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IMPADA
Criteria for Measuring the
Effectiveness of Adult
Education for Disadvantaged
Groups: Research Document
Output type...
2
Project acronym: IMPADA
Project name: Improving the effectiveness of adult education for
disadvantaged groups
Project co...
Contents
Acronyms & abbreviations ...........................................................................................
4
3.4.3. Teachers "quality" .................................................................................................
5
Acronyms & abbreviations
IMPADA consortium
DACES Derbyshire Adult Community Education Service
IBE Educational Research I...
6
1. Introduction
This report forms part of Outcome 1 of the IMPADA project: to ascertain “criteria for measuring adult
ed...
7
2. Analytical Framework
This section presents methodological approach and key definitions adopted in the research.
2.1. ...
8
The secondary data used in the report has been gathered from current publications, studies and surveys in the
field of a...
9
skills (life-skills) programmes. The IMPADA project focuses solely on non-vocational programmes, but notes
that lessons ...
10
2.1.2. Effectiveness of adult education
The broad term “effectiveness of education” can be viewed from at least two dif...
11
o Are those from disadvantaged groups recruited onto programmes that are appropriate to them
and their needs?
o Is the ...
12
being at a disadvantage compared with the general populous (and therefore be ‘grouped’ by having a
particular character...
13
2.3.1. The identification of disadvantaged groups
As will be further explained in section 2.3.2, "in many countries, pa...
14
This is unsurprising, given that over three-quarters (76%) of all learners started their learning for work or career
re...
15
Fig. 2. Types/cohorts/characteristics that could be considered disadvantaged groups within adult education
3
Source: IM...
16
For example, many learners who enter adult community education do so with low literacy and numeracy, and
with the inten...
17
Fig. 3. Exemplar cycle of disadvantage
Source: IMPADA partners
2.3.3. What do we know about adults with low skills
One ...
18
literacy and numeracy skills as well as using the skills in family or social context (e.g. helping children
with homewo...
19
Table 1. Identification of vulnerable groups on PIAAC data
Country Group Group as
percentage of
total
population
Percen...
20
2.3.4. Existing models to increase effectiveness of community based
adult education (including education for disadvanta...
21
North West Wellbeing Portfolio
The portfolio focuses on factors (‘hidden depths’) which help create a successful commun...
22
3. Main findings about quality factors
Even though some solutions are more effective than others, there is much evidenc...
23
Learners
Stakeholders
Partners
Strategy
development,
planning,
marketing
ParticipationProvision
Fig. 4. Institutional q...
24
business) customers: based on
priorities on
state/regional/community level,
statistical data, focus groups with
stakeho...
25
 providing on-programme support
for all learners (targeted guidance
services, tutor management,
etc.).
Initial assessm...
26
3.1. External vs. internal quality factors
As it was mentioned above, factors having positive or negative impact on eff...
27
various sources – e.g. public statistics, target group representatives interviews or surveys, literature
review, etc.
3...
28
Desjardins & Rubenson (2013) conclude that there are two key aspects of barriers to adult education:
individual and str...
29
Communities are also good places to provide education programmes. Places such as community centres or
workplaces are mo...
30
for a clearer understanding of their specific professional situation. Furthermore, in case of people that wish to
learn...
31
The next aspect identified by Windisch (2015) is partnerships of employers and trade unions. They are
considered as an ...
32
motivation to participate in adult education. Though this factor seems to be crucial, there are hardly any
European cou...
33
Taking it into account, adult education providers must ensure that – when those external circumstances change
– a learn...
34
- Knowing their names;
- Communication the learners’ language (at least learning few words);
- Understanding the learne...
35
- Solid assessment of homework;
- Giving the comments and advice on the homework, both verbal and written.
The last two...
36
experiences. Regular feedback focused on made progress and implemented in the form of coaching may be of
help here (see...
37
by (Benseman et al., 2005) is – similarly to the case of writing – creating curricula linked to life. Provision is
much...
38
On the other hand, formative assessment is also based on learner’s performance, but it has more ongoing
character and a...
39
- Formative assessment cannot be used instead of summative assessment. The latter still exists as an
essential strategy...
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This report forms part of Outcome 1 of the IMPADA project: to ascertain “criteria for measuring adult
education effectiveness on disadvantaged groups”.
The main goal of this research was therefore to explore and recognise what may form the key criteria for
measuring the effectiveness of adult education. These criteria will then be developed into a framework that
can be used by adult education providers to assess their current provision and further embed good practice, to
facilitate increased effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups.
