Researching Literacy and Numeracy Costs and Benefits: What is possible

Robyn Hartley, Jackie Horne


Abstract

Assessing the social and economic benefits of investing in adult literacy and numeracy and the costs of poor adult literacy and numeracy, is largely uncharted territory in Australia. Some interest was evident in the late 1980s leading up to International Literacy Year, 1990 (for example, Miltenyi 1989, Singh 1989, Hartley 1989); however, there has been little work done in the area since then, with the exception of recent studies concerned with financial literacy costs and benefits (Commonwealth Bank Foundation 2005). Assessing the benefits (returns) of workplace training in general has received some attention (for example Moy and McDonald 2000), although the role of literacy and numeracy is often implied rather than explored in any detail.
In contrast, there is a considerable body of relevant research emanating from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and some European countries. The release of data from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) in the 1990s contributed to some of this research, as did policy developments for example, in the United Kingdom. The much greater use of IALS data in some other countries compared with Australia, seems to be related to a combination of factors in the overall policy and research environment for adult literacy and numeracy in each country.

Full Text

PDF

References

Ananiadou, K, Jenkins, A and Wolf, A (2003) The Benefits to Employers of Raising Workforce Basic Skills Levels: A review of the literature, National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, London.

Atkin, C and Marchant, P (2004) The Impact of Adult Literacy and Numeracy on Small Businesses in Rural Lincolnshire and Rutland: A case study, National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, London.

Beddie, F (2004) Community Literacy: A discussion paper, retrieved from www.dest.gov.au/literacynet/

Berkman, N, DeWalt, D, Pignone, M, Sheridan, S, Lohr, K N, Lux, L, Sutton, S F, Swinson, T and Bonito, A J (2004) Literacy and Health Outcomes, Evidence report/technology assessment No. 87, Prepared by RTI International–University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-02-0016), AHRQ Publication No. 04-E007-2, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD January.

Brooks, G, Gorman, T, Harman, J, Hutchison, D, Kinder, K, Moor, H and Wilkin, A (1997) Family Literacy Lasts: The National Foundation for Educational Research follow-up study of the Basic Skills Agency demonstration programs, Basic Skills Agency, London.

Buchbinder, R, Hall, S, Grant, G, Mylvaganam, A and Patrick, M (2001) Readability of Content and Supplementary Written Drug Information for Patients Used by Australian Rheumatologists, Medical Journal of Australia, vol 174, no 11, pp 557-8.

Bynner, J, McIntosh, S, Vignoles, A, Dearden, L, Reed, H and van Reenen, J (2001) Improving Adult Basic Skills: Benefits to the individual and society, Department for Education and Skills, London.

Chiswick, B R, Lee, Y L and Miller, P W (2003) Schooling, Literacy, Numeracy and Labour Market Success, The Economic Record, vol 79, no 245, pp 165-181. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1475-4932.t01-1-00096

Commonwealth of Australia (2004) Australian Consumers and Money: A discussion paper by the Consumer and Financial Literacy Taskforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Commonwealth Bank Foundation (2005) Improving Financial Literacy in Australia: Benefits for the individual and the nation, Commonwealth Bank Foundation, Eureka Strategic Research and Centre of Policy Studies, Monash University, Melbourne.

Coulombe, S, Tremblay, J-F and Marchand, S (2004) Literacy Scores, Human Capital and Growth across Fourteen OECD Countries, Statistics Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Catalogue no 89-552-MIE.

Desjardins, R (2004) Learning for Well-being: Studies using the International Adult Literacy Survey, Studies in Comparative and International Education 65, Institute of International Education, Stockholm University, Stockholm.

Feinstein, L (2002) Quantitative Estimates of the Social Benefits of Learning, 1: Crime, Research Report No. 5, Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning, London.

Garman, T (1998) The Business Case for Financial Education: Personal financial wellness and employee productivity, Personal Finances and Worker Productivity, vol 2, no 1, pp 81-93.

Gillis, D and Quigley, A (2004) Taking Off the Blindfold: Seeing how literacy affects health, A report of the Health Literacy in Rural Nova Scotia Research Project, St Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Gleeson, J (2005) Economic Returns to Education and Training for Adults with Low Numeracy Skills, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide.

