New TEC Publication: Adult Literacy & Numeracy: An Overview of the Evidence

An overview of the evidenceThe Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) have released a new summary of the available evidence on adult literacy and numeracy. It’s kind of a meta-review – a summary of a lot of other literature reviews, but it’s quite brief and worth a look if you’re interested in this kind of thing.

They’re not going to print it, but you can access the PDF version here. If you’re thinking of printing, it runs to 46 pages.

There’s also a small version of our giant poster – Embedding LN: Baseline Knowledge on the very last page and back cover.

You may be able to blow it up and print on A3 if you have a copier that will do it. Otherwise, you’ll still need to contact us if you want a copy of the giant sized A1 version. Email if you do. Still working on pricing, but if someone orders one we’ll have to make a decision.

Here’s a low res version below if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Embdding LN Baseline Knowledge

Thanks TEC for including the poster and citing us in the list of references. Any thoughts and comments…? Let me know below.


Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

10 thoughts

  1. Sittingbull is disappointed that we haven’t found anything new in ten years. This is basically a re-print of very light research. If ever a document demonstrated a lack of research in an area this is it.

    1. Sitting bull: Thanks for the comments. The problem here is lack of money for research. I don’t think the TEC have contracted any new research since the work that Benseman did for them back in the early pre-LN infrastructure days.

      One thing that does come through the review of all the reviews for me is this: Practices come before proficiency. There is the implied suggestion that we’re not seeing the gains in proficiency because we’re not focusing first of all on measuring whether or not the good LN practices that learners (and tutors) need to have – are actually in place first.

      I don’t know whether to applaud this… or start getting concerned that the powers that be will impose another layer of assessment and compliance to see whether this is happening…

  2. On a more positive note I think your baseline knowledge poster answers the questions that arise in the document regarding what skills tutors/educators require to move learners forward.

    1. Yes… thanks for the endorsement…!

      As you know, these are a summary of the baseline knowledge and skills (i.e.good practices) that tutors should have in place. On their own they won’t result in proficiency gains immediately in learners, but we do know at least anecdotally that they do shift the tutors in terms of their professional practice, increase motivation in learners, and often cause at least short term LN skill gains in narrow areas if the tutors have been focused enough in their interventions.

      The unproven assumption is that learners will see LN gains over the longer term. However, we’d need actual research over much longer periods of time to see this.

      There’s also a disconnect between those able to do the research (e.g. in the university) and incentives for them to actually do it…

  3. I should clarify my top comment because I sound like the Grinch. My issue is not with the authors or the research used – my issue is that we don’t seem to be investing in research that digs down into the tougher (yet more informing) areas of L&N. I’m not sure we are any better informed as practitioners than we were in 2004.

    There are some great bits of research in this document that could provide a foundation for further fine grained research.

    For example, we keep saying that adult learners learn more when content is contextualised. When have we ever compared two programmes -one contextualised and one not?

    Do we have sufficient data to back up our most fundamental assumptions.

  4. Hmmm… I think the primary assumption for contextualised (i.e. embedded) programmes comes from the UK research. This was what I saw as the main driver for what has been rolled out here. However, no one seems to have ever noticed that the UK model for embedding LN is totally different to what we now do here. It relied on two tutors team teaching, rather than one tutor becoming the explicit deliverer of the LN as well as the trades content. I mean… I think we’re doing it… But you’re right. There’s no real proof… only anecdotal evidence that it’s working as opposed to empirical data.

  5. Yes, absolutely agree – we are right with the contextualised focus and I would never want to defend non-contextualised delivery. But… in any other education domain such a fundamental point that permeates the sector from policy to tutor practice would have decades of supporting evidence. As it stands I could point to maybe three actual pieces of research and none of these really makes the point very strongly.

    Not arguing for non-contextualised delivery – just pointing out the multitude of assumptions that are included in policy documents.

    I think I’ve lost my point… Coffee time.

    Would love some other readers comments.

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