Storying Progress: Non-Academic Outcomes Research

The non-academic outcomes research project is about exploring different outcomes for adult learners. It looks at how going back to school has helped learners become more confident and better able to cope with life demands.

This exciting project is now coming to an end. In this project we have interviewed 52 adults learners in three different adult education programs in Fort Providence, Inuvik and Hay River. We asked them to tell us the story of their learning journey, and of the things they thought they achieved. Many of the learners overcame huge barriers to go back to school. Although it was extremely challenging for many of them, they were all successful in different ways.

Here is part of one learner's story.

"I came back to school because I wanted to get a good job, so I needed to get my education. During the summer I was working somewhere I didn't really want to be. I think nursing is where I want to be. I'll do practicums in the hospital here. I didn't really enjoy school before – I like ALBE way better. Here the teachers are different. They treat you like an adult, not like a child. I like that better.

Most of my challenges are keeping up with my home, cleaning and stuff. Sometimes my dishes sit for days. I get most of my support from my boyfriend and my family but I also get a lot of support from teachers.

I noticed that now I can present myself better. I can speak better. Before I started school, I'd read my nephews and nieces books and I'd be a slow reader, but now I can read fine. I like it better. I have more confidence – I wouldn't be doing this kind of thing [this interview] before. I also think I'm more positive. I've always been positive, but it's improved a little, I guess.

I noticed that now I can present myself better. I can speak better. Before I started school, I'd read my nephews and nieces books and I'd be a slow reader, but now I can read fine. I like it better. I have more confidence – I wouldn't be doing this kind of thing [this interview] before. I also think I'm more positive. I've always been positive, but it's improved a little, I guess.

If someone asked me about going back to school, I would tell them to do it. I'd say, "Don't think about it too much, just do it, because it will help you with your life." It will help them get on track and get a better job.

I'm glad I came back to school. It helped me so much with my writing and my math and everything. It makes me feel good, really good. When I'm talking, I notice that I use words that I would have never used before coming back to school. I use bigger words. Going back to school made me a better person. I can do so many more things now than before coming back, so I'm glad I came back."

The NWT Literacy Council will complete this project by December and will use the results to develop a workshop for adult educators on non-academic outcomes.