Graduate School of Education
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PublicationReview of R.V. Kail, Jr. and J.W. Hagen (Eds.), Perspectives on the Development of Memory and Cognition, and D.G. Bobrow and A. Collins (Eds.), Representation and Understanding: Studies in Cognitive Science(1978) Wagner, Daniel AThe use of narrative and other prose forms as a tool for investigating mental processes is not new. Psychologists such as Jean Piaget and F.C. Bartlett both used stories in research on complex cognitive skills in children and adults. However, with the advent of Ebbinghaus' monumental work on memory using "non-sense syllables," theoretical psychology turned away from the use of meaningful material. With the use of nonsense syllables, researchers hoped to isolate the variables of memory and individual content associations. Recently, there has been a renewal of interest in the study of narrative and memory due to the recognition that narrative taps certain processes that syllables and isolated words do not. In addition, narrative and memory studies have generated interest among those researchers concerned with the applicability of memory studies to educational settings. PublicationNew Technologies for Adult Literacy and International Development(2009-01-01) Wagner, Daniel AFew areas of social and economic development have received as much attention and as few proportionate resources as adult literacy. Across the world – in both industrialized and developing countries alike – it is widely acknowledged that at most, 5 percent of national education budgets is spent on the roughly 50 percent of the adult population in need of increased literacy skills. For several centuries, it has been variously claimed that literacy – a key (if not the key) product of schooling – would lead to economic growth, social stability, a democratic way of life, and other social 'good things.' Detailed historical reviews have not been so kind to such generalizations (see several chapters in Wagner, Venezky & Street, 1999; also UNESCO, 2005), in that literacy 'campaigns,' in particular, were often more politically inspired than practically implemented (Wagner, 1986). General notions of national economic growth have been said to have a similar set of positive consequences for the poor. However, both universal literacy and universal economic growth have suffered from what has been called at times 'development fatigue' – namely, that governments and international agencies have come to feel that significant toil and funding have led to only limited return on investment. PublicationOn Being an Adolescent in Zawiya. Review of Susan S. Davis and Douglas A. Davis, Adolescence in a Moroccan Towan: Making Social Sense(1991) Wagner, Daniel A; Puchner, Laurel DianaAlthough adolescence is a well-accepted stage of life in Western society, the issue of whether it exists as a separate life stage in all cultures remains an open and important question. As part of the cross-cultural Harvard Adolescence Project directed by Beatrice and John Whiting, this book is an assessment of traditional concepts of adolescence in Morocco. Based on 11 months of intensive fieldwork, as well as multiple years of work in the same village, the authors used ethnographic observation, interviews, and psychological testing to collect a wide array of data on about 50 families including 150 children in the rural Moroccan town of Zawiya. Recurring themes in the lives of these adolescents, including maturity, self-awareness, gender, hierarchy, and ambivalence, are interwoven into a discussion of the basic social organization of Moroccan life. PublicationLiteracy Campaigns: Past, Present, and Future. Review of Robert F. Arnove and Harvey J. Graff (Eds.), National Literacy Campaigns: Historical and Comparative Aspects; Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo, Literacy: Reading the Word and the World; Ali Hamadache and Daniel Martin, Theory and Practice of Literacy Work: Policies, Strategies and Examples(1989-05-01) Wagner, Daniel AThe topic of literacy seems to be returning to the top of the development agenda. Since the 1960s, with UNESCO's Experimental World Literacy Programme (EWLP), there has been a drift away from large-scale literacy programs for development, if not in the minds of Third World educators, then at least in the minds of development planners in major policy-making centers such as the World Bank, UN agencies, and bilateral funding agencies. Perhaps this was due to the problems of EWLP (described in A. Gillette's chapter in Arnove & Graff) or simply to economists' reactions to literacy as a "basic human right," which may have struck policymakers as not sufficiently linked to development outcomes such as economic growth, improved agricultural practices, and so forth. At least part of the resurgence of interest in literacy stems from the realization that illiteracy is not just a Third World problem; attention to and research on illiteracy in North American and Europe have been growing rapidly over the past several years (see L. Limage's chapter in Arnove & Graff).1 The present volumes are primarily focused on the "campaign" and mass education dimensions of literacy. Each