Griffin, J, McKenna, K and Tooth, L (2003) Written Health Education Material: Making them more effective, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, vol 50, no 3, pp 170-177. http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1630.2003.00381.x

Hagston, J (2002) Exploring the International Adult Literacy Survey data: Implications for Australian research and policy, Language Australia Publications, Melbourne

Hartley, R (1989) The Social Costs of Inadequate Literacy, A report for International Literacy Year, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Hartley, R and Horne, J (2006) Social and Economic Benefits of Improved Adult Literacy: Towards a better understanding, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide.

Hull, K, Forrester, S, Brown, J, Jobe, D and McMullen, C (2000) Analysis of Recidivism Rates for Participants of the Academic/Correctional/Transition Programs offered by the Virginia Department of Correctional Education, Journal of Correctional Education, vol 51, no 2, cited in ProLiteracy America 2003.

Jacob, K, Hudson, S and Bush, M (2000) Tools for Survival: An analysis of finanacial literacy programs for lower-income families, Woodstock Institute, 407 S. Dearborn, Chicago, Ill.

Long, P (1990) Workforce Perceptions of Literacy and Multi-skilling Issues, Open Letter, Australian Journal for Adult Literacy and Research, vol 1, no 1, pp 18-29.

Lonsdale, M and McCurry, D (2004) Literacy in the New Millennium, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide.

Marks, G and Fleming, N (1998) Factors Influencing Youth Unemployment in Australia, Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, vol 7, September, pp 1-47.

Miltenyi, G (1989) English in the Workplace: A shrewd investment?, Summary, prepared by Eyles Miltenyi Davids Pty Ltd, for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra.

Moy, J and McDonald, R (2000) Analysing Enterprise Returns on Training, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide

Nutbeam, D (1999) Literacies Across the Life Span: Health literacy, Literacy and Numeracy Studies: An international journal in the education and training of adults, vol 9, no 2, pp 47-55.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Statistics Canada (2000) Literacy in the Information Age: Final report of the International Adult Literacy Survey, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, and the Minister of Industry, Canada.

Pearson, G (1996) More Than Money Can Buy: The impact of ESL and literacy training in the Australian workplace, Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Canberra.

ProLiteracy America (2003) US Adult Literacy Programs: Making a difference, a review of research on positive outcomes achieved by literacy programs and the people they serve, ProLiteracy Worldwide, Syracuse, NY.

Roberts, P and Fawcett, G (1998) At Risk: A socio-economic analysis of health and literacy among seniors, International Adult Literacy Survey, Statistics Canada, Human Resources Development Canada and National Literacy Secretariat, Catalogue no 89-552-MPE, no 5.

Rootman, I and Ronson, B (2003) Literacy and Health Research in Canada: Where have we been and where should we go?, National Literacy and Health Research Project, retrieved from www.nlhp.ca.

Roy Morgan Research (2003) ANZ Survey of Adult Financial Literacy in Australia -Final report, retrieved on 20 February 2007 from www.anz.com.au/aus/aboutanz/Community/Programs/FinSurvey2005.asp#adult.

Schagen, S (1997) The Evaluation of NatWest Face 2 Face with Finance, National Foundation For Education Research, London.

Schuller, T Bynner, J Green, A Blackwell, L Hammond, C Preston, J and Gough, M (2001) Modelling and Measuring the Wider Benefits of Learning: A synthesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

Schuller, T, Preston, J, Hammond, C, Brassett-Grundy, A and Bynner, J (2004) The benefits of Learning: The impact of education on health, family life and social capital, Routledge Falmer, London.

Shohet, L (2004) Health and Literacy: Perspectives, Literacy and Numeracy Studies: An international journal in the education and training of adults, vol 13, no1, pp 65-83.

Singh, S (1989) The hidden costs of illiteracy, Business Review Weekly, June, p. 72-74.

Wickert, R (2004) Everyone's Responsibility: Towards meeting the adult language, literacy and numeracy needs of a modern Australia. Retrieved from www.dest.gov.au/literacynet/

Williams, M, Parker, R, Baker D, Parikh, N, Pitkin, K, Coates, W and Nurss, J (1995) Inadequate Functional Health Literacy Among Patients at Two Public Hospitals, Journal of the American Medical Association, vol 274, pp 1677-1682.

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM