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Updated Workplace Literacy Annotated Bibliography

by Perrine Robinson-Geller

This publication is an update to a previous OLRC workplace literacy bibliography and contains resources from 1993 to the present. Items were selected for inclusion based on a number of different criteria: they had to be of high quality, have practical use, and be readily available to a wide audience of workplace literacy practitioners. Curriculum packages and program descriptions have not been included. Materials were located by ERIC searches and by discussions with active workplace literacy practitioners and the OLRC staff. Some of the materials are geared for people who are new to workplace literacy education, and some of them are aimed at experienced workplace literacy educators.

Information about where items can be acquired is listed with each entry. If you have trouble locating an item, contact the OLRC. A more comprehensive workplace literacy annotated bibliography, with over 320 entries, is available from the National Workforce Assistance Collaborative. (See Other Resources for more details.)


Adult Educators and Workplace Literacy: Designing Customized Basic Skills Instruction. Eunice N. Askov and Barbara Van Horn, Adult Basic Education, Volume 3, No. 2, Summer 1993. 115-125.

This straight-forward article highlights some of the issues that an educator faces when designing workplace literacy instruction, making the point that it is necessary to understand the goal of the instruction. For example, if the goal is training for the demands of new technology or the changing workplace, then a customized curriculum may be needed. This article provides suggestions for designing customized basic skills instruction using work-related reading materials. It also includes a reference list for further reading.

Choosing the Right Training Program: A Guide Book for Small Business. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement and U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the American Workplace, 1994.

Many university, college, and larger public libraries have a collection of Government Documents; this booklet may be available for borrowing from one of these sources. It is also available for purchase from the United States Government Bookstore, Federal Building, Room 1653, 1240 East 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44199. Telephone: (216) 522-4922; Fax: (216) 522-4714. Orders must be pre-paid and reference both the title and the stock number, S/N 065-000-00635-9. Make checks payable to Superintendent of Documents. Cost: $3.25.

This booklet, primarily aimed at small businesses, is designed to help analyze training needs, determine a company's expectations and limitations, locate resources, and compare and contrast effective training programs. The workplace educator may find this widely-distributed book useful for understanding what businesses are looking for and how they may be approaching the issue of workplace education.


Models of Excellence: A Review of Ohio's Award Winning Workplace Literacy Programs. Len Proper, 1994. Alliance for Workforce Excellence Publication #94-01. Obtainable from Office of Workforce Development, Ohio Bureau of Employment Services, 145 South Front Street, Room 678, Columbus, OH 43215. Telephone: (614) 466-0582. Cost: $3.50.

This booklet describes the eighteen workplace literacy programs that have received the Ohio Governor's Workplace Excellence Awards. It contains good information about different approaches to establishing a successful workplace literacy program. Each program description includes the following: company description; developing stakeholder support; assessing workplace skills; designing the learning program; implementing the learning program; evaluating results; and contact information. Someone new to a work-place literacy program may find the Developing Stakeholder Support sections particularly interesting because they contain information about different ways to generate support and enthusiasm for workplace literacy education.

Center on Education and Work, University of Wisconsin - Madison

The following four publications from the Center on Education and Work can be ordered by writing to: Center on Education and Work, School of Education, University of Wisconsin - Madison, 964 Educational Sciences Building, 1025 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706-1796. Telephone: (800) 446-0399; Fax: (608) 262-9197.

Workplace Education Design Checklist: A Tool for Program Planning. Donna Manly, 1994. Cost: $10.00.

This practical tool guides the process of establishing a new or enhancing an existing workplace education program. It is divided into four sections: Program Design and Administration Indicators, Participant Achievement Indicators, Program Outcome Indicators, and Evaluation Tools.

Workplace Education Evaluation Checklist: A Tool for Assessing and Improving Performance. Donna Manly, 1994. Cost: $10.00.

Intended to aid in developing, evaluating, and enhancing workplace education, this checklist may be used to determine the nature of recommended program components, program effectiveness measures, and tools for use in the evaluation process. Effectiveness indicators are available for each item on the checklist. The author suggests that each member of the evaluation team -- including management, labor, and education -- completes the checklist, either independently or as a team. The results should be discussed as a team.