The research focused around two key questions:
1. What does “effectiveness of education” look like?
2. How can this be measured?
Answers to these questions will enable practitioners to better understand the challenges faced by
disadvantaged groups, ensure that interventions are put in place to improve its effectiveness, and ensure that
these are measured.

Published in: Education
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IMPADA_O1_Criteria_Research_Document_2016_07_15

  1. 1. IMPADA Criteria for Measuring the Effectiveness of Adult Education for Disadvantaged Groups: Research Document Output type: O1 IBE May 2016
  2. 2. 2 Project acronym: IMPADA Project name: Improving the effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups Project code: 2015-1-UK01-KA204-013666 Document Information Document ID name: IMPADA_O1_Criteria_Research_Document_2016_07_15 Document title: Criteria for Measuring the Effectiveness of Adult Education for Disadvantaged Groups: Research Document Output Type: Intellectual Output Date of Delivery: 15/07/2016 Activity type: Activity leader: IBE Dissemination level: Public Document History Versions Date Changes Type of change Delivered by 1.0 14/03/2016 Initial document, IBE 2.0 15/07/2016 Revised version following DACES Feedback Revisions across document IBE Disclaimer The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. The project resources contained herein are publicly available under the Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.
  3. 3. Contents Acronyms & abbreviations ..................................................................................................................................5 1. Introduction.......................................................................................................................................................6 2. Analytical Framework ...................................................................................................................................7 2.1. Research Methodology........................................................................................................................................7 2.2.1. Focus groups...............................................................................................................................................7 2.2.2. Desk-based research...............................................................................................................................7 2.2.3. Partner documentation ...........................................................................................................................8 2.2. Key Definitions.......................................................................................................................................................8 2.1.1. Adult education..........................................................................................................................................8 2.1.2. Effectiveness of adult education .......................................................................................................10 2.1.3. Disadvantaged groups ..........................................................................................................................11 2.3. Inclusion and inclusive practice in adult education................................................................................12 2.3.1. The identification of disadvantaged groups..................................................................................13 2.3.2. The challenge in adequately defining and identifying disadvantage...................................15 2.3.3. What do we know about adults with low skills ............................................................................17 2.3.4. Existing models to increase effectiveness of community based adult education (including education for disadvantaged groups) ........................................................................20 3. Main findings about quality factors......................................................................................................22 3.1. External vs. internal quality factors.............................................................................................................26 3.2. Strategy development, planning and marketing ....................................................................................26 3.3. Participation ..........................................................................................................................................................27 3.3.1. Recognition of participation barriers ...............................................................................................27 3.3.2. Recruitment (including promotion)..................................................................................................28 3.3.3. Retention....................................................................................................................................................31 3.4. Provision.................................................................................................................................................................33 3.4.1. Teaching, learning and assessment strategies............................................................................33 3.4.2. Length of a course..................................................................................................................................41
  4. 4. 4 3.4.3. Teachers "quality" ..................................................................................................................................42 4. Outcomes of (adult) education ..............................................................................................................44 4.1. Educational gain in relation to earnings, labour market status and benefits dependency.....45 4.2. Personal and social returns.............................................................................................................................47 4.3. Methods and measures used in the assessment of educational outcomes ..................................49 5. Conclusions on criteria on measuring adult education effectiveness.................................54 6. Bibliography.....................................................................................................................................................58 Appendices................................................................................................................................................................64 I) UK WEA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2014-16)...................................................................................65 II) Learning Link Scotland (2016)....................................................................................................................................66 III) Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers in Education and Training – England Education and Training Foundation (2014) .....................................................................................................................................................67 IV) Criteria for measuring: “Soft/Human Skills” outcomes (produced by the document’s authors)..............................69
  5. 5. 5 Acronyms & abbreviations IMPADA consortium DACES Derbyshire Adult Community Education Service IBE Educational Research Institute UPTER People’s University of Rome ENAEA Estonian Non-formal Adult Education Association PROMEA Hellenic Association for the promotion of Research & Development Methodologies Other abbreviations BMBF German Ministry of Education and Research CIF Common Inspection Framework CSE Child sexual exploitation E+D Equality and diversity GED General Education Development (certificate, US) ISCED PIAAC indicator for level of education LLL Lifelong Learning NIACE National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (organisation, England and Wales) NRS American National Reporting System for Adult Education OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (multinational) PIAAC Programme of International Assessment of Adult Competencies RARPA Recognising and Recording Participation and Achievement (process, UK) SMART Specific, measurable, agreed and achievable, realistic, timebound and trackable TLA Teaching, learning and assessment UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization WEA Workers’ Educational Association (organisation, UK) WVABE West Virginia Adult Basic Education Program (US)
  6. 6. 6 1. Introduction This report forms part of Outcome 1 of the IMPADA project: to ascertain “criteria for measuring adult education effectiveness on disadvantaged groups”. The main goal of this research was therefore to explore and recognise what may form the key criteria for measuring the effectiveness of adult education. These criteria will then be developed into a framework that can be used by adult education providers to assess their current provision and further embed good practice, to facilitate increased effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups. The research focused around two key questions: 1. What does “effectiveness of education” look like? 2. How can this be measured? Answers to these questions will enable practitioners to better understand the challenges faced by disadvantaged groups, ensure that interventions are put in place to improve its effectiveness, and ensure that these are measured. This report presents a review of findings from both primary and secondary research regarding the effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups. - Primary research: Focus groups carried out by partners in the IMPADA project with key practitioners and learned stakeholders in the field of adult education. Five focus groups were carried out in five countries. - Secondary research: Desk based research of key relevant studies, reports, journals and publications, plus documentation from provider partners, used to examine and explore the observations made in the focus groups and to fill any gaps in focus group observations of what the key themes and questions that practitioners might need to consider.
