Positioning the findings within the study’s theoretical framework

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Pedagogical content knowledge

Pedagogical content knowledge refers to the adult educator’s knowledge of pedagogical methods and strategies (Shulman, 1987). This knowledge and the related principles translate into enhanced competencies and success in adult learning pedagogy (McLeod et al., 2003). It is based on understanding various ways of presenting information through explanations, illustrations, examples and demonstrations so that the adult learners grasp the subject matter. Literature shows that all adult educators are expected to possess a considerable amount of knowledge on adult learning pedagogy (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1999; Shulman, 1987; Siraj-Blatchford et al., 2002). According to Cochran (1991), the nature of pedagogical content knowledge is made up of the knowledge of general pedagogical methods, which are unique to each adult educator or teacher. It provides an understanding of what teachers know about pedagogy and the content they teach to specific adult learners. It also encompasses the teacher’s knowledge of the adult learners in terms of their abilities, adult learning strategies, aspirations and prior knowledge.
It is also associated with the understanding of aspects that are related to the learning difficulties that are experienced by adult learners on certain topics of a particular subject matter. Cochran (1991) explains that teachers should be engaged in a transformational process with the learners. Teachers should organise knowledge of the subject matter, interpret it, find ways of communicating with adult learners and help them to understand the lesson. The other important component associated with pedagogical content knowledge is understanding the political, social, economic, physical and cultural environment in which learning is organised (Shulman, 1986). These are contexts with specific domains in which knowledge is constructed, attitudes are formed and human behaviour is modelled and have the potential to influence the pedagogical process (Erguig, 2012).
Research evidence shows that content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge are critical elements in a successful educational programme (Gess-Newsome, 1999). According to Cochran (1991) it has been established that teachers who have no pedagogical experience, possess superficial and incomplete pedagogical content knowledge. They often rely on direct extraction of subject matter from the curriculum. Their knowledge of the subject matter and presentation of information to learners lack a coherent logical framework. Hashweh (2005) found that pedagogical content knowledge is also generated from the pedagogical practice teachers engage in. The repeated practices of teaching a particular topic bring about knowledge construction. Thus, it can be said that teachers generate their own pedagogical practices which reflect their values and orientations to the discipline.
The literature indicates that the development of pedagogy is influenced by a range of factors that include research, theories, political influence, development agendas, professional training, pedagogical experiences and life experiences. However, the prominent ways through which facilitators acquire content knowledge are from training, from pedagogical experiences and from school curricula (Liu, Zandvliet, and Hou, 2012). Fundamentally, training plays an important role in the mastering of theory and practice of a subject matter (Paris, 2012). It helps the facilitator to acquire different skills of how and when to use a particular strategy to achieve a particular goal. Jüttner, Boone, Park and Neuhaus (2013) found that knowledge of pedagogy involves organising learning outcomes, lesson planning and facilitating interactive learning. When the facilitator is devoid of this knowledge, pedagogy is likely to be impacted negatively.
Recent studies on effective practice are pointing to the continuous interaction between what is known in theory and from pedagogical experience (Allen, Webb, and Matthews, 2016; Arbaugh, Marra, Lannin, Cheng, Merle-Johnson, and Smith, 2016; Argüelles, 2016; Girvan, Conneely, and Tangney, 2016; Johnson, Stribling, Almburg, and Vitale, 2015). These researchers found that practice in the teaching profession, as may be the case with other professions, is shaped by the practitioners’ theoretical understanding of what teaching is, what learning is, and how they view learning interactions within the classrooms or in an educational setting (Kleickmann et al., 2013). Although this understanding is influenced by the teacher’s pre-service training, a great deal of it is informed by their experiential knowledge acquired through personal life experiences (Girvan et al., 2016; Kolb, 2014). It has been noted that experiential knowledge can be unconscious and intuitive, and can have a significant influence on the decisions that are made by practitioners in their practice (Kukner, 2015).
In view of this understanding, it is important at this stage to review pedagogical practices associated with adult learning. I have classified them into two categories: practices based on understanding the adult learner and practices associated with pedagogical approaches and strategies.