Workplace Education Skills Analysis. Training Guide. Donna Manly, 1991. Cost: $14.50.

Workplace Education Skills Analysis. Training Guide Supplement. Donna Manly, 1994. Cost: $19.50.

These companion documents provide detailed instructions on how to conduct a Workplace Education Skills Analysis (WESA). WESA, used by the Wisconsin Workplace Partnership Training Program, identifies and analyzes the basic educational skills that are required on the job. There are six stages of the WESA process: design meetings; interview preparation; interviews and observations; data analysis and draft reports; clarification meetings; and final reports. The information gathered through the WESA process enables workplace educators to develop job and workplace-specific curricula and to implement workplace-specific materials into instruction. The Training Guide Supplement provides samples and tips intended to improve the efficiency of the WESA process.


The following three new documents were funded by the National Institute for Literacy and published by Literacy Partnerships. These companion pieces discuss different aspects of a "team" or "collaborative" model for evaluating workplace basic skills programs. In this model, key stakeholders -- managers, union representatives, educators, and participating workers -- use evaluation as a tool for clarifying goals, monitoring progress, and making needed improvements. The documents can be obtained by writing to: Literacy Partnerships, 14 Griffin Street, East Brunswick, NJ 08816-4806. All orders must be pre-paid; make checks payable to Literacy Partnerships.

Workplace Education: Stakeholders' Expectations, Practitioners' Responses and the Role Evaluation Might Play. Paul Jurmo, 1994. Cost: $18.00.

This document which analyzes purposes for and approaches to workplace basic skills education, identifies a newly-emerging "collaborative" approach. It examines the current state of evaluation in workplace literacy programs and profiles promising developments in the creation of new, collaborative models of workplace education. Actions to strengthen the workplace education field are recommended.

Team Evaluation: A Guide for Workplace Education Programs. Laura Sperazi and Paul Jurmo, 1994. Cost: $18.00.

Key stakeholders are shown how to plan and carry out internal evaluations based on the collaborative model developed by Sperazi and Jurmo. The purpose of this guide is to help the team leader or team member understand the basic concepts and procedures of evaluation, make necessary decisions for team-based evaluation, and gain an appreciation for evaluation and collaborative decision making.

Team Evaluation: Case Studies from Seven Workplace Literacy Programs. Laura Sperazi and Paul Jurmo, 1994. Cost: $26.00 for the entire 378 page document; $9.00 for the 19 page summary, "Lessons Learned."

This report presents the results of field testing the Team Evaluation Approach. By studying the model in use at actual workplace education sites, the researchers compiled key findings for using the collaborative evaluation approach. They recommend that teams create time, interest, and expertise in a supportive context; develop a code of confidentiality and an ethic of continuous improvement; develop evaluation procedures consistent with the company's culture; use familiar and accessible resources; and be realistic in their goals.

Additional Program Evaluation Resource

The publication Workplace Education Evaluation Checklist: A Tool for Assessing and Improving Performance listed in the Designing Workplace Literacy Instruction section is also a resource for program evaluation.


Workplace literacy programs frequently have a need to incorporate English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction into their curriculum. The National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) has a number of helpful resources. The following resources can be obtained by writing to: NCLE, Attention Product Orders, Center for Applied Linguistics, 1118 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. You can also send an e-mail request for the publications to NCLE@CAL.ORG Cost: Free.

Workplace ESL Instruction: Varieties and Constraints. ERIC Digest. Mary McGroarty and Suzanne Scott, 1993.

This digest is a good place to start looking for information to gain an understanding of the issues. It discusses the meanings of workplace language instruction, the current perspectives on workplace learning, and the constraints on ESL in workplace programs. It focuses on needs assessment, assessment measures, participant attitudes and expectations, enrollment management, language choice, financial and organizational support, building coalitions, and decentralization.


NCLE has three short bibliographies related to the topic of workplace ESL instruction:

Each contains approximately eleven resources related to its topic.


Legal Considerations Concerning Literacy Testing in the Workplace. J. W. Philippi, 1993. Available from ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS), 7420 Cugino Road, Suite 110, Springfield, VA 22153-2852. Telephone: (800) 443-3742. ERIC document number: ED 358 255.