  7. 7. 7 2. Analytical Framework This section presents methodological approach and key definitions adopted in the research. 2.1. Research Methodology There were three sources of information used in this report, these are outlined below. 2.2.1. Focus groups Firstly, each partner organisation conducted a focus group (of duration 1.5-2.5 hours) in their base country. The participants of each focus group were carefully selected to ensure that they included learned professionals and practitioners all experts at a variety of levels within educational and research roles, including decision makers and highly experienced front line practitioners. All focus groups were conducted according to an agreed semi-structured scenario, which was necessary to gather coherent and comparable data among all project partners. The synthesized data analysis of all focus groups followed the content analysis approach and involved coding participants’ open-ended answers to main questions into closed categories. This allowed the emerging issues that were most pertinent and salient to be identified, and to enable the data to be organised into various typologies through comparing and contrasting data from each organisation. It was known that the sample would provide the rich and highly valid qualitative data that would be needed to gain the deep understanding necessary to tackle this difficult subject area. This primary research was considered as solid introduction to the desk based research and pointed the direction of the latter. The most significant discoveries from the focus groups will be therefore presented next to the corresponding results of the desk research. 2.2.2. Desk-based research In order to extrapolate and ensure reliable data, the primary research was then supported by an extensive desk-based secondary research exercise. This enabled the primary research to be examined and extended with quantitative data that would corroborate or refute the focus group observations, and to provide a political and economic understanding as a backdrop. The secondary research was intended to interrogate questions raised from the primary research, and to fill any gaps that were present in the findings from the small focus group sample size.
  8. 8. 8 The secondary data used in the report has been gathered from current publications, studies and surveys in the field of adult community education, and wider in relevant fields of education with a focus on effectiveness of education and disadvantaged groups. This is supplemented by some studies, research and articles from a broad-based general research exercise of journal articles in such publications as Adult Education Quarterly, and Studies in the Education of Adults and using relevant keyword search terms, such as “effectiveness of adult education” and “disadvantaged adult education”, plus reports form notable renowned institutions such as OECD, UNESCO and National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. References can be found in the final section of this report. 2.2.3. Partner documentation Thirdly, UPTER, DACES and ENAEA, the project partners who are adult education providers, shared documentation that they use relevant to the effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups, as well as their own assessment reports, to provide insight into current practice within these organisations and their national contexts. This report also comprises the findings of this exercise. 2.2. Key Definitions The final versions of definitions of the key words used in the IMPADA project were established on the basis of the results from desk research phase and will be presented in the next sections. 2.1.1. Adult education The term “adult education” is sometimes understood as any type of education that occurs after the theoretical age of completion formal education. In the IMPADA project we use this term in a narrower sense and follow the definition of Erasmus+ guidelines, which stipulates that adult education is “all forms of non-vocational adult education, whether of a formal, non-formal or informal nature” (European Commission, 2016). This includes intentional and non-intentional learning, learning over a short or long period and that organised by people for themselves such as community groups or online communities, as well as on formal education. The IMPADA project focuses on non-formal education1 . Non-formal education for adults, assumed to be those over the age of 18, could be seen to include: literacy/numeracy training, foreign-language training, ICT training, as well as vocational programmes and soft- 1 As opposed to formal education, guided by a formal curriculum, referring to the structured education system that runs from primary school to university and focused rather on providing learners with information/knowledge than with competences and capacities useful in everyday life.