volume addresses national and international efforts to achieve greater literacy among adult populations, principally in Third World countries. PublicationLiteracy and Adult Education: Thematic Studies(2000-04-01) Wagner, Daniel AThe 1990 World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) in Jomtien, Thailand, included adult literacy as one of its six major worldwide goals. Although the complete elimination of illiteracy by the year 2000 was adopted as a goal of UNESCO and a significant number of its Member States in the Udaipur Declaration of two decades ago, the Jomtien Conference scaled back such promises, and chose a more modest, and theoretically achievable, goal of cutting illiteracy rates in half by the year 2000. The reasons for this reduction in targeted goal were numerous. As this report describes, important gains have been made in literacy and adult education over the decade since Jomtien – in various places and using various methods – but the overall literacy situation remains one of the major concerns of the twenty-first century. PublicationTo Read or Not to Read: The Enduring Question of Low Adult Literacy in America(1995-10-25) Wagner, Daniel AIn 1990, America's governors reached a historic consensus on a set of national educational goals as targets for the year 2000. Among these national goals was that " ... every adult American shall be literate." While this goal was widely applauded by those in the literacy community, much more national attention (and nearly 15 times the budgetary resources) has been devoted to the other goals that focus almost exclusively on improving the formal K-12 school system. Now, with the new Adult Education Act, welfare-reform legislation pending in Congress, and renewed debate over the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the troubling (and enduring) question of low-literate Americans is back in the news. PublicationReading Acquisition in Morocco(1986) Wagner, Daniel A; Spratt, Jennifer EWhile interest in reading and writing has always been important to researchers and educational policy-makers, multidisciplinary investigations of the acquisition of literacy are a relatively new enterprise. In the Arabic-speaking wrold, in particular, there have been relatively few efforts to discover what kinds of literacy abilities the child brings to the classroom, and what kinds of home, preschool, and language environments lead to various levels of literacy both in and out of school. The research described here presents data collected during the first three years of the Morocco Literacy Project, whose general aim has been to investigate the process of literacy acquisition and retention in Morocco. The present paper will consider the effects of preschool experience and language background on a sample of primary school children living in contrastin rural and urban environments in Morocco. PublicationQuality, Learning, and Cultural Comparisons: Trade-Offs in Educational Policy Development(2014-01-01) Wagner, Daniel AWith the advent of the United Nations Education First initiative, and considering the continued efforts to focus on the quality of education in low-income countries, there has been a renewed interest in the improvement of learning (as distinct from school attendance) in poor and marginalized populations (Wagner, Murphy, and de Korne, 2012).1 There is a large and diverse empirical research base in the area of human learning. Yet much of the available research is substantially limited by boundary constraints of various kinds. Most prominent among them is the limited ability to generalize from findings in one population context to other distinct population contexts. Similarly, research methods may vary greatly between one set of studies and another, making it difficult to discern whether the findings vary due to the methods or to other factors. These are classic problems in the social sciences, and inevitably lead to substantive trade-offs in how policy development takes place in education. PublicationMeasuring Literacy through Household Surveys: A Technical Study on Literacy Assessment and Related Education Topics through Household Surveys(1989) Wagner, Daniel A; Srivastava, A.B.L.This study on Measuring Literacy through Household Surveys is one of a series of technical studies undertaken by the Statistical Office of the United Nations in Pursuance of the National Household Survey Capability Programme, to assist developing countries in the organization of household surveys. PublicationWhat Happened to Literacy? Historical and Conceptual Perspectives on Literacy in UNESCO(2011-05-01) Wagner, Daniel AFor more than six decades, UNESCO has dedicated itself to be the international agency leader in literacy, even though other aspects of educational development have received greater attention and resources by the broader international community. Resources for UNESCO's literacy work have not increased, and its programmatic activities have been increasingly debated when seen in relationship to the scope of literacy challenges across the globe. Moving forward in a time of restricted budgets will require UNESCO to strengthen itself as a professional innovator and thought leader.