Volume 41 (2018)


List of contents 2018

Canadian Adult Education Research is in the centre of this year’s volume of the International Yearbook of Adult Education. The multilayered character of the field becomes evident in content-related diversity as well as in different perspectives related to the micro-, meso- and macro-level.

On macro-level, Canada’s role regarding the conception and realization of PIAAC as well as the different phases of (de-)institutionalizing adult literacy in the Canadian society are discussed. On meso- and micro-level, the authors are concerned with Canadian adult education from a feminist perspective and with indigenous perspectives on lifelong learning.


Ralf St. Clair

All dressed up and nowhere to go: PIAAC in Canada

The international adult literacy survey series has been conducted for over 25 years, culminating most recently in the PIAAC results released in 2013. Canada was deeply involved in the development of the series, and for PIAAC funded a sample size around seven times the average. Yet the analysis of the results has been limited, and impact on the field yet more so. This chapter discusses one explanation for the failure of the survey to have a wider impact, and identifies implications for adult education policy more broadly.

Maren Elfert, Jude Walker

Level 3, Bureaucrats, and Stigmatisation: Why “Mainstreaming” Literacy Failed in Canada

The article examines why the promise of “mainstreaming” (adult) literacy in Canada was never realized, although there was a period of time, from the late 1980s until the early/mid-2000s, when interest in literacy was strong among the public, in the media, and with policy-makers. Based on recent and previous research, including interviews with key stakeholders, we argue that mainstreaming literacy has failed and explore the reasons for this failure. The chapter is structured in three sections. In the first, we recount the history of literacy in Canada over three phases: i) the period from the 1970s up until the launch of the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) in 1994; ii) the story of IALS and changes occurring up until around 2005, and, iii) the period from around 2006, which marked a clear policy shift in the approach to literacy. The second section examines the reasons for the failure of the mainstreaming of literacy in Canada. We conclude by reflecting on the present situation of adult literacy, which has been largely reduced to employability skills which are under-supported.

Shauna Butterwick

Out of the Shadows: Women’s Adult Education Leadership in Canada

In Unearthing Canada’s Hidden Past: A Short History of Adult Education Michael Welton (2013 p. x) argues that “Canada has one of the most illustrious, experimental and innovative traditions of adult education in the world” and further notes that Canadians remain relatively unaware of this history.” (p. xv). Women’s contributions remain even more invisible compared with what can be called the ‘single story’ of Canadian adult education in which particular men figure prominently. Women have, throughout the history of Canadian adult education, been involved with creating new organizations and institutions, providing formal and formal spaces for adult learning, and taking the lead within social movements fighting for social justice, particularly for women’s rights. This article aims to highlight some of their efforts. The first part focuses on women’s work within social movements. The second part of the chapter focuses on women’s leadership in the creation of feminist organizations and spaces within formal institutions, particularly their role in the creation of equality seeking organizations, organizations that were (and are) key sites of adult education, particularly the development of women’s critical consciousness about their rights and ways of organizing and demanding social justice.

Francine Emmonds

Indigenous Approaches to Adult Basic Education Research: Lessons from the Elders

Adult basic education (ABE) programs provide secondary school courses that enable adult learners to complete high school, often as a next step to higher education and improved employment opportunities. In Canada, several ABE programs across the country offer culturally relevant curricula that emphasize the teaching and learning of Indigenous ways of knowing, including the values of language, family, Elders, and community. Elders are the cornerstones of education within Indigenous communities and schools: they are the knowledge keepers who connect the past to the future, carrying traditional teachings from the previous generations so that the cycle of knowledge sharing is sustained. The voices of Indigenous Elders and ABE students are seldom heard in academic literature. In a recent case study of an urban Indigenous college in western Canada, ABE students spoke about returning to school as adult learners, and noted how Elder support has enriched their experiences. Elders’ traditional teachings informed the overall approach to this work in adult education research, by emphasizing how protocols are embedded within language and culture, and illustrating how Cree language terms provide structure and substance to a conceptual framework. In sharing their wisdom, the Elders gave foundation to the study and support to the researcher. More research is needed to examine the roles and contributions of Elders in adult and higher education, both within Canada and internationally.

Dörthe Herbrechter, Eva Hahnrath, Xenia Kuhn

Professionelle Lerngemeinschaften als Konzept zur berufsbegleitenden Professionalitätsentwicklung der Lehrenden in der Erwachsenen- und Weiterbildung? Ein narratives Review

Current studies on the staff of adult and continuing education show a wide range of different professional backgrounds of the teachers. For collegial cooperation, the professional design of teaching-learning situations and, last but not least, for the pedagogical professionalism of teachers, this professional heterogeneity implies specific challenges that relate to the need of continuous professional learning. A form of professional development that has received much attention in the context of (school-based) education research is the so-called professional learning community (PLC), which, on the basis of cooperation and reflexive dialogue on everyday requirements, contributes teachers‘ development and thus the quality of education offers. On the basis of a narrative review, the article explores the the PLC-concepts‘ pontential for the field of adult education and discusses adaptation needs and starting points for further research.

Dennis Klinkhammer, Michael Schemmann

User-generated Student Course Evaluations: (How) Can Key Competencies become Systematic Evaluation Parameters?

Student course evaluations are well known to most students, but their expertise is rarely taken into consideration when it comes to designing them. Since student course evaluations are supposed to provide insights into the quality of heterogeneous courses, which has to be considered challenging from a statistical point of view, students theorized the quality of common student course evaluations within an advanced seminar in educational research. They reflected on different designs, statistical issues as well as imprecise questions and questionnaires before focusing on key competencies as new type of evaluation parameters. Key competencies shall provide a focus on teaching effectiveness and can operate without the need for comparing average scores of heterogeneous courses. By addressing the professional, the methodological, the social as well as the self-competence of each student, the different levels of key competencies within each course can separately be dealt with. Furthermore, a student course evaluation focusing key competencies provides a perfect data basis to be thoroughly tested by factor and reliability analysis in order to highlight the quality of the students’ approach and their understanding of evaluation research.