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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Research Round-up: Experiential Learning, NAEP Scores, Adult Postsecondary Students

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May 14, 2014

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Research Round-up: Experiential Learning, NAEP Scores, Adult Postsecondary Students

Recent research focuses on the importance of relevant, experiential learning and the needs of adult students in postsecondary education. For instance, a Gallup poll of student support and experiential learning found that, regardless the type of college postsecondary graduates attended, if they participated in work-based activities in which they applied their classroom learning--a key component of CTE--as well as played an active role in extracurricular activities and worked on long-term school projects, they were twice as likely to later be engaged at work. However, just 6 percent of respondents strongly agreed that they had all three of these experiences while in postsecondary education.

In addition, 12th-grade students' scores in math and reading were unchanged in 2013 from 2009, as reported in the Nation's Report Card from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Just over a quarter of high school seniors scored at or above the Proficient level in math and 38 percent in reading. Students scored higher who agreed with the statement that taking math will help them in the future, which is in line with previous research on the importance of relevance to student engagement in learning.

Finally, a recent release from Public Agenda, with support from The Kresge Foundation, explores what adult students returning to school need and expect from postsecondary education. According to the authors, almost one-quarter of American adults without a degree are considering enrolling in postsecondary education to complete a credential. Major findings include:

  • Adult students are interested in gaining skills relevant to the workplace, at an affordable tuition and with support systems such as job placement.
  • These students' major concerns are financing their education and working it into their busy lives.
  • Almost 6 in 10 expect to need remedial courses.
  • Most want to take at least some classes online, while doubting if employers value this as highly as face-to-face learning.
  • Many learn about schools by word-of-mouth and don't pursue school performance metrics.

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