  9. 9. 9 skills (life-skills) programmes. The IMPADA project focuses solely on non-vocational programmes, but notes that lessons can be learned from all forms of formal and non-formal education. Therefore publications from different forms of education are not considered to be out of scope for research purposes. In the context of non-formal adult education systems, it is noted that the delivery of “non-vocational”, as opposed to vocational learning, can be defined in three distinct terms: 1. Those courses that do not lead to a qualification, such as: courses for health and wellbeing, creative arts and crafts courses, non-qualification community languages courses, personal development courses, Family Learning courses. 2. Those courses that are not tailored to a particular profession (e.g. art for pleasure), as opposed to those with a particular profession being taught (e.g. plumbing, electrician) and therefore could be assumed to have an immediate and direct impact on the labour market. 3. Courses that are primarily in a learning environment away from the workplace, as opposed to learning that takes place mainly in the workplace (e.g. apprenticeships). In the case of each distinction, there is some “blurring of the lines”. For example, an “English for Adults” programme may or may not have the attainment of a qualification as an objective, but the effectiveness of the education for disadvantaged groups is still applicable. Additionally, one can argue that any type of education could have an impact on a learners’ ability to enter and progress in the labour market. For the purposes of this research, it was therefore assumed that none of these three distinctions fall outside of scope as all may provide useful and relevant insight into understanding the issues and formulating the criteria. Because of the fact that the IMPADA project focuses on the non-vocational adult education for disadvantaged groups, this report usually (but not explicitly) refers to key competences (mainly basic skills) courses, basing on the assumption that education can be a solution for those whose (social, educational, labour market) exclusion results in and at the same time deepens through falling behind in using at least one type of important skills (independently of the primary reasons for exclusion). Among such courses the most popular are those aimed at providing literacy and numeracy education, followed by soft skills, ICT and motor skills education. Those are also primary themes in the literature on adult education (see e.g. Vorhaus, Litster, Frearson, & Johnson, 2011; Windisch, 2015). Furthermore, regardless of the necessity to narrow the scope of project interest, IMPADA partners are aware of the challenges in adequately defining and identifying disadvantage presented in section 2.3.
  10. 10. 10 2.1.2. Effectiveness of adult education The broad term “effectiveness of education” can be viewed from at least two different angles which are: - quality – as a feature characterising – positively or negatively (depending on its impact on outcomes) – all elements of educational process provided by educational institutions (including training programmes, teachers, etc.) – measured with the use of indicators specific for certain elements (e.g. quality of teaching indicators). - outcomes – understood as achieved objectives of educational process – both expected and unexpected, short- and long-term, influencing individuals or whole communities/societies – measured with the use of objective or subjective measures (indicators). Everyone who would like to understand the phrase "effectiveness of education" literally (narrowly), should focus only on "outcomes" and so do e.g. all the analysts who decide to define it in strictly economic terms. Indeed, the impact of education on earnings and employability is well proven, and appears to be one of the most important characteristics of education. But one must conclude that economic outcomes are not solely results of education, especially in the case of adult education for disadvantaged groups. Among other (and often prior) results of such education, one can mention better citizenship, self-confidence, and stronger relationships etc., which are features often difficult to define in terms of observable indicators. Therefore, in order to be able to measure impact of education in cases of educational programmes aimed at achieving goals that are hard to measure, in addition to identification and operationalization of variables relating directly to the "outcomes" – understood as all outcomes of education that improve learner’s quality of life (direct indicators), IMPADA partners decided to define key factors influencing "quality" (indirect indicators), so that the prepared common assessment framework to evaluate adult education effectiveness on disadvantaged includes both "quality-related" and "outcome-oriented" components. Given the above, the “effectiveness of adult education” for disadvantaged groups can be defined in the way that combines these two approaches and its evaluation framework can include two main parts, such as: - Planning participation and provision ("quality") – in which accepted indicators should not only be focused on factors that are usually related to quality of education, but should be tailored to the specific of education for adults from disadvantaged groups and allow for comparing certain group(s) of learners with various control groups, which will provide answers to questions such as: o Does the provision effectively recruit learners from identified disadvantaged groups? o Are the recruitment numbers proportionate to the local/national society (those who fall into the defined “disadvantaged groups” and those who do not) or positively discriminated so that programmes have a greater proportion of disadvantaged groups (those who could be seen to benefit the most from adult community education provision)?