This practical, three-page report summarizes the legal concerns in regard to testing employees for literacy levels. The author emphasizes that the tests must be non-discriminatory, valid, reliable, and confidential. The report lists specific requirements for validity and guidelines for maintaining confidentiality.

The Connection between Employee Basic Skills & Productivity. Workforce and Workplace Literacy Series. Business Council for Effective Literacy, 1993. Available from ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS), 7420 Cugino Road, Suite 110, Springfield, VA 22153-2852. Telephone: (800) 443-3742. ERIC document number: ED 359 394.

Employers are always interested in specific proof of the connection between instruction and increased productivity. This document summarizes evidence from a number of different companies regarding the bottom-line value of workplace education. Nine documents that detail the specific effects of basic skills training on worker productivity are excerpted, and information on the availability and cost of each publication is included. This short report provides valuable information for the workplace educator who is trying to convince businesses of the need for workplace education.

Workplace Network News. Subscription available by sending a written request to: Attention: Editor, Workplace Network News, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC 20202-7240. Cost: Free.

The purpose of this quarterly newsletter is to keep businesses, labor organizations, and educators up-to-date with current information in the field of workplace education. Each issue features sections on new resources and upcoming conferences, as well as articles on innovative workplace literacy programs.

National Workforce Assistance Collaborative. For more information or to receive publications contact: Bernice Jones, National Alliance of Business, 1201 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005-3917. Telephone: (202) 289-2915; Fax: (202) 289-1303; TDD: (202) 289-2977. Publications are also available by Gopher (see Internet Resources).

The National Workforce Assistance Collaborative (NWAC) assists small and mid-sized businesses in adopting high-performance work practices to become more competitive by creating and retaining high-skill, high-wage jobs. The NWAC also helps service and information providers to meet the needs of these businesses in several areas including workplace literacy and employee training.

The following is a list of some of the NWAC publications which may be of interest to the workplace educator.

Workplace Literacy Publications: An Annotated Bibliography of Print Resources

Business Assistance Note #1: Meeting the Needs of Small and Mid-Sized Businesses: A Guide for Service Providers

Workforce Brief #4: Basic Workplace Skills: The Foundation for Productivity Improvement

Workplace Literacy Best Practice Guidelines

Workplace Literacy Briefing Paper

Training: The Case for Increased Investment


If you need further information about getting on-line to the Internet, e-mail, Listservs, or gophers, call the OLRC.

The National Workforce Assistance Collaborative (NWAC) maintains several Internet resources that may be useful for the workplace educator.

Gopher Server: The gopher server disseminates NWAC products and enables users to share instructional and staff training materials, research studies, bibliographies, program guides, reports, articles, and other information resources. All of the NWAC publications are available on the gopher including the annotated bibliography of print resources for Workplace Literacy.

The gopher can be accessed in two ways: 1) Connect to the OLRC gopher, select Adult Literacy Information Servers, then choose National Workforce Assistance Collaborative; or 2) Connect directly to the main gopher of the Pennsylvania State University. The address of the gopher is INFO.PSU.EDU which is the main Pennsylvania State University Gopher Server. From there, select Information Servers at Penn State, next choose Research Centers and Institutes,then National Workforce Assistance Collaborative.

NWAC-L Listserv: A Listserv is a way of having an on-line discussion through the use of e-mail. This Listserv is intended to be a forum for discussing issues, sharing information on topics related to work-place literacy, and reviewing NWAC products.

To subscribe to the NWAC-L Listserv, send an e-mail message to: LISTSERV@PSUVM.PSU.EDU Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put only the following: subscribe NWAC-L yourfirstname yourlastname. You will receive a reply message detailing how to confirm your subscription and providing you with further information about the Listserv.

WEC-L Listserv: This Listserv is managed by members of the Workplace Education Collaborative (WEC). WEC is a network of workplace educators in North America who have created models that stress active participation by all stakeholder groups in the design, implementation, and continuous improvement of work-place education programs. The Listserv is intended to provide members of WEC and others who share similar perspec-tives on workplace education with a place to discuss ideas and information.

To subscribe, send an e-mail message to: MAJORDOMO@NETCOM.COM In the body of the message, put only subscribe WEC-L yourfirstname yourlastname. You will receive a reply message confirming your subscription and providing you with further information about the Listserv.

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