New Research: Factors that Shape Adult Literacy and Education  
Posted by Laura McLoughlin on February 24, 2023 in categoryFacts & Research

The research articles included in Volume 5, Issue 1 of Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy both examine how circumstances of the world around us impact adult literacy learning.  

Articles like this are of particular importance to help facilitate understanding of what factors are molding not only adult learners, but the adult literacy field as a whole, and can be a useful tool to raise awareness and influence decision makers.  

In “Age, Period, and Cohort Effects on Adult Literacy Skills in the United States,” Takashi Yamashita of University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Thomas J. Smith of Northern Illinois University; and Phyllis A. Cummins of Miami University recognize that increasing basic literacy skills—a core component of human capital—will lead to improved economic and social outcomes. But what happens when literacy levels at the population level decline? The authors examine how three factors affect literacy on a large scale: 

  1. Age: refers to the variation in literacy skills due to aging, physiological changes, and shared social and educational experiences across life changes 
  2. Cohort: defined by the specific time period that someone was born 
  3. Period: represents that changes in social, cultural, economic, and physical environments and the impact those have had on individuals of any age  

In the second research article, “Community-Based Adult Learning: a Scottish Case Study in the Time of COVID-19,” author Lyn Tett of Universities of Edinburgh and Huddersfield writes about how community-based adult learning (CBAL) can help practitioners overcome the negative impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic had on instructors and learners. While the study took place in Scotland, Tett points out that Western countries experienced similar setbacks. 

Rather than a pre-set curriculum, CBAL builds instruction around people’s lived experiences and aims to improve the quality of life for those who are disadvantaged. Tett embarked on a three-year case study to investigate changes that were occurring related to CBAL: reduced funding and resources for CBAL, the impact of COVID-19, and the importance of CBAL in promoting well-being. She shares her findings in the journal. 

The editors of the research journal pay close attention to current issues, and they choose topics and present ideas that can inform and improve instruction in the adult literacy field. You can download Adult Literacy Education to find these articles as well as the Forum, Report from the Field, reviews, and more.



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