Pedagogical practices based on knowledge of the adult learner

Understanding adult learners, especially in a situated context, is important in the pedagogy of adult literacy. The aspirations of adult learners and their reasons for joining a literacy class are often shaped by their contexts. Fasokun, Katahoire and Oduaran (2005), and Merriam et al. (2012) established that adult learners are typified by their rotating social and economic roles of learning. They play the social roles of parents, guardians or spouses and they are engaged in various productive economic activities to earn a living.
These activities result in the accumulation of knowledge that is based on different experiences which they bring with them to class. This is a unique feature which distinguishes them from children (Brookfield, 1986; Kolb, 2014). Studies by Biryukova, Yakovleva, Kolesova, Lezhnina and Kuragina (2015), Gebre, Rogers, Street and Openjuru (2009), and Nabi, Rogers, and Street (2009) found that adult learning programmes have higher chances of success if they recognise and incorporate the knowledge and life experiences of their adult learners. The significance of this is that life experiences of adult learners are a reflection of attitudes, behaviours and patterns of thoughts which have a potential to either enhance or hinder adult learning. According to Boghossian (2012) adult learners create knowledge and meaning from their experiences which become crucial for facilitating adult learning. However, the literature reflects minimal research on the integration of adult learners’ knowledge and life experiences in most adult learning programmes. The common trend has been that of transferring ready-made programmes by educationalists to different communities for implementation.
Pedagogical practices associated with understanding adult learners’ accumulated knowledge and life experiences would include informal engagement with adult learners outside the formalised power relations of the facilitator and the adult learner, the use of objective probing techniques, and engaging in dialogue and using narratives where adult learners can share their personal life experiences and understanding of the subject at hand (Spector, 2015; Rossiter, 2002). In addition, the pedagogical methods have to be participatory and learner-focused in which adult learners feel confident to express themselves. Adult learners can also be asked to write and reflect on their own story about the subject matter (Bullock, 2014).
Another attribute is the diversity in adult learning styles and abilities among adult learners. This is critical to adult learning especially because many adult learning programmes are organised in different settings under different conditions. Brookfield (1995, 1986), and Merriam et al. (2012) indicate that just as adult learners differ in several other attributes, they also differ in their individual learning styles and abilities. For example, some adult learners may learn best through observing other people, listening to others, seeing a demonstration, role play, discussions or through stories. Some adult learners may learn best when they are directly guided throughout the learning process. Boon and Kurvers (2015) found that some adults prefer to be taught like children, yet others feel uncomfortable when this is done. This and many other studies (Biryukova et al., 2015; Boon & Kurvers, 2015; Boon, 2011; Brookfield, 1986; Bullock, 2014; Carpenter, 1967; Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982; Kerka, 2002; & Rogers, 2005) have resulted in a persistent argument on whether or not there is a difference in learning styles between adults and children.
Research findings show some overlaps in the way adults and children are taught as well as significant distinguishable variations (Hughes and Schwab, 2010; Vaughn et al., 2015; Widin, Yasukawa & Chodkiewicz, 2012;). For example, it is becoming increasingly clear that adults are more independent and self-directed learners than children. Their multiple socio-economic roles and responsibilities compel them to learn how to apply knowledge for immediate use as opposed to children (Biryukova et al., 2015; Polson, 1993; Rogers & Horrocks, 2010). This is a reason why adult learners are often described as focused and goal oriented in their learning. As such, they are known to join learning programmes consciously and voluntarily for a particular and specific purpose.
Therefore, in view of the existing arguments, it can be said that understanding differences in adult learners may play an important role in reframing and modifying the pedagogies that are necessary for achieving desired learning. This would involve using eclectic pedagogical practices that comprise, for example, of story-telling, panel or forum discussions, dialogue, field trips, apprenticeship, role plays and possibly drama. These strategies will allow the educator to address his or her adult learners’ diversities in learning styles and abilities.

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According to Brookfield (1995), the significance of this is that it helps learners realise their self-esteem and confidence: subsequently, it avoids under-estimating their potential and deals with anxieties such as the fear of failure. The latter has the potential to hinder adult learners from getting actively involved in learning activities. Therefore, a good facilitator is expected to take all these issues into consideration and to employ different pedagogical strategies to help learners in their efforts to attain learning goals.
Another essential attribute of adult learners is their expectations of the educator or facilitator and the learning programme. Naturally, every person would develop different expectations of an event or activity that they are to attend. Similarly, adult learners have different expectations of the learning situation and processes involved. For example, considering the important role played by the educator in adult learning, learners may have several expectations of the educator on issues that include how knowledgeable the educator is in the subject matter, the educator’s interest and passion for his or her work, her/his competence, and what the adult learners are likely to learn. Ball, Thames and Phelps (2008), Brookfield (1986), Burgess (2016), and Kleickmann et al. (2013) confirm that some learners are interested in interacting with the an educator who has a detailed understanding of the subject matter: they enjoy learning when the educator displays a firm understanding of the subject and when the lesson is characterised by clear explanations, illustrations and the use of appropriate examples. In addition, in a study which focused on two educators, Erguig (2012) found that passion is also another important factor to be considered in stimulating and enhancing the learners’ interest in the process of learning. He found that the educator who is passionate about what they do is likely to inspire and encourage learners to achieve their goals as opposed to someone who is not passionate.
The educator should be someone who is eager and committed to helping adult learners to learn. By so doing the educator will be representing a model of good practice that will motivate the learners to learn (Biryukova et al., 2015; Brookfield, 1995; Grigsby, 1988).
Notwithstanding which pedagogical approach the educator follows, it is essential that he or she employs some form of assessment to understand the adult learners’ expectations right from the beginning of the learning cycle. This assessment can either be written or oral and is used to form an idea of what the learners expect from the class and also to understand their motivations for joining the class (Ginsburg & Gal, 1996; Girvan et al., 2016; Rochat & Rossier, 2016; Van Vliet, Winnips, & Brouwer, 2015). Nonetheless, even if adult learners’ expectations are known, it is not always easy to meet them as aspirations and abilities tend to differ among learners. Therefore, Drago-Severson (2011), and Grigsby (1988) advise that this can be harmonised by the educator through carefully explaining the aim of the learning activity to the learners as honestly and clearly as possible.
The importance of having knowledge of adult learners as discussed in the foregoing is that it should help educators make decisions on a number of pedagogical considerations. It should guide them to decide on what to teach when to teach and fundamentally how to teach. Therefore, this leads to the need to review the existing pedagogical approaches, methods and strategies used for teaching in adult learning specifically in the teaching of literacy practices.

CHAPTER ONE   INTRODUCING AND CONTEXTUALISING THE STUDY  
1.1 Background and context of the study
1.2 Non-formal adult literacy-learning in Zambia: an historical overview
1.3 The training of professional adult literacy educators in Zambia
1.4 Rationale and motivation for studying pedagogical practices
1.5 Purpose and focus of the study
1.6 Research questions
1.7 Clarification of key concepts
1.8 Overview of the research design and methodology
1.9 Conclusion
CHAPTER TWO   LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Adult learning pedagogy
2.3 Conducive pedagogical environments
2.4 Non-formal adult learning
2.5 Conclusion
CHAPTER THREE FRAMING THE STUDY THEORETICALLY
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Views on theory
3.3 Theories of adult learning pedagogy
3.4 Cognitive and sociocultural adult literacy pedagogy
3.5 Consolidating the theoretical framework for this study
3.6 The theoretical framework that underpinned this study
3.7 Adult literacy as social practices theory
3.8 Adult learning as experiential learning theory
3.9 Pedagogical implications of the theoretical framework
3.10 Conclusion
CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Research paradigm: Interpretive
4.3 Research approach: Qualitative
4.4 Research methodology
4.5 Sampling of the research site and the participants
4.6 Research methods: Data generation and collection
4.7 Data analysis
4.8 Quality assurance measures
4.9 Ethical measures
4.10 Conclusion
CHAPTER FIVE PRESENTATION OF THE FINDINGS
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Research questions
5.3 Theme 1: Conceptualisation of adult literacy-learning
5.4 Theme 2: Pedagogical practices in adult literacy classes
5.5 Theme 3: Pedagogical resources
5.6 Theme 4: Participation in adult literacy classes
5.6 Conclusion
CHAPTER SIX DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Theme 1: Conceptualisation of adult literacy-learning
6.3 Theme 2: Pedagogical practices in adult literacy classes
6.4 Theme 3: Pedagogical resources
6.5 Theme 4: Participation in adult literacy classes
6.6 Summary of the findings: evidence from literature and new insights
6.7 Conclusion
CHAPTER SEVEN CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Summary of the study
7.3 Positioning the findings within the study’s theoretical framework
7.4 Conclusions based on the research questions
7.5 Limitations of the study
7.6 Implications and recommendations of the study
7.7 Implications for providers of adult literacy-learning programmes
7.8 Implications for facilitators’ professional development
7.9 Implications for research on pedagogical practices
7.10 Recommendations for future studies
7.11 Conclusion
References

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