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Focus On Basics

Volume 1, Issue A :: February 1997

Welcome to Focus on Basics

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Focus on Basics, and thank you to all the state ABE directors and literacy resource centers who are working with us to distribute Focus on Basics as widely as possible.

Focus on Basics is dedicated to fostering constructive partnerships between research and practice. We urge practitioners to become voracious and critical consumers of research, and researchers to seek practitioner input at every step of the research process. So, for our first issue, we asked leading scholars in the field of adult literacy and learning to write, not about their substantive work, but about research itself. Why do it? What can it teach us? What should we be wary of? How can we best use it? What happens when researchers and practitioners join together to examine research findings? We asked outstanding practitioners to address how they use research and how they do their own. We asked scholars, staff developers, and practitioners to advise us on these stories, and, as our editorial board, they helped us guide the authors.

The results are provocative. The writers challenge us to question what we study, why, and how. They remind us that one study never tells the whole story, and that we must be cautious about extrapolating findings from one group to another. At the same time, they demonstrate the enormous resource research provides. For example, Richard Murnane and Bob Bickerton reveal that resources will be even richer as practitioners and researchers work more closely together. Tom Valentine gives us a quick reference that enables us to understand the methodology and findings sections of quantitative research. Karen Backlund and Kathy Bond show us how information gained from research made the difference in an Alaska Learning Program math class; Grace Temple demonstrates how, if you're willing to look, the answer might be out there. And Eileen Barry opens the doors to her classroom, taking us with her as she conducts her own research.

Just as your classes are a work in progress, so is Focus on Basics. Please let us know what you liked about this issue and what you would like to see in the future. We want your thoughts on subject, format, length, as well as your reactions to the substantive content of the articles. We're hoping to launch a "Letters to the Editor" column and will not shy from controversy, so let us know what you think. If you do write a letter to the editor, please include a name, address, and phone number so we can contact you easily.

The next issue of Focus on Basics, due out in May, is on reading, followed by multi-level classrooms in September, and thematic/content-based instruction in December. We are looking for writers and editorial board members and are working hard to represent the geographic, programmatic, and ethnic diversity of the field. Writers are chosen based on the relevance of their work to the field and editorial board members are selected based on their experience with the theme of an issue. If you're interested in either writing or serving as a board member, contact us at World Education, and see the Editorial Board page for more information.

We at the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy are very excited about launching Focus on Basics with this first issue. We hope you enjoy it as well.


Barbara Garner

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL