Equipped for the Future Glossary of Related Terms

Abilities: Enduring attributes of individuals that influence skill development and performance (e.g., cognitive, psychomotor, physical, and sensory.) (Stein, 1997, p.32.)

Cognitive Science: The study of thinking and learning, currently being contributed to by researchers in a wide variety of disciplinary and multidisciplinary fields from developmental psychology to medicine. (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999.)

Cognitive Strategies: Any behavior, thought, or action a learner engages in during learning that is intended to influence the acquisition, storage in memory, integration, or availability for future use of new knowledge and skills. (Weinstein & Hume, 1998; Pressley & Woloshyn, 1995.)

Common Activities: The term EFF uses to refer to those activities that adults perform in three primary roles (worker, family member, community member). The EFF development team identified the 13 Common Activities by looking across the components for each Role Map.

Constructivism: A theory of learning and knowing that holds that learning is an active process of knowledge construction in which learners build on prior knowledge and experience to shape meaning and construct new knowledge. (Lambert & Walker, 1995.)

Content Standards: The term used in a variety of fields to describe what individuals need to know and be able to do for a particular purpose. In EFF, the 16 Content Standards identify what adults need to know and be able to do in order to meet their goals for learning and to be effective in their adult roles. Each EFF Content Standard consists of the title of the standard and the Components of Performance for that standard. The Components of Performance for each skill offer a shared definition of what that skill entails and looks like when applied in the real world; they are designed to be the focus of planning, learning, and assessment. (Stein, 2000, pp.19-23.)

Contextualized Approach: One of the aims of EFF is to support a contextualized approach to education that facilitates not only the acquisition of- but also the active application of knowledge, skills, and learning processes by embedding instruction in real world activities. Teaching and learning is situated in an authentic, real life context that has meaning for the student. (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999, p.50; Merrifield, 1999.10-11; Stein, 2000, pp.20, 85.)

Continuum of Performance: A multidimensional, developmental description of performance on an EFF Standard ranging from the novice level to the expert level. The continuum is built around the four EFF Dimensions of Performance, and performance levels are defined by identifying key features of performance at various points along the continuum. (Stein, 2000, pp.58-59.)

Customers: Adult learners and others-employers, community organizations, legislators, and other key system stakeholders-who benefit directly from a system that prepares adult learners to meet the four purposes of EFF. (Stein, 1997, p.29.)

Dimensions of Performance: The theoretical foundation, based in cognitive science, on which the EFF Continuum of Performance for each skill is built. The Dimensions of Performance identify developmental differences in performance on the EFF Standards related to four areas

  • Structure of the knowledge base: Description of vocabulary, content knowledge, and strategies for organizing and applying content knowledge,
  • Fluency of performance: Description of the ease, fluidity, and automaticity evidenced in performance,
  • Independence of performance: Description of the degree of initiative and self-reliance evidenced in performance, and
  • Range of conditions for performance: Degree to which a task and the contexts of a task are familiar or unfamiliar to the learner, the extent to which tasks are structured (scaffolded) or unstructured, and the complexity of the tasks. (Stein, 2000, pp.55-60; Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999.)

Equipped for the Future (EFF): EFF began as a project of the National Institute for Literacy in 1994. Promoting system reform and accountability, the EFF initiative seeks to improve the adult basic education and literacy system to more effectively assist adults in accomplishing their goals in life. The EFF approach to facilitating program change and improvement includes three main system reform tools: the EFF Content Framework, the EFF Assessment Framework, and supports for implementation of EFF. Equipped for the Future at the Center for Literacy, Education & Employment was created in 1999 to put in place systems for the development and dissemination of training, materials, and technical assistance that support integration of EFF standards and standards-based practices into instruction, assessment, and program management. The EFF Center is located at the Center for Literacy, Education & Employment, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

EFF Assessment Consortium: The EFF Assessment Consortium was created in 2001 to develop and validate an assessment and accountability framework that is aligned with the EFF Content Standards. The Consortium was a partnership funded by the National Institute for Literacy and led by researchers from SRI International, the University of Tennessee, HumRRo, and WestED. Later phases of the EFF research were conducted as a joint project with the Division of Adult Education and Literacy, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE).

EFF Assessment Framework: The EFF Assessment Framework defines levels of performance and measures of performance for a variety of assessment purposes. The Framework describes adult performance along four dimensions (structure of the knowledge base, fluency of performance, independence of performance, and range of conditions for performance). When completed, the Framework will include tools that enable programs using EFF as a framework for instruction to report student progress from level to level on the National Reporting System.

EFF Content Framework: The elements identified through EFF research and development that define the common results the adult learning system aims to achieve. The EFF Content Framework includes the Purposes for Learning, the Role Maps, the Common Activities, and the EFF Content Standards. The Content Framework is one of the primary tools the EFF initiative provides to support program improvement and system accountability.

EFF Quality Model: A vision of what system reform at the program level looks like using EFF Standards. The EFF Quality Model identifies five Program Practices that reflect the theoretical foundations of EFF and provide a guidepost by which administrators, teachers, students, and communities can assess their implementation of the EFF Framework. The EFF tools, foundational theory and research, expected program practices, and predicted short- and long-term outcomes are presented and explained in the publication Results That Matter: An Approach to Program Quality Using Equipped for the Future. (Bingman & Stein, 2001.)

EFF Reading Project: A joint effort of the National Institute for Literacy and the National Center For Family Literacy, the EFF Reading Project created a professional development model to integrate scientifically based research on the teaching of reading into EFF's purposeful and contextual approach to instruction. This approach builds adults' capacity to use skills and knowledge - including reading - to accomplish goals in their lives. The model includes a series of workshops and technical assistance services.

Iterative: A term used in research to refer to the repetition of a cycle of processes with an eye toward moving ever more closely toward desired results. In EFF, the term is used to describe how EFF has progressively refined the concepts and components of EFF through research, feedback from customers and key system stakeholders, incorporation of research developments in related areas, and further feedback from customers. (Merrifield, 2000, pp.4, 7-8.)

LINCS (Literacy Information aNd Communication System): A service of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), LINCS is a comprehensive Internet-based information retrieval and communication system. LINCS features multimedia materials, the latest literacy related research and statistics, online discussion groups, peer-reviewed websites, and resource collections on major literacy topics. Regional center staff are available to connect state and local organizations, practitioners, researchers, and learners.

Mental Model: An individual's existing understanding and interpretation of a given concept, which is formed and reformed on the basis of experiences, beliefs, values, socio-cultural histories, and prior perceptions. Our mental models (or schemas) affect how we interpret new concepts and events. (Lambert & Walker, 1995, p.1.)

Metacognition: An individual's ability to reflect on one's own thinking and to monitor one's own learning. Metacognition is integral to a learner's ability to actively partner in his/her own learning and to facilitate transfer of learning to other contexts. (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 1999.)

Metacognitive strategies: Consisting of knowledge about strategies and about one's own thinking processes. They are the executive managers of knowledge and include planning, monitoring, evaluating, and revising one's own thinking and understanding. Metacognitive strategies include monitoring our thinking while we work, checking to see if what we are learning is consistent with what we already know, and making analogies that will help our understanding. (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 1999; Hartman, 2001.)

National Education Goal Six: One of the national education goals created by the fifty governors and President George Bush at an education summit in 1989 and later enacted by Congress as part of the Goals 2000 Act. Goal Six is the only goal directly related to adult learning and is often referred to as the Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning Goal. It reads: "Every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship." A congressional mandate to measure progress toward Goal Six was the impetus for the development of EFF. (Stein, 1995, pp.3-5; Stein, 1997, pp.1-5; Stein, 2000, pp. 5-7.)

National Institute for Literacy: An independent federal organization created by the National Literacy Act of 1991, the goal of the National Institute for Literacy was to ensure that all Americans with literacy needs have access to services that can help them gain the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the workplace, family, and community in the 21st century. Most of the Institute's funds supported programs and services designed to improve the quality of literacy programs nationwide. This institution is no longer funded. Most of its initiatives were transferred to OVAE.

Performance-based assessment: A tool for measuring student learning that requires the student to construct or produce a response to an assessment item or task. Performance assessments attempt to emulate the context or conditions in which the intended knowledge or skills are actually applied. Examples might include on-demand writing tasks, projects resulting in a product, performance, or event, and portfolios involving a collection of student work related to multiple standards or themes. Performance-based assessment plays an important role in the EFF standards-based education and improvement model. (Ananda, 2000.)

Performance Standards: Descriptions of "how much" an individual knows and "how well" the individual can apply a skill.

Performance Task: A meaningful, real world learning activity that includes all of the components of performance for a standard and provides opportunities for development of all four dimensions of performance. A performance task informs all steps of the instructional planning, teaching, and assessment cycle. (Ananda, 2000; McGuire, 2000.)

Prior Knowledge: The knowledge one already has about a given topic. Prior knowledge may include accurate as well as inaccurate perceptions about how the world works. Activating learners' prior knowledge about a topic and involving them in revising or building on it is an essential step in effective learning. (Hartman, 2001.)

Purposeful Approach: One of the aims of EFF is to support an approach to education that is designed specifically around the goals and purposes of students in their real life roles as workers, family members, and community members. A purposeful approach assumes intentionality, explicitness, and transparency in a learning environment. The EFF Standards contribute to purposeful learning because they make explicit and transparent the skills adults need to meet goals and purposes in life.

Purposes for Learning: The four fundamental purposes that adults offer as reasons for furthering their literacy education:

  • Learning for access and orientation
  • Learning for voice
  • Learning for independent action
  • Learning to build a bridge to the future.
These four purposes, identified through the first year of EFF research, drive learning across the different contexts of adult life and capture the social and cultural significance of learners' specific, individual goals. (Stein, 1995.)

Role: One of the three adult roles addressed by the EFF initiative, including worker, parent/family member, and citizen/community member.

Role Map: A publicly agreed to, explicit, consensus depiction of the adult roles of worker, parent/family member, and citizen/community member. The Role Map provides a definition for each adult role in terms of the Broad Areas of Responsibility, Key Activities, and Role Indicators that describe, not prescribe, effective performance in the role.

Scaffolding: The structure and supports that a teacher or more knowledgeable helper provides to allow a learner to perform a task he or she cannot yet perform independently. (Vygotsky, 1978; Dixon-Krauss, 1996; Wertsch.1991.)

Transfer of Learning: The ability to extend or adapt what has been learned in one context to new problems and settings. Research has shown that when a subject is learned in multiple contexts, with opportunities to abstract general principles, transfer to new situations is increased. (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 1999; Stein, 2000, p.20.)

Transparent Approach: One of the aims of EFF is to support a transparent approach to education in which the purpose, process, and outcomes of teaching and learning are clearly communicated to and clearly understood by students, teachers, administrators, and other key system stakeholders. In a transparent approach, for example, learners should be able to "see through" an instructional placement process (interviews, assessments, etc.) and see a direct connection to what they will be learning, how they will be learning it, and how learning will help them achieve goals in their lives. The EFF Standards are important in this approach because they clearly define the skills adults require to meet their goals and purposes.

Zone of Proximal Development: The distance between what an individual can accomplish independently and what he/she can accomplish with the help of someone who is more competent. (Vygotsky, 1978.)