Teaching in a new setting: adult basic educators in a national workplace literacy project, a qualitative case study of a national workplace literacy project

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Virginia Tech


Workplace literacy is a movement that has gained popularity in our society in the last decade. Despite the prolific amount of literature on the subject, very little research has been done to determine how teachers are functioning in this new setting. The problem addressed by this study involved how teachers move into a new workplace literacy setting and the issues they face as they establish their classes in this new setting. The purpose of the study was to determine the kinds of issues which teachers might encounter as they move into this setting.

Questions about how teachers experience moving into a workplace literacy setting located at the job site was examined through qualitative research. A case study narrative providing rich description was conducted. about one national workplace literacy project from the beginning of the project throughout the eighteen-month grant period. Classroom observations, participant observations, and interviews were completed. The method of constant comparison was used to analyze the data for patterns of similarity and dissimilarity.

Six principal categories emerged from the data. The findings are presented in six broad categories: (a) a definition of workplace literacy; (b) awareness of company culture; (c) company involvement; (d) the workplace literacy student; (e) the workplace literacy classroom; and (f) the role of the teacher.

From these findings, conclusions were drawn about teacher training materials for individuals in workplace literacy settings. It was determined that a need does exist for a usable teacher's manual containing information regarding workplace literacy programs. Additional research is necessary; one suggestion included replicating this study in another workplace literacy project to determine whether similar issues would emerge.