Exploring perspectives on adult language, literacy and numeracy

By Daniella Mayer Occasional paper 9 December 2016

Description

Building the research capacity of the vocational education and training sector is of key interest to NCVER. The Foundation Skills Literature Review Project, a partnership between NCVER, the University of Technology Sydney and the Australian Council for Adult Literacy, provided scholarships to practitioners to develop their research skills through undertaking literature reviews focused on key topics relating to foundation skills. This review focuses on the perspectives of adult language, literacy and numeracy, particularly the human capital and social practices perspectives, which at times do not sit comfortably in relation to each other.

Summary

About the research

Building the research capacity of the vocational education and training (VET) sector is of key interest to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). The Foundation Skills Literature Review Project, funded by NCVER, provided scholarships to practitioners to develop their research skills. Skills were developed by undertaking literature reviews focused on key topics relating to foundation skills. Here, ‘foundation skills’ refers to adult language, literacy (including digital literacy) and numeracy skills, as well as employability skills, such as problem-solving, collaboration and self-management.

The four main topic areas were:

  • perspectives on adult language, literacy and numeracy
  • policy contexts and measures of impact
  • context and sites — pedagogy and the learners
  • workforce development.

The literature reviews will form a key information source for the Foundation Skills Pod, a new resource hosted on VOCEDplus . The Foundation Skills Literature Review Project is a partnership between NCVER, the University of Technology Sydney and the Australian Council for Adult Literacy.

In this review the focus is on the perspectives of adult language, literacy and numeracy. Language, literacy and numeracy are political. Different theoretical lenses and different perspectives lead to different understandings of what language, literacy and numeracy are and who is considered literate or numerate. Here Mayer has focused particularly on the human capital and social practices perspectives, which at times do not sit comfortably in relation to each other.

Human capital refers to the knowledge, skills and competencies people have that help facilitate their personal, social and economic wellbeing. In this context, language, literacy and numeracy are considered as discrete ‘skills’ that can be taught, with progress measured using instruments such as the Survey of Adult Skills, a component of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). A social practices perspective is reflected in the in situ studies of adults’ language, literacy and numeracy practices in the community and workplace, that is, investigations that look at how people actually use language, literacy and numeracy, with whom and why.

Dr Craig Fowler
Managing Director, NCVER

Download

Publication

Exploring perspectives on ALLN
.pdf
273.4 KB
Exploring perspectives on ALLN
.docx
776.6 KB

Related items

This literature review looks at policy contexts and their measures of impact, with a particular focu… Show more

This literature review focusses on the critical continuing development of the adult language, litera… Show more

This literature review looks at the different contexts in which adult language, literacy and numerac… Show more