  11. 11. 11 o Are those from disadvantaged groups recruited onto programmes that are appropriate to them and their needs? o Is the retention rate for those from defined disadvantaged groups any different from those who do not fall into these groups? o Do the teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) strategies used impact on the retention rates for disadvantaged groups? The approach of evaluating the effectiveness of education on the basis of its quality will be further discussed in section 3. - Success and achievement ("outcomes") – in which accepted indicators should not only be concentrated on measures of individual success (e.g. improving in/acquisition of new skills), but should allow for comparing certain group(s) of learners with various control groups, which will provide answers to questions such as: o Is the course success rate (defined by meeting course objectives) as high for those in identified disadvantaged groups compared with those who do not fall into these groups? o Do learners from disadvantaged groups progress onto further, higher or more advanced learning at the same rate and in the same volumes as those who do not fall into these groups? o Do learners from identified disadvantaged groups enjoy significantly more life chances as a result of adult education? Have they moved from adult education into the workplace at the same comparative rate? Do they have an improved participation in wider society as a result of their learning experiences? The approach of evaluating the effectiveness of education on the basis of its outcomes will be further discussed in section 4. 2.1.3. Disadvantaged groups “Disadvantaged groups” could be an extremely wide-ranging umbrella term for a large number of characteristics. Broadly, disadvantage can be defined as any characteristic that can be seen as a “barrier to learning” and as such negatively impact participation or achievement in society, economically or in education: in short, “life chances” (Weber 2016). For the purposes of this report and for the IMPADA project, “disadvantaged groups” are not defined only as singular identifiable and homogenous ‘groups’ of people (such as a group of learners in the same class who come from a particular ‘disadvantaged’ geographic area), but could be any individuals who can be perceived as
  12. 12. 12 being at a disadvantage compared with the general populous (and therefore be ‘grouped’ by having a particular characteristic in common, such as being deaf/hard of hearing, or having dyslexia). The challenge in defining and identifying disadvantage is discussed in subsection 2.3, especially in parts 2.3.1 and 2.3.2. 2.3. Inclusion and inclusive practice in adult education Inclusion and inclusive practice are approaches to teaching, learning and assessment that strive to encourage the maximum participation of all adults, to achieve and reach their full potential. It also implies the commitment to avoid the opposite: exclusion, under-achievement leading to lack of success and limiting life chances. The Tomlinson report on Inclusive Learning (Tomlinson, 1997), endorsed a learner centred approach to teaching and learning, that positions learners’ individual needs as the starting point for developing a responsive, personalised learning experience. The report investigated widening participation specifically for learners with learning difficulties or disabilities and recommended that the responsibility is on the education provider to empathise with and respond to the individual, and to address the needs of individual learners. The definition of inclusion used in the report is based on obtaining the greatest degree of match or fit between individual learning requirements and provision Further to this, The Kennedy report, Learning Works (Kennedy, 1997), emphasised the importance of making learning accessible to all learners and focused on people who may be disadvantaged because of their social, economic or educational background. Kennedy (1997) highlighted some of the barriers to learning that can prevent or discourage adults from engaging in adult learning – for example: lack of awareness of learning opportunities, lack of confidence, childcare support, to name but a few. Fig. 1. Achieving equality of opportunity through inclusive learning and widening participation Source: (Reisenberger & Dadzie, 2002) Equality of Opportunity Your organisation Inclusive learning Your Learners Widening Participation Your Community and Partnerships
  13. 13. 13 2.3.1. The identification of disadvantaged groups As will be further explained in section 2.3.2, "in many countries, patterns of social exclusion often continue to influence the patterns of exclusion in education while exclusion in education often feeds into social exclusion" (Unesco, 2012). International human rights treaties prohibit any exclusion to educational opportunities on the bases of perceived differences, which relates to differences in: “sex,” “race,” “ethnic origin,” “language,” “religion,” “political or other opinion,” “national origin,” “birth,” “descent,” “economic condition, “property,” “social origin,” “disability,” and “the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs ...” (Unesco, 2012). It means that every country needs to ensure that educational opportunities are not limited for anyone due to the differences listed above. On the other hand great differences in participation in adult (voluntary) education between countries suggests that some of them deal with the problem of inequity in education (including adult education) better than others. In general, adult education participation rates are positively correlated with a country’s level of economic development as measured by per capita GDP. However, there are variations between countries at the same development stage which suggest that participation is not solely a function of income level, but also a consequence of other factors, perhaps particularly the impact of public policy (Unesco, 2009). According to Eurostat, percentage participation in education and training of the population aged 25-64 is the highest in United Kingdom among IMPADA countries (17,4% compared to 13,7% in Estonia; 8,3% in Italy; 4,3% in Poland and 2,8% in Greece)2 . In this section we present some statistics and policies relating to inequity in UK education and identification of disadvantaged groups. The groups least represented in education and training provision in the United Kingdom are those who are also the most socially and economically disadvantaged, to include: the long-term unemployed; low-wage manual and service workers; people with poor literacy, numeracy skills with no or low qualifications; members of black and ethnic minorities; older adults; homeless people; single parents; caregivers of sick or elderly relatives; care leavers and adults living in rural communities (McGivney, 2000) . Encouraging these disadvantaged groups to engage in adult learning is a challenging and complex process that involves a range of related constituents, such as targeted development work in the community, inclusive curriculum development, additional learner support, and differentiated teaching and learning strategies. Similarly, the NIACE Adult Participation in Learning Survey (2015) provides a unique overview of the level of participation in learning by adults in the UK, with a detailed breakdown of who participates and who does not. Just over a fifth of adults (22%) are currently learning, with around two in five adults (41%) having taken part in some form of learning in the previous three years. A third of adults (33%) have not participated in learning since leaving full-time education, a slight decrease from 35% in 2014. Engagement in learning is not evenly distributed across society. In 2015, as in all previous years, the survey clearly shows that participation in learning is determined by social class, employment status, age and prior learning. There are significant differences between the participation rates of workers, unemployed adults and those outside of the workforce. 2 Data for the year 2014 (source: Eurostat: online data code: trng_lfs_01).
