Doctor of Philosophy
John R. Pisapia
The purpose of this study was to determine the demographic characteristics, instructional approach, perceptions toward inservice training, and awareness and use of adult education theory/principles of public-school affiliated GED instructors in Virginia who teach writing skills for the essay component of the GED Writing Skills Test. An additional purpose of the study was to compare student performance on a sample of GED essays to determine the relationship of student performance with teacher demographic characteristics and teacher instructional approach as identified by the product and process scale scores.
The GED teachers who participated in the study were identified through the cooperation of the Office of Adult Education of the Virginia Department of Education. Of the 169 teachers identified, 113 of them returned survey questionnaires which could be used for data analysis. Only GED programs that were offered through Virginia public schools and reimbursed through state General Adult Education Funds of the Office of Adult Education were used for this study.
Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data on teacher demographics, instructional approach, scale scores, students' essay test scores, and perceptions toward inservice training for the essay component and the awareness and use of adult learning theory/principles in the GED classroom.
Inferential statistics were used to determine significant relationships between groups of teachers in terms of their demographic variables, and between groups of teachers classified as scoring high or low on the scale scores in terms of students' mean essay scores. Also, inferential statistics were used to compare teachers' product and process group membership as defined by scale scores with their self-report classifications and to determine which teacher demographic variables were useful to predict product and process scale scores and student averaged essay test scores.
Among the results indicated by the study were: many teachers who identified themselves as using a combination of the product and process approaches to the teaching of writing skills to adults were not categorized as such by the scale scores; respondents from the surveyed population of GED instructors appeared to be more product oriented in their approach to teaching writing; teachers appear to move away from a strictly product-orientation toward more of a process-orientation as they gain more years of GED teaching experience and as they spend more time with the students; it was inconclusive whether or not any of the approaches to teaching writing skills for the essay component (product, process, or combination) as identified in this study were any better than any of the other approaches: these GED teachers want inservice training to address the addition of the essay component to the Writing Skills Test: and, these teachers appear to have a good understanding of adult education theory/principles and they appear to employ these principles in their classrooms.
Recommendations for future research are presented: these involve conducting a state-wide needs analysis to explore what GED teachers need to become more comfortable about teaching writing skills for the essay component: examining more closely the classroom practices of GED teachers who teach writing skills: and, using larger samples and different sampling techniques.
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