Defining success in adult basic education settings: Multiple stakeholders, multiple perspectives

Elizabeth L. Tighe, Adrienne E. Barnes, Carol M. Connor, Sharilyn C. Steadman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study employed quantitative and qualitative research approaches to investigate what constitutes success in adult basic education (ABE) programs from the perspectives of multiple educational stakeholders: the state funding agency, the teachers, and the students. Success was defined in multiple ways. In the quantitative section of the study, we computed classroom value-added scores (used as a metric of the state's definition of success) to identify more and less effective ABE classrooms in two Florida counties. In the qualitative section of the study, we observed and conducted interviews with teachers and students in the selected classrooms to investigate how these stakeholders defined success in ABE. Iterative consideration of the qualitative data revealed three principal markers of success: (1) instructional strategies and teacher-student interactions, (2) views on standardized testing, and (3) student motivational factors. In general, classrooms with higher value-added scores were characterized by multiple instructional approaches, positive and collaborative teacher-student interactions, and students engaging in goal setting and citing motivational factors such as family and personal fulfillment. The implications for ABE programs are discussed

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-435
Number of pages21
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • Adult
  • Ethnography
  • Instructional strategies, teaching strategies
  • Mixed methods
  • Motivation/engagement
  • Persistence
  • Research methodology
  • Strategies, methods, and materials
  • Struggling learners
  • To learners in which of the following categories does your work apply?

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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