Kentucky Chamber of Commerce members bemoans the lack of “soft skills” or employability skills among prospective employees. In fact, 27% of employers surveyed report a need for improvement of these skills. Such skills include communication, teamwork, motivation, and the like.

Among the reasons students struggle in college and later in the workplace are lack of motivation or persistence and inadequate preparation, say the authors of a new report from Achieve.org.

Merit’s personalized learning software has built-in scaffolds and supports. The programs motivate students while they work. This enhances both academic and employability skills.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

 

New Enhancements to Punch Writing Programs

Merit is pleased to announce new enhancements to its Punch process writing programs including Paragraph Punch, Open Punch, and Essay Punch.

Students who have completed a written work may now edit it by logging into their Online Portfolios.

The Post Published Editing tool allows users to see the current state of their work, review past versions, and print their newly updated paragraphs. The paragraph as it was initially published will be preserved both on the Published Paragraph screen, and on the Post Published Edits screen under the title “Original.”

New-Punch-Tools

The improved editing functionality has been seamlessly integrated into the software and is backwardly compatible with all previously completed written works.

Learn more about the Punch writing programs:

Starter Paragraph Punch

Paragraph Punch

Open Punch

Essay Punch

 

It’s Time to Level the Playing Field So More Students Can Compete Academically

FriendsWhile students respond positively to teachers who set high academic expectations, teachers often fail to set these expectations for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A report from the Center for American Progress entitled “The Power of the Pygmalion Effect” indicates that teacher expectations strongly predict college completion.

Data suggest that more needs to be done to improve teachers’ instructional skills and to dispel social stereotypes.

Teachers do not get the rigorous training they need and most teacher prep programs do not give training in high-performing, high-poverty schools, according to the report.

This is where Merit fits in.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students require to succeed.

Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels. Built-in hints and tips support students while they work.

Progress is automatically monitored in an easy-to-use tracking tool for instructors.

The software is adaptive and adjusts to a suitable level of challenge with minimal teacher intervention.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

 

 

The High Price of Colleges’ Failures

Happy businessman with laptop smilingRecent college graduates who are struggling to start careers are being hurt by their lack of learning, according to Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, authors of the groundbreaking book, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.”

In the original study, the authors had a sample of four-year undergraduates take the Collegiate Learning Assessment during their freshman year. The same students then took the CLA again during their senior year, and their scores saw very little change. The test includes essay-based critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communication skills questions.

A recently published follow-up study of the same students,tracking them for two years following graduation, found skills measured by high-scoring CLA students had made a significant difference to finding and keeping a first job.

Students who had higher CLA scores had spent more time studying alone and took classes where teachers enforced high expectations, such as writing long papers.

Low CLA scoring students were twice as likely to lose their jobs as high CLA students, implying employers can tell who got a good college education and who did not. Low CLA scoring graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Articles about the follow-up study are here, here, and here.

Merit Software helps build the skills that are highly correlated with high CLA scores, including critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communications skills.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students require to succeed. Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels.

Built-in hints and tips support students while they work. Progress is automatically monitored in an easy-to-use tracking tool for instructors. The software is adaptive and adjusts to a suitable level of challenge with minimal teacher intervention.

Recommended resources:

Funding Opportunity for U.S. Non-Profits

Last week, a leading U.S. foundation announced its intention to fund promising programs to improve career opportunities for teens and adults.

A deployment of Merit literacy software appears to fit within the foundation’s criteria.

The deadline to apply is August 9th. Applicants may apply for amounts between $25,000 and $250,000 for one year.

Interested parties should contact Merit for additional information.