  14. 14. 14 This is unsurprising, given that over three-quarters (76%) of all learners started their learning for work or career related reasons. The proportion of unemployed adults who are taking part in learning has decreased since 2014, falling from 41% to the previous level of 35% found in 2013. Furthermore, the proportion of unemployed adults who have not taken part in learning since leaving full-time education has increased from 32% to 41%. In line with previous surveys, the 2015 survey confirms that there is a considerable difference in the participation of those who left school at the earliest opportunity and those who continued in full-time education. Over half (52%) of those who left full-time education aged 21+ are learning, compared with just over a quarter (26%) of those who left school at or before the age of 16. Almost half (47%) of adults with internet access have taken part in learning in the previous three years compared with just 12% of those without access. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (62%) of adults without regular access to the internet have not taken part in learning since leaving full-time education. This suggests that the digital divide continues to have a significant impact on participation in learning. Current UK legislation, the Equality Act 2010 (which incorporates and builds upon the Human Rights Act 1998), codifies discrimination around 9 identified protected characteristics, age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation. Consequentially, these 9 identified protected characteristics are an integral part of UK baseline measures and as such are inherently embedded in all UK practice, not only in education, but also in business and employment law et al. For education providers, this legislation is operationalized into guidance such as Equality and Human Rights Commission (2016). Furthermore, the UK Ofsted Common Inspection Framework (Ofsted, 2015a) stipulates that inspectors pay particular attention to the outcomes for a range of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including the protected characteristics, plus wider criteria (ibidem, pp. 6-7). Inspectors also specifically examine that providers “actively promote equality and diversity, tackle bullying and discrimination and narrow any gaps in achievement between different groups of children and learners” (Ofsted, 2015a, p. 13) Based upon such identification of disadvantaged groups and their expert knowledge and experience, the IMPADA partners and practitioners in the focus groups developed the following collection of what ‘disadvantaged groups’ could be identified in adult education.
  15. 15. 15 Fig. 2. Types/cohorts/characteristics that could be considered disadvantaged groups within adult education 3 Source: IMPADA partners 2.3.2. The challenge in adequately defining and identifying disadvantage There is much research into the field of disadvantage, and it is often assumed and reduced to simply assuming that all the disadvantaged are also low-skilled. However, a learner could be well-skilled but a wheelchair user, and be considered at disadvantage; an individual may be a female to male transgender learner who is well qualified but also be considered to be disadvantaged. Where the link between disadvantage and low skills levels are made, practitioners must also be careful not to assume that this correlation is automatically a relationship of causation. Although low skills levels, particularly in the case of literacy and numeracy, can be seen as a societal disadvantage, practitioners must also consider what underlying disadvantage/s have contributed to this. 3 This is an illustrative diagram, not considered exhaustive. Presented types/cohorts/characteristics should not be perceived as disjoint sets.
