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Work 1: Theoretical and Empirical Literature Review

Project Overview

Project Description

Topic: Take one of the theories or theoretical concepts introduced in this course. Look ahead into the course learning module to get a sense of upcoming ideas—don’t feel constrained to explore concepts introduced early in the course. Or explore a related theory or concept of your own choosing that is relevant to the course themes. 

Convey in your introduction how your topic aligns with the course themes and your experience and interests.  Outline the theory or define the concept referring to the theoretical and research literature and illustrate the significance of the theory using examples of this concept at work in pedagogical practice, supported by scholarly sources.

Work 1 must be in the genre of a literature review with at least 10 scholarly sources. For specific details, refer to the Literature Review Guidelines provided in the syllabus appendix

Word length: at least 2000 words

Media: Include images, diagrams, infographics, tables, embedded videos, (either uploaded into CGScholar, or embedded from other sites), web links, PDFs, datasets or other digital media. Be sure to caption media sources and connect them explicitly with the text, with an introduction before and discussion afterwards.

References: Include a References “element” or section with at least ten scholarly articles or books that you have used and referred to in the text, plus any other necessary or relevant references, including websites and media.

Rubric: Use the ‘Knowledge Process Rubric’ against which others will review your work, and against which you will do your self-review at the completion of your final draft.

Icon for Informal Learning: Education Outside of the Classroom in ASL

Informal Learning: Education Outside of the Classroom in ASL

Learning Then and Now, from

  If you took an education class today, you would be shocked at how much time has changed education over the years.  From what has originally been a traditional style method of learning with paper, pencil, chalkboard, and lectures has now evolved into tablets, computers, power points, and more.  Education was thought to previously only take place in the classroom, with the aid of a teacher, but is now thought to occur in multiple locations, from schools to home, and everywhere in between.  This concept, expanding education to include places outside of the walls of the classroom, is known as informal learning.  This shift in education has been fueled by the powerful technology push in everyday life.  

  With the expansion and use of technology , it is important to see how we can implement informal learning in other subject areas.  I am an American Sign Language teacher.  I have been teaching ASL for six years now.  I would be very interested to see how informal learning can benefit students that are learning American Sign Language as a second language, especially those in high school and college courses.  ASL is a language separate from English, with matching grammar and syntax, as well as the parameters that make the signs, a sign. I am constantly looking for any way I can to help students improve their signing skills inside and out of the classroom, with an emphasis on tools they can use at home.  I have started using things such as sign language videos for their practice instead of relying on books, as well as other assignments done outside of the classroom.  However, I would love to explore the benefits of doing required Deaf events and such activities to further help enhance fluency.


What is Informal Learning?

Informal Learning -

 What exactly is informal learning?  Informal learning is learning that occurs outside of the classroom.  There are several different types of informal learning.  As seen in the image above, there are on-demand, social, and embedded.  On-demand can be utilizing various resources such as online learning, or e-learning, books, videos, podcasts, or even something as simple as a Google search.  Social learning is using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Wikis, blogs,and social practice.  Embedded learning refers to games, feedback, and reviews.  These are all various forms of informal learning that one can use to aid students in mastering the content.  It is an easy, flexible way to open education to anyone beyond the classroom walls.

  According to Lin's Study on Informal Learning, "Affected by the trend of lifelong learning, informal learning is increasing attention."  (Lin 2014) They mentioned that informal learning is "an important way of modern adult learning."  (Lin 2014)  The reason for this is that almost all of adult learning nowadays is not traditional.  Most of it is online, while there are some courses that adults can take at a traditional college or university in a classroom.  However, it does not just simply stop at adult education.  Informal learning is transforming the educational world as we know it altogether.  


Benefits of Informal Learning

  When using informal learning situations that derive from activities such as volunteering, social struggles and political matters, they have shown that there is successful informal learning. This book argues that this is extremely important and beneficial towards students in these situations. (Foley 1999)  This allows for hands-on experience which goes above and beyond the book and the traditional classroom.  Informal learning has many benefits in of itself.  Besides the fact that it is learning in general, which of course benefits anyone, it can help people in various aspects.  One of these is language learning.  "The use of mobile phones and other portable devices is beginning to have an impact on how learning takes place in many disciplines and contexts, including language learning. Learners who are not dependent on access to fixed computers can engage in activities that relate more closely to their current surroundings, sometimes crossing the border between formal and informal learning. This creates the potential for significant change in teaching and learning practices." (Kukulska-Hulme 2009)  With this being said, students who have constant mobile access could learn better when not confined to the walls of the classroom.  Instead of students only learning while they're at school, they now would have all of the information in the world located at their fingertips.  




Informal Learning and ASL

  With the benefits of informal learning quite obvious, one must wonder how it could be applied to something such as language learning, or more specific, learning ASL as a second language.  With any language learning, it requires a lot of time, effort, and of course, practice.  Without the practice, it is impossible to become fluent.  In fact, "According to Watson, it takes about 480 hours of instruction for an average English speaker learning Spanish, French, Italian or German to reach level 2 speaking proficiency." (Kemp 1998)  We understand this for these foreign languages, but what about ASL?  Where does ASL lie?  How much time does ASL require of the learner for fluency? "... She believes an average English speaker must take 1320 hours of instruction to reach an ASL proficiency level of 2. Proficiency Level 2 indicates that a person is able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements."  (Kemp 1998)  What exactly does that level 2 proficiency entail?  According to the article, this essentially implies that level 2 fluency can have conversations that include family, work, and information about one's self.  It means it is very basic, and does not offer elaborate sentence structure.  It is considered to be a limited working proficiency.

