Have you read it?

A review of documents relating to adult literacy

The date for each refers to when it appeared in the ACAL newsletter.

May 2020

PIAAC and the South: Is Southering the new Othering? Global Expansion of dominant Discourses on Adult Literacy by Anke Grotlüsch and Klaus Buddeberg, 2020

Large-scale studies such as Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) are currently the most influential variant of literacy research. PIAAC is undergoing a process of regional expansion towards countries located in the geographical south.

Based on the finding that large-scale studies can create stereotypes about social groups, this contribution examines the extent to which this danger also exists with regard to countries and regions. For doing so we suggest the term ‘southering’. ‘Southering’ brings together the discourses about the South with the concept of othering, introduced by Said (1978).

The presentation of the results as tables and world maps can result in exposing countries of the South to a pronounced deficit perspective. The contribution does not pursue the goal of questioning the legitimacy of international studies. Rather, we would like to point out the necessity of exercising due care in the interpretation of corresponding study results. 

March 2020

Literacy-as-event: accounting for relationality in literacy research by Cathy Burnett and Guy Merchant

Research in New Literacy Studies has demonstrated how literacy consists of multiple socially and culturally situated practices illuminated through a focus on literacy events. Recently, this sociocultural perspective has been complemented by relational thinking that views literacy as an ongoing reassembling of the human and more-than-human.

This conceptual article proposes that, in exploring how relational thinking might be deployed in literacy research and practice, it is helpful to re-visit conceptualisations of literacy events. Specifically it proposes the notion of ‘literacy-as-event’ as a heuristic for thinking with the fluid and elusive nature of meaning-making, elaborating on three propositions: 1. event is generated as people and things come into relation; 2. what happens always exceeds what can be conceived and perceived; 3. implicit in the event are multiple potentialities.

Approaching literacy research through engaging with literacy-as-event promotes an expansive, reflective, and imaginative engagement with literacy practices that aligns with relational thinking.

February 2020

Supporting disadvantaged people through education and training: An International Specialised Skills Institute Fellowship by Karen Dymke and Cate Thompson (2019).

This report resulted from a fellowship awarded to the authors to research practice overseas ‘to identify effective strategies that assist disadvantaged and disengaged learners to move from unemployment and associated disadvantages into employment and positive life options’.

The key question guiding the investigation was how to ‘engage vulnerable people to commence a learning journey? Furthermore, having engaged them into programs, how do we ensure through quality teaching and learning that they continue the journey and build confidence and skills, to pathway on to employment and/or, better life opportunities?’

An additional question investigated was: ‘… to professionalise the practice of educators working in this field with the aim of recognising the specialist skills required in teaching vulnerable learners’.

December 2019

International handbook of health literacy research, practice and policy across the lifespan, edited by Orkan Okan, Ullrich Bauer, Diane Levin-Zamir, Paulo Pinheiro and Kristine Sørensen (2019).

This handbook is a collation of recent work focusing on health literacy research.  It is divided into three parts.

Part 1 is titled ‘Research into health literacy: An overview of recent developments’ and is itself subdivided into the following topics: (a) The many facets of health literacy: Scoping the current research of theories, concepts and models, (b) Measuring health literacy: What, why and how? And (c) Health literacy, health outcomes and health inequalities: Some empirical findings.

Part 2 deals with programs and interventions to promote health literacy and begins with an overview of these health literacy aspects. This is followed by more details about working with a range of groups, including adults.

In the final section, three chapters directed towards policy to promote health literacy are detailed. 

A PDF version of this publication can be found by typing in the title into your search window and then scanning down to the oapen.org entry.

September 2019

Adult literacy practitioners and employability skills: Resisting neo-liberalism? By Gwyneth Allatt & Lyn Tett (2019)

The authors of this report, present a ‘complex picture’ of the literacy skills needs and trends in Canada. They suggest there is no ‘quick fix’; rather, a range of diverse strategies must be implemented to address these issues. Recommendations include: investigating the ‘market’ for skills, ‘especially literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills’ and the embedding of ‘literacy in all workforce education and training initiatives for both youth and working-aged adults’.

June 2019

New Canadian Report: Literacy Lost: Canada’s Basic Skills Shortfall by Janet lane and T. Scott Murray, published by Canada West Foundation, December 2018.

The authors of this report, present a ‘complex picture’ of the literacy skills needs and trends in Canada. They suggest there is no ‘quick fix’; rather, a range of diverse strategies must be implemented to address these issues. Recommendations include: investigating the ‘market’ for skills, ‘especially literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills’ and the embedding of ‘literacy in all workforce education and training initiatives for both youth and working-aged adults’.

April 2019

This month Jo Medlin has reviewed one paper of interest to adult literacy and numeracy educators:

  • The effect of psychological factors on Syrian refugees’ participation in lifelong education by Mehmet Fatih Karacabey and Kivanc Bozkus, March 2019

Feb 2019

This month Jo Medlin has reviewed two documents:

  • Literacy and Numeracy Studies: An international journal in the education and training of adults

  • The very recent VET review

Dec 2018

This month Jo Medlin has reviewed two new papers:

  • The capable country: Cultivating capabilities in Australian education (Mitchell Report no. 03/2018, Lucas & Smith)

  • Mission Australia Youth Survey report 2018

  • In addition, there’s a look back at 2013 and the introduction of the Foundation Skills Training Package.

Sept 2018

A review of documents relating to adult literacy and numeracy

Jo Medlin has reviewed three papers of interest to adult literacy and numeracy educators and provided the links to access them:

  • Ai Group 2018 Survey report on Workforce Development needs Skilling: A national imperative (Sept 2018)

  • ALA: Re-imagining WELL in the 21st Century (June 2018)

  • ACTA: Problems in the Adult Migrant English and SEE Programs (May 2018