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Literacy as supply and demand

Mallows, D; Litster, J; (2016) Literacy as supply and demand. Zeitschrift für Weiterbildungsforschung , 39 (2) pp. 171-182. 10.1007/s40955-016-0061-1. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper draws on three data sources – a national survey from Germany of adult literacy and numeracy skills (leo. – Level-One Study), the OECD's Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competences (PIAAC), and case studies of workplaces in England – to argue for a greater focus by policymakers and researchers on the literacy demand experienced by adults. We consider the heterogeneity of the population of adults deemed functionally illiterate by large-scale national and international surveys and question how such a large group of adults are indeed able to function in society. We draw on concepts of literacy practices and the literate environment to try to understand the demands on adults’ reading and writing and suggest that adults with poor literacy skills may be reluctant to engage in learning because they experience very low demand. Engagement in literate practices is an important mechanism through which literacy is improved and developed. If the demands on many adults’ literacy are so low, their skills may decline/fail to develop, leaving a large sub-class excluded from the literate environment and relying on others for interpretation and access to information. This vicious circle of underuse and consequent loss of skills should be a major concern for policy makers.

Type: Article
Title: Literacy as supply and demand
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s40955-016-0061-1
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1007/s40955-016-0061-1
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2016. Open Access: This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction for any purpose unless you / to the original author(s) and the source name correctly, add a link to the Creative Commons license and specify whether changes have been made. Copyright: Dieser Artikel wird unter der Creative Commons Namensnennung 4.0 International Lizenz (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.de) veröffentlicht, welche die uneingeschränkte Nutzung, Verbreitung und Wiedergabe für beliebige Zwecke erlaubt, sofern Sie den/die ursprünglichen Autor(en) und die Quelle ordnungsgemäß nennen, einen Link zur Creative Commons Lizenz beifügen und angeben, ob Änderungen vorgenommen wurden.
Keywords: Literacy; Adult education; Skills; Workplace; Practices
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1507911
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