Measures and References: Adverse Experiences

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Numerous measures exist to gain a full picture of a student's learning strengths and challenges. Following are examples of measures used to assess this Learner Factor. These measures should be administered and interpreted by experienced professionals.

Brief Trauma Questionnaire (Schnurr et al., 2002): Self-report questionnaire to assess exposure to various traumatic experiences such as accidents, combat, illness, abuse, and natural disasters.

Perceived Racial Discrimination (e.g., Chou et al., 2012): Self-report questionnaire to assess experiences with discriminatory acts such as being insulted or treated with less respect than other people.


Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Bremner, J. D., Walker, J. D., Whitfield, C. H., Perry, B. D., ... & Giles, W. H. (2006). The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 256(3), 174-186.

Babson, K. A., & Feldner, M. T. (2010). Temporal relations between sleep problems and both traumatic event exposure and PTSD: a critical review of the empirical literature. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24(1), 1-15.

Baranger, J., Rousseau, D., Mastrorilli, M. E., & Matesanz, J. (2018). Doing time wisely: The social and personal benefits of higher education in prison. The Prison Journal, 98(4), 490-513.

Bremner, J. D., Randall, P., Scott, T. M., Capelli, S., Delaney, R., McCarthy, G., & Charney, D. S. (1995). Deficits in short-term memory in adult survivors of childhood abuse. Psychiatry Research, 59(1-2), 97-107.

Briere, J., & Scott, C. (2015). Complex trauma in adolescents and adults: Effects and treatment. Psychiatric Clinics, 38(3), 515-527.

Buckmiller, T. (2010). Contradictions and conflicts: understanding the lived experiences of Native American adult learners in a predominantly white American university. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 12(3), 6-18.

Chaney, J. R., & Schwartz, J. (2020). Reintegrating formerly incarcerated citizens. Explorations in Adult Higher Education, 43-60.

Chou, T., Asnaani, A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2012). Perception of racial discrimination and psychopathology across three US ethnic minority groups. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18(1), 74-81.

Comings, J. P. (2008). Student persistence in adult literacy and numeracy programs. In S. Reder & J. Brynner (Eds.), Tracking adult literacy and numeracy skills: Findings from longitudinal research (pp. 180-196). New York, NY: Routledge.

Comas-Diaz, L., Hall, G. N., & Neville, H. A. (2019). Racial trauma: Theory, research, and healing: Introduction to the special issue. American Psychologist, 74(1), 1-5.

Coogan, P., Schon, K., Li, S., Cozier, Y, Bethea, T., & Rosenberg, L. (2020). Experiences of racism and subjective cognitive function in African American women. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, 12(1), e12067.

Dawson, D. L., & Golijani-Moghaddam, N. (2020). The COVID-19: Psychological flexibility, coping, mental health, and wellbeing in the UK during the pandemic. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 17, 126-134.

Drayton, B. E. (2012). Literacy and identity: Reflections of six African American males in an adult literacy program [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Pennsylvania State University.

Evans, G. W., & Kim, P. (2013). Childhood poverty, chronic stress, self‐regulation, and coping. Child Development Perspectives, 7(1), 43-48.

Ferrara, A. M., & Panlilio, C. C. (2020). The role of metacognition in explaining the relationship between early adversity and reading comprehension. Children and Youth Services Review, 112, 104884.

Finn, H. B. (2010). Overcoming barriers: Adult refugee trauma survivors in a learning community. TESOL Quarterly, 44(3), 586-596.

Horsman, J. (2006). Moving beyond "stupid": Taking account of the impact of violence on women's learning. International Journal of Educational Development, 26(2), 177-188.

Jernigan, M. M., & Daniel, J. H. (2011). Racial trauma in the lives of Black children and adolescents: Challenges and clinical implications. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 4(2), 123-141.

Lacoviello, B. M., & Charney, D. S. (2014). Psychosocial facets of resilience: Implications for preventing posttrauma psychopathology, treating trauma survivors, and enhancing community resilience. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 5(1), 23970.

Majer, M., Nater, U. M., Lin, J. M. S., Capuron, L., & Reeves, W. C. (2010). Association of childhood trauma with cognitive function in healthy adults: a pilot study. BMC Neurology, 10(1), 61.

McFarlane, A. C. (2010). The long‐term costs of traumatic stress: Intertwined physical and psychological consequences. World Psychiatry, 9(1), 3-10.

Nalavany, B. A., Logan, J. M., & Carawan, L. W. (2018). The relationship between emotional experience with dyslexia and work self‐efficacy among adults with dyslexia. Dyslexia, 24(1), 17-32.

Patterson, M. B. (2018). Critiquing adult participation in education, report 2: Motivation around adult education. Research Allies for Lifelong Learning.

Perry, B. D. (2006). Fear and learning: Trauma-related factors in the adult education process. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 110, 21-27.

Prins, E., & Van Horn, B. (2012). Adult learning in family literacy. In B.H. Wasik (Ed.), Handbook of family literacy (p. 166-180). New York, NY: Routledge.

Rogers, R. (2004). Storied selves: A critical discourse analysis of adult learners' literate lives. Reading Research Quarterly, 39(3), 272-305.

Samplin, E., Ikuta, T., Malhotra, A. K., Szeszko, P. R., & DeRosse, P. (2013). Sex differences in resilience to childhood maltreatment: Effects of trauma history on hippocampal volume, general cognition and subclinical psychosis in healthy adults. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(9), 1174-1179.

Schnurr, P.P., Spiro, A. III, Vielhauer, M.J., Findler, M.N., & Hamblen, J.L. (2002). Trauma in the lives of older men: Findings from the Normative Aging Study. Journal of Clinical Geropsychology, 8, 175-187.

Sippel, L. M., Pietrzak, R. H., Charney, D. S., Mayes, L. C., & Southwick, S. M. (2015). How does social support enhance resilience in the trauma-exposed individual?. Ecology and Society, 20(4), 10.

Torgerson, C. N., Love, H. A., & Vennum, A. (2018). The buffering effect of belonging on the negative association of childhood trauma with adult mental health and risky alcohol use. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 88, 44-50.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.) How common is PTSD in adults?

Van Ingen, E., & Matzat, U. (2018). Inequality in mobilizing online help after a negative life event: the role of education, digital skills, and capital-enhancing Internet use. Information, Communication & Society, 21(4), 481-498.