Summer Institute 2013: Presentations

Listed here are the presentations that were given during Summer Institute 2013, organized by topic.





PIAAC's Place in an International Skills Strategy


The OECD International Adult Assessment Agenda – PIAAC and the broader skills strategy, presented by William Thorn, Education Directorate, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

In this presentation Mr. Thorn placed PIAAC in the context of the OECD Skills Strategy, which is a framework to help governments develop coherent policies for the development, activation, retention and effective use of skills or competencies in labour markets. He described how the OECD has attempted to broaden and improve its measures of "human capital" and looked at the new measures included in the PIAAC survey.



Methodological Issues in International Assessment


Cut-Offs and Levels on PIAAC – What do they mean for understanding results?, presented by William Thorn, Education Directorate, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

William Thorn provided an overview of the proficiency levels used to
report results from PIAAC, highlighting the similarities and differences between
PIAAC and previous adult literacy surveys. Mr. Thorn noted that there will be no PIAAC statement about a Level 3 threshold for an individual “to function in a modern society and economy” since the evidence does not support it.


Inside the Assessment Machine: The life and times of a UNESCO LAMP test item, presented by Bryan Maddox, University of East Anglia

Anthropologist Bryan Maddox, a consultant to the UNESCO Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP), explored the inner workings of ”assessment machines” through a case-study of one LAMP test item, specifically an ethnographic observation of  nomadic herders in the Mongolian Gobi answering a test item about camels.


National Assessments


IVQ adult literacy and numeracy assessment: another step towards an index-based French adult assessment tool, presented by Jean-Pierre Jeantheau, Agence Nationale de Lutte Contre l’Illettrisme (ANLCI)

Video is in French

Jean-Pierre Jeantheau described the French approach to assessing literacy in national surveys: one which uses a different methodology from that in international surveys such as PIAAC, and focuses more on people with serious basic skills problems. The skills measured in France include oral comprehension, writing, reading and understanding written texts, and numeracy.



Assessing the Impacts of Programs


Busy Intersections: Programs as strategic interventions in learning pathways. Presented by Steve Reder, Portland State University, Oregon, and Donald Lurette, Adult Education Consultant.

Steve Reder, an American researcher, and Donald Lurette, a Franco-Ontarian practitioner, reflect on and compare their experiences over two decades in adult education and assessment that led both of them independently to the idea that programs should be seen as "busy intersections" in learners' lives rather than as "parking lots”. They presented their conclusions and implications for program design and assessment that would follow such a shift.


Contrasting and Connecting: International Literacy Surveys and Demonstration Projects, presented by David Gyarmati and Boris Palameta, Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC).

Researchers David Gyarmati and Boris Palameta explored and contrasted the important roles that international surveys such as PIAAC and research and demonstration projects can play in informing policy development.  Drawing on results from two recent groundbreaking demonstration projects, Measures of Success and UPSKILL,  they showed how findings from demonstration projects can complement the work of international surveys such as PIAAC.



Linguistic Minorities


Large-Scale Assessment and Minority Population: What the research tells us, presented by Jean-Pierre Jeantheau, Agence Nationale de Lutte Contre l’Illettrisme (ANLCI)
Video is in French

Jean-Pierre Jeantheau compared the experience of linguistic minorities with international literacy surveys in different countries, and considered the issue of why so many Francophone Canadians outside Quebec chose to take previous literacy assessments in English.


Literacy and Essential Skills for the Workplace


Essential skills training in colleges:  A case study, presented by Michel Simard, Collège Lionel-Groulx
Video is in French

Director of Continuing Education and Services to Business Michel Simard described the role that the college network has to play in the area of raising levels of basic skills, and increasing the ability of workers to perform diverse tasks, adapt to rapid change and engage in further skill development.  Mr. Simard described how local businesses in St-Jerome Quebec who hire the graduates from his college have fed his thinking and shaped his decisions.


The missing link: adult basic skills in the workplace and large-scale international surveys. Paul Bélanger, Université du Québec à Montréal

Video is in French

A look at the need for measures that are better targeted and adapted to the needs of workplaces and adult educators yet still based on some key concepts from recent large-scale international assessments. Why have such tools not been developed until now? How can we seed change? Professor Bélanger examined these questions in light of his experience as Director of The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (HAMBURG) and his recent research on workplaces and learning.


What do employers want to know about employee skills? Can international assessments help build employer engagement in skills training?, presented by Philip Mondor, Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council.

Employers want motivated workers with the skills, knowledge, and competencies to achieve business goals.  Literacy is increasingly becoming a concern in the service sector as workplaces become more complex and labour supply scarcer.  Although employers invest in training, results are disparate.  Often the level or type offered is inadequate or not aligned with adult learner needs.  Many small and medium businesses do not have the required resources or skills.  A clear business case is needed to engage employers, and the programs offered must be fit for purpose, with an employer-centric approach. To be persuasive, the business case needs evidence of the return on investment and information and supports to direct the investments.  International assessments can be integral to the case. 



Health and Social Outcomes


Health and Social Dimensions:  The potential of PIAAC to inform other areas of policy, presented by Linda Jacobsen, Senior Policy Analyst, Intersectoral Partnerships and Initiatives Section, Public Health Agency of Canada

Linda Jacobsen looked at how changing social and health contexts are placing skill demands on individuals and the institutions that serve them, recounted how previous international surveys raised the profile of health literacy in Canada, and anticipated what PIAAC will tell policy-makers and stakeholders about the relationships between skills and health and social outcomes.


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