  16. 16. 16 For example, many learners who enter adult community education do so with low literacy and numeracy, and with the intention of upskilling in this area. Being low skilled can be seen as a societal disadvantage (and one that learners enter adult education to reduce) but also as a result of other disadvantage experienced in earlier life. It can be seen, then, that disadvantage can be self-perpetuating and indeed snowball into greater disadvantage over the course of a person’s life. Skills levels can be seen both as a cause and as a result of disadvantage. Further to such cycles, practitioners within the IMPADA project noted that many learners are subject to multiple disadvantage from a variety of individual and socioeconomic factors. A learner may be a BME male who has had a geographically disrupted childhood and therefore disrupted early schooling, and have had an undiagnosed learning difficulty and not received the support required to enable learn literacy and numeracy skills to be learned effectively. This is corroborated by multiple studies, such as the PISA study (OECD 2016), which evidences that “poor performance at age 15 is not the result of any single risk factor, but rather a combination and accumulation of various barriers and disadvantages that affect students throughout their lives… Thus, within any single county or region, tackling low performance requires a multi-pronged approach.” (OECD 2016, p192) In order to break people from such cycles of disadvantage, and at any stage of a person’s life, adult education should provide opportunity to upskill learners4 . Given the above and taking into account the fact that the IMPADA project focuses on the field of education (not e.g. social or health policy), by the term “disadvantaged groups” we understand the adults, who lack some important skills (including basic skills such as literacy and numeracy and/or soft skills, ICT as well as motor skills) in a way that negatively impacts their functioning in society. Such broad group is usually link with some "physical", "psychological" or "social" characteristics as age, gender, race, state of health, lack of confidence, lack of help with childcare, or economic status (often existing simultaneously). We therefore treat this term broadly, with no special focus on any of the more specific groups. Such definition stays in accordance with other known from literature. E.g. (Jarvis, 2005) defines disadvantaged as “persons who, ..., have not had equality of opportunity to achieve their potential through educational means”. (Anderson & Niemi, 1969) noticed that disadvantaged status is not only a consequence of economic (or: objective) factors, but also subjective determinants that shapes person’s opinion about themselves. 4 Upskilling learners could be in terms of knowledge and aptitudes, attainment of qualifications or in soft/human skills that act as disadvantage. Each of these factors could contribute to economic and social disadvantage, reducing life chances.
  17. 17. 17 Fig. 3. Exemplar cycle of disadvantage Source: IMPADA partners 2.3.3. What do we know about adults with low skills One of the frequently described and subjected to educational impacts sub-groups of disadvantaged adults are low-skilled. There are many definitions of the low-skilled adults, one of that is the understanding presented by (Windisch, 2015) who finds three main characteristics of this group: - Low skills are strongly correlated with low level of education (ISCED 0-2). A group of particularly high risk are withdrawals; - Such correlation is the strongest in the group of young adults. Among older adults other factors start playing crucial role. These include for example: working in an environment that requires the use of Geographical migrancy Disrupted early schooling Low levels of literacy and numeracy Non- achievement of qualifications Unemployment Low economic advantage Unable to afford further education, dependancy on social welfare Unable to afford/maintain good standard of living
  18. 18. 18 literacy and numeracy skills as well as using the skills in family or social context (e.g. helping children with homework); - Literacy and numeracy skills tend to deteriorate because of non-use. The German Ministry of Education advises to providers to use some hints in recognising the low-skilled adults. The most often factors appearing in CVs are: low level of formal education; frequent changes in education (different schools), unexpected breaks in education or employment (BMBF, 2012). National strategies such as England’s Skills for Life Strategy, Australia’s National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults, Indonesia’s AKRAB programme, France’s National Agency for the Fight against Illiteracy, Germany’s National Strategy for Literacy and Basic Education of Adults are often designed as to improve the situation of adult low-skilled learners, thus they are an important source of knowledge. Following the assumption that low-skilled (understood as those who lack basic skills and qualifications) are one of the biggest (though not the only one) groups of disadvantaged adults, we reviewed the results from the Programme of International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC is an international survey held by the OECD in order to recognise the structural factors influencing adult competencies and to diagnose main deficits. The survey was held among representative adults from different OECD countries, with the same questionnaire, including measurement of numeracy and literacy, so it is possible to make the international comparisons based on the results of PIAAC. More than 160 thousand adults from 24 countries took part in the first edition of the survey (OECD, 2013a). The unique feature of PIAAC is that it measured skills levels among adult population using computer-based or paper tests, identifying those with lowest level of skills, i.e. those whose skills are at level 1 or below. We used the PIAAC data to identify the vulnerable groups in four countries that are taking part in IMPADA project: Poland, UK, Estonia and Italy and participated in PIAAC (Greece was not included, as Greece was not participating in the PIAAC survey). The low-skilled adults were there defined as those who performed less than 226 points in numeracy or literacy tests5 . Such an absolute measure caused that the share of people in the total adult population (in age group 15- 65) classified as low-skilled was different in different countries: Poland – 29,5%, UK – 25,8%, Italy – 37,8%, Estonia – 18,5%. The analysis allowed identifying from 3 to 11 groups (clusters) of adults6 , that are particularly at risk of being low-skilled. Those clusters are presented in Table 1. 5 PIAAC scores are normalised, so the OECD-average is 500. Thus the score 226 may be interpreted as “no more than a half of an OECD- average score”. 6 Please note that groups may overlap.
