The salience of diversity in foundation skills contexts, pedagogies and research

By Lynda Cameron 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 looks at the different contexts in which adult language, literacy and numeracy are being delivered, who the learners are and the pedagogies in use, to elucidate what works best for whom and why. It highlights the need to learn more about the impact of non-formal learning environments on the development of foundation skills as ways of expanding our knowledge of good teaching and learning practices.

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 through 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 and the University of Technology Sydney and the Australian Council for Adult Literacy.

This review focuses on ‘contexts and sites — pedagogy and the learners’. In reviewing both national and international research, as well as grey literature, the author has delved into the different contexts in which adult language, literacy and numeracy are being delivered, who the learners are and the pedagogies in use, to elucidate what works best for whom and why.

Through this review Cameron highlights the complexity of teaching foundation skills: the diversity of learners and their learning needs; the varied contexts or places in which teaching or training takes place; and the ongoing technological changes, all of which impact on what works and for whom and why.

She draws attention to the benefits of longitudinal research and the need for further research into the impact of non-formal learning environments on the development of foundation skills as ways of expanding our knowledge of good teaching and learning practices.

Dr Craig Fowler
Managing Director, NCVER

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