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Producing credible evidence and relevant evaluations: Integrating skills and practices in the study of adult literacy and numeracy policies and programmes

Carpentieri, JD; (2017) Producing credible evidence and relevant evaluations: Integrating skills and practices in the study of adult literacy and numeracy policies and programmes. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this integrative paper I identify my contribution to the production of credible and relevant evidence in the fields of adult education in general and adult literacy and numeracy in particular. By ‘credible evidence’ I refer to evidence that can be believed (Schwandt, 2009). By ‘relevant evidence’ I refer to evidence that is useful to policymakers and programme staff. In describing my work, I draw on and extend Berriet-Solliec et al.’s (2014) typology of three types of evidence that may be generated by research: • Type 1: Evidence of presence, e.g. of a problem such as low literacy skills in adults. Publications 1-3 in my submission focus on this type of evidence. • Type 2: Evidence of impact, e.g. the impacts of adult literacy programmes or policies on adults’ skills or other outcomes. Publications 4-5 focus on Type 2 evidence. • Type 3: Evidence of mechanisms, e.g. the causal processes through which adult literacy programmes may generate impact. Such mechanisms, in the form of literacy and numeracy practices, are discussed in Publication 6, as well as Publication 5. In this paper, I analyse the complex relationships amongst these three types of evidence. In doing so, I show how the proliferation of Type 1 evidence on literacy and numeracy skills, such as that produced by international surveys such as the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), leads to greater policy emphasis on the generation of credible and relevant Type 2 evidence, particularly in the form of evaluations of programmes’ impacts on those skills. I argue that while there has been increased emphasis on Types 1 and 2 evidence, a lack of policy focus on Type 3 evidence of key mechanisms (especially literacy and numeracy practices) through which adults may improve their literacy and numeracy skills leads to theoretically misinformed programme specifications and evaluations, with the latter producing Type 2 evidence that is at best insufficiently relevant and is at worst non-credible. I then offer a strategy for producing evidence that is more credible, and more useful to policymakers and programme staff.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Producing credible evidence and relevant evaluations: Integrating skills and practices in the study of adult literacy and numeracy policies and programmes
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: adult education, adult literacy, adult numeracy, evaluation, policy, workplace learning
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1559761
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