  19. 19. 19 Table 1. Identification of vulnerable groups on PIAAC data Country Group Group as percentage of total population Percentage of a group identified as low-skilled Italy ISCED 1 or lower education; retired or working; disabled 6,3% 69,9% Italy ISCED 1 or lower education; unemployed or housekeeping 4,5% 83,1% Italy ISCED 2 education; possesses less than 10 books; unemployed for more than 5 years 6,6% 68,2% Poland ISCED 2 or lower education; more than 47 years old; possesses less than 10 books, single 1,5% 84,2% Poland ISCED 1 education; possesses less than 100 books 2,4% 68,2% Poland ISCED 2 or lower education, low ISEI index7 (<22.16) 2,5% 64% UK ISCED 2 or lower education; housekeeping or unemployed; possesses less than 25 books 2,9% 83,2% UK ISCED 2 or lower education; low ISEI index (<28,5), low monthly earnings 1,9% 78,2% UK ISCED 4 or lower education, age above 40 years; not working for 5 years or more 1,6% 78,6% Estonia Unemployed or housekeeping; possessing less than 10 books 1,8% 58,2% Source: own estimates based on PIAAC database (OECD, 2013a) The table shows those groups, in which the share of low-skilled is above 50% and such statistics is found to be statistically significant. As one can notice, in almost all cases the key distinctive characteristic is low educational attainment (at ISCED level 2 or lower), but it is not always the case. Particularly interesting seems the Estonian case, where the unemployment and social environment (as one can understand the number of books) are sufficient factors leading to low level of skills, regardless the education. 7 International Socio-Economic Index of Occupational Status
  20. 20. 20 2.3.4. Existing models to increase effectiveness of community based adult education (including education for disadvantaged groups) The IMPADA project recognises that similar areas to that of interest of the IMPADA project have been developed previously. This section provides a summary of existing models, which the IMPADA project will use as support and inspiration for developing a framework. Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) WEA Single Equality Scheme (2014-16), includes “What Excellence will look like” and notes that the onus for implementing the strategy falls at all levels within the organisation. The This Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2014-16) model (Appendix I) recognises that this must be built from a collaborative culture with students at its heart, and that the barriers to this include Equality, Diversity and Inclusion seen as additional (as opposed to being embedded throughout the organisation as normal practice). The model illustrates that, to strive towards being recognised as a leading Equality, Diversity and Inclusion organisation in Adult and Community Learning, the organisation must achieve such factors as increasing participation by students affected by education, economic and social disadvantage; and achieve high success rates and outcomes for students from all social and cultural groups. RARPA – Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement in Community Learning courses A UK national framework from NIACE, which is quality assured and measures progress for non-qualification courses. An important aspect of charting learners’ progress, integrating assessment into the learning, and involving the learners in the process is RARPA. RARPA is a 5-staged process which Tutors in Community Learning use to improve provision for learners by engaging them in dialogue about their learning, their progress and their achievement. Applying the RARPA approach to learning in ways that are appropriate and systematic will provide valuable evidence of learners’ achievements. All of the elements are mapped for Quality Assurance to the CIF (Common Inspection Framework). The 5 elements of the staged process are: - Aims – appropriate to an individual learner or groups of learners; - Initial assessment – to establish each learner’s starting point; - Identification of appropriately challenging learning objectives; - Recognition and recording of progress and achievement during programme – formative assessment; - End of programme learner self-assessment, tutor summative assessment; review of overall progress and achievement. The staged process based on these elements seems to be particularly interesting form the perspective of adult learners from disadvantaged groups, because it takes into account learners’ diverse needs, interests and purposes of learning.
  21. 21. 21 North West Wellbeing Portfolio The portfolio focuses on factors (‘hidden depths’) which help create a successful community based health improvement intervention. These are: 1. Financial management; 2. Beneficiaries & Outcomes; 3. Governance; 4. Project Management; 5. Delivery Staff; 6. Organisational Capacity; 7. Project Planning & Sustainability; 8. Partnership Working; 9. Community Engagement; 10. Quarterly Reporting; 11. Evaluation; 12. Marketing; 13. Communication. We assume that these factors are crucial not only in the case of health improvement programmes, but also for all kinds of community based adult learning. Logic Model Learning Link Scotland and Evaluation Support Scotland developