In 2014 VALUEUSA and Research Allies for Lifelong Learning designed a rigorous two-year, mixed methods leadership study, Adult Learner Leadership in Education Services (ALLIES).  In September 2016, Marty Finsterbusch of VALUEUSA and Margaret Patterson of R-ALLY received the Adult Literacy Leadership award from the National Coalition for Literacy for this evaluation and its contributions to adult learner leadership in the field.

  • The purpose of the ALLIES study was to evaluate how adult learners can benefit a program as they pursue their own learning and leadership goals 
  • In 2014-15, the first year, 21 programs in multiple states were selected at random as either participating or control programs, and baseline data were collected from both types of programs. Thirteen participating programs received VALUEUSA leadership training and mentoring support as they developed a learner-led project; eight control programs continued to run their programs as usual
  • Adult learners took surveys on educational experiences and perceptions of leadership, followed by critical thinking and writing assessments. Their interactions with staff were also observed onsite 
  • Staff took electronic surveys on their perceptions of adult learner leadership and provided program-level data 

Data collection was completed in 2015-16, and followed up on changes that occurred with participating programs and learners in contrast with those in the control condition. Part 1 of the Final Year Report, Key Quantitative Findings, was released in September 2016, as the first in a series of reports from the full evaluation. Part 2,  Qualitative Summary, was released in December 2016, and Part 3, Connections of Critical Thinking Measures with Learner Experiences, in January 2017. Part 4, the last report in the series, evaluated Outstanding Leaders in February 2017.

Research Allies for Lifelong Learning