Research about adult literacy and numeracy

Ngā rangahau ako pānui, ako pāngarau mā te pakeke

Last updated 3 November 2016
Last updated 11/03/2016

This page provides information and links to useful research about adult literacy and numeracy from the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Tertiary Education Commission (the TEC).

 Ministry of Education Research

TEC-commissioned research about adult literacy and numeracy

We regularly commission research to support the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES). We use this research to add to the evidence base on boosting educational outcomes for priority learners in tertiary education.

We also commissioned a stocktake of research into adult literacy and numeracy skills since 2006. This can be used as a ‘checkpoint’ for New Zealand’s work in literacy and numeracy, including in policy development, research and practice.

Adult Literacy and Numeracy: An Overview of the Evidence (PDF, 411 Kb)

Research reports

Five research reports are summarised in this section. They cover research in: 

  1. how industry training organisations (ITOs) embed literacy and numeracy
  2. the use of Pathways Awarua
  3. tools to help tertiary education organisations (TEOs) better use evidence to set literacy and numeracy benchmarks
  4. the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool’s contribution to educational outcomes
  5. the alignment of adult literacy and numeracy measures.

Read the TEC's research summary for literacy and numeracy:

Boosting literacy and numeracy outcomes in tertiary education: 2015 research findings (PDF, 535 Kb) 

Evaluating the progress of embedded literacy and numeracy in ITOs

Generally, literacy and numeracy is more embedded into ITOs' processes and practices compared to five years ago but there is still some way to go.

Evaluating the progress of embedded literacy and numeracy in industry training organisations (Word, 430 Kb)

Evaluating the progress of embedded literacy and numeracy in industry training organisations (PDF, 440 Kb)

Assessing the use of Pathways Awarua in the tertiary sector

Pathways Awarua is an increasingly valued digital learning tool being used to complement face-to-face teaching programmes. Educators consider it is making a difference to literacy and numeracy proficiency and practice. 

Pathways Awarua - a digital learning tool to support adult literacy and numeracy (Word, 161 Kb)

Pathways Awarua - a digital learning tool to support adult literacy and numeracy (PDF, 682 Kb)

Enhancing the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Implementation Strategy through data-driven decision making 

The Benchmarking Framework and User Guide reports below are designed to help tertiary providers measure organisational performance in literacy and numeracy against benchmarks. These tools support making evidence-informed strategic and operational decisions to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes.

Enhancing the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Implementation Strategy through data-driven decision-making – Benchmarking Framework (PDF, 180 Kb)

Enhancing the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Implementation Strategy through data-driven decision-making – User Guide (PDF, 389 Kb) 

The Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool's contribution to educational outcomes in New Zealand

The Assessment Tool’s data is increasingly being used to inform teaching and organisational practices, and to improve educational outcomes for learners.  

Assessment Tool and contribution to educational outcomes (Word, 284 Kb)

Assessment Tool and contribution to educational outcomes (PDF, 357 Kb)

Alignment of Literacy and Numeracy Measures research report

We commissioned Maths Technology to investigate and update the alignment between key measures in literacy and numeracy used in secondary and tertiary education.

The research was commissioned to assist educators to understand how a learner's competencies assessed through one measurement process align to those in other measurement processes.

The literacy and numeracy skills of groups of students are then benchmarked against the updated alignments and the OECD 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, using the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool.

This research has been provided to the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority

Summary of report:

Aligning literacy and numeracy measures - Summary (PDF, 197 Kb)

Full report:

Alignment of literacy and numeracy measures (Word, 1 Mb)

Alignment of literacy and numeracy measures (PDF, 2 Mb)

You can also read more about the TEC’s work in literacy and numeracy on the Improving adult literacy and numeracy page.