Functional Literacy

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Subject: [PD 6139] Instructional design
From: tibekilem
Date: Thu Dec 1 07:42:17 EST 2011

Hello Jackie. I'm also excited abt being part of literacy professionals. I am a Swazi in Africa engaged in basic literacy provition for adults youth and out of school children. We are using functional literacy for adults and not sure if same approach would be appropriate for the out of school chilfren. Also would there be a theory that underpins that?


Subject: [PD 6155] Re: Instructional design
From:Tom Sticht
Date: Fri Dec 2 12:37:25 EST 2011

Colleagues: Tibekilem asked for information regarding functional literacy and its theory. Following is some information which provides theoretical underpinnings for functional literacy approaches for adult learners. The reports also provide illustrations of program design. The first five reports are authored by myself. Following the five reports is an outline of my workshop on Functional Context Education and Workplace Literacy which lists the topics I cover in four parts. After that is a listing of the resources/reports I draw upon in the workshop. All the reports are available for downloading online. Hope this is of use Tibekilem.

Tom Sticht

1. The Theory Behind Content-Based Instruction. This article discusses the theory underlying functional context education and appears in Focus on Basics located online at:

2. Reading for Working: A Functional Literacy Anthology. The research and development reported in RfW set the stage for what became known as "workplace literacy." For the first time, adult literacy work included an extensive body of empirical research to find out just how literate adults had to be to perform well in various occupations. The work took place within the context of the U. S. Army of the Vietnam era of the 1960s and continued into the newly implemented Volunteer Army of the 1970s and beyond. It expanded from studies to determine how literate personnel had to be to work as automobile mechanics, cooks, supply clerks, medical corpsmen, etc., to the design of more readable and usable books and manuals, and the design, development, and implementation of workplace literacy programs at Army recruit training centers across the United States. The book also presents early data on the intergenerational transfer of literacy from parents to their children, data in support of policies basis for family literacy programs.

3. Functional Context Education: Making Learning Relevant (1997 edition). Eight chapters including The Power of Adult Literacy Education, Some Challenges of Diversity for Adult Literacy Education, Views On Contemporary Cognitive Science, Introduction to Functional Context Education, Functional Context Education and Literacy Instruction, and four case studies in applying Functional Context Education to the design of programs that integrate (or embed, contextualize) basic skills and vocational or parenting education (workplace literacy, family literacy).

4. Functional Context Education: Making Learning Relevant in the 21st Century (2005 edition). Functional Context Education (FCE) materials available online in several nations, the Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) survey, National Adult Assessment of Literacy (NAAL) survey, FCE in historical perspective, (1860-Present) including Paulo Freire and Learner Centered, Participatory Literacy Education. Methodologies used in adult literacy research for determining what is relevant to youth and adult learners; five case studies illustrating the application of FCE in parenting, vocational training, and health literacy.

5. Functional context education: A scientific, evidence-based approach for adult literacy education. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: National Adult Literacy Database. Available:

Workshop title: Functional Context Education and Workplace Literacy

Presenter: Tom Sticht, International Consultant in Adult Education (tsticht at

Workshop Schedule & Resources

Part 1. 09:00-10:30am Contemporary issues calling renewed attention to Functional Context Education and Workplace Literacy

Overview of theories, methods, and professional wisdom in the history of FCE and workplace literacy.

10:30-10:45 Break

Part 2. 10:45-12:00 Scientific research on FCE and workplace literacy leading to the National Workplace Literacy Program (NWLP) in the United States
. 12:00-12:30pm Lunch

Part 3. 12:30-02:00pm Workplace literacy and workforce development research and programs following the NWLP

02:00-02:15pm Break

Part 4. 02:15-03:30pm Contemporary projects on contextualizing and integrating program design and engaging employers and employees.

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 1 (Use Google to locate these reports titles online)

Working Together: Integrated Language, Literacy and Numeracy Support in Vocational Education and Training

Literacy and Human Resources Development at Work: Investing in the Education of Adults to Improve the Educability of Children

Bridges to Careers for Low-Skilled Adults: A Program Development Guide

The Career Pathways How-To Guide

Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills: What Works? And Why?

Breaking Through: Contextualization Toolkit

Integrating Adult Basic Education and Occupational Training: A Review of Research and Practice

Literacy-Friendly Further Education and Training: An Exploration of the potential for a whole organization approach to integrating language and literacy to further education and training in Ireland

Strengthening Literacy and Numeracy Through Embedding: Guidelines for Private Training Establishments

Work, Society and Lifelong Literacy: Report of the inquiry into adult literacy in England

ABE Career Connections: A Manual for Integrating Adult Basic Education Into Career Pathways

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 2

Partnering with Employers: To Promote Job Advancement for Low-Skill Individuals

Reading for Working: A Functional Literacy Anthology

Cast-off Youth: Policy and Training Methods From the Military Experience

Workplace Literacy: Reshaping the American Workforce

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 3

Workplace Literacy Programs: Resources for Program Design, Assessment, Testing & Evaluation

REFLECT: Transferring literacy skills in the workplace (eMagazine from

Passports to Paradise: The Struggle to Teach and to Learn on the Margins of Adult Education “You wouldn’t expect a maths teacher to teach plastering”: Embedding literacy, language and numeracy in post-16 vocational programmes-the impact on learning and achievement Learning Faster-Learning Smarter: The Functional Context Education Approach to Economic Self-Sufficiency Improving Immigrants’ Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language Instruction

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 4 Contextualized Teaching & Learning: A Faculty Primer Educating Adult Workers: The Shifting Gears Initiative: An Overview Measures of Success: Workplace Literacy & Essential Skills Workbase New Zealand Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Communication Support (web page) Reaching customers-supporting staff –workplace literacy and essential skills Making Cent$ of Literacy: The Bottom Line Impact Making it Work: A Practical Guide for Effective Delivery of Skills for Life in Workplace Learning

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