  Now, if this article is to be true, then it would require, ".. about 8 years of ASL classes with ten contact hours per week at the elementary level, five contact hours per week at the intermediate level, and three hours per week at higher levels (Walton, 1992 as cited in Jacobs, 1996). However, there is no proof of the number of hours of instruction required for ASL learners to reach the proficiency level of 2 in the LPI. It is imperative that we take into consideration the length of time required for one to reach the target proficiency." (Kemp 1998)  Taking this into consideration, that means that for a high school level or college level, then there need to be at least three hours per week.  For some high schools, they have the classes every day, so it is closer to four hours per week, and others have block scheduling, so it varies.  However, what doesn't change is the fact that there needs to be constant instruction and practice, especially if it takes eight years to achieve that fluency level.  If teachers hope to be able to achieve that within a few years at the high school level, which is what I teach, then we need to be looking at alternative ways to further reinforce the practice and the content that is learned in the classroom.

  What better way to do this than to provide informal instruction, which happens outside of the classroom?  One specific way that the vast majority of ASL instructors across the nation urges for this to happen is by requiring Deaf events throughout the community.  Deaf events are events that occur in the community but have a large amount of Deaf people attending.  This provides a great way for students to be able to practice their skills with actual Deaf people other than their instructors, observe Deaf Culture at its best, and doing this without realizing that they're practicing.  Although there is a small number that cannot require these for their courses due to cost, time, and transportation concerns for high school students, the majority of instructors do require these.  In fact, at a local college in Jacksonville, Illinois, they are required to attend three events per semester.  

  Deaf events can include but are not limited to sporting events at the school for the Deaf, captioned movies at the theaters, Deaf bowling, Deaf Happy Hour, silent dinners, and more.  One of the most beneficial, but challenging, would be the silent dinner because students are not allowed to use their voices, even to order their food or drink.  This forces them to rely on their visual senses moreso than their auditory senses.  The interaction also allows for students to become used to interacting with, and seeing a variety of, signers.  Instead of relying on their instructor and their style, students are exposed to many different ones, which further impacts and enhances their fluencies.  There is a large deficiency in research when it comes to something such as this and the benefits it could provide to language learners.  I would like to see this research being studied within the next several years, as ASL research is still slowly emerging, although at a faster rate than previously.  This may be a topic of interest for my dissertation, to see just how well the informal learning benefits students with their language learning of ASL. With ASL only being recognized as a language in the 1960's, the research in this area is severely lacking. I am hoping that we can bridge that gap and bring ASL as up-to-date as the other foreign languages.


  With all of the constant changes in education, it is important for teachers to stay "on top of it" with the current trends and knowledge.  One of those current trends that has really blossomed in the past few years is informal learning, which is completely beneficial for students.  It completely eradicates the barriers of the four walls that is the classroom, allowing for learning to take place literally anywhere in the world. It has allowed people previously unable to continue their education to get their Masters and their Doctorates online, while also working full time as well as being parents. There are also ways that even students in their elementary schooling can participate in informal learning, by providing opportunities such as Deaf events for ASL students. There are infinite possibilities with informal learning, and I would absolutely love to see how we can take that and apply it to such fields as L2 language learning, or more specifically ASL learners to better help students with their levels of proficiency. 



Eraut, M. (2004) Informal learning in the workplace, Studies in Continuing Education, 26:2, 247-273, DOI: 10.1080/158037042000225245.

Foley, G. (1999). Learning in Social Action: A Contribution to Understanding Informal Education. Global Perspectives on Adult Education and Training. St. Martin's Press, Inc., 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

Gopalakrishnan, G. [Tedx Talks]. (2017, Feb. 7). ​Informal learning: the future. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Halliday-Wynes, S., & Beddie, F. (2009). Informal Learning. At a Glance. National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd. PO Box 8288, Stational Arcade, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

Holcomb, T. K. (2012). Introduction to American Deaf Culture. Oxford University Press.

Kemp, M. (1998). Why is learning american sign language a challenge? American Annals of the Deaf 143(3), 255-259. Gallaudet University Press. Retrieved September 8, 2019, from Project MUSE database.

Krashen, S. D. (1976). Formal and informal linguistic environments in language acquisition and language learning. Tesol Quarterly, 157-168.

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2009). Will mobile learning change language learning?. ReCALL, 21(2), 157-165.

Lin, Y. M., & Lee, P. C. (2014). Informal learning: theory and applied. International Journal of Business and Commerce, 3(5), 127-134.

Marsick, V. J., & Watkins, K. E. (2001). Informal and incidental learning. New directions for adult and continuing education, 2001(89), 25-34.

Smith, Mark K. (1999, 2008). ‘Informal learning’, The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education. [ Retrieved: 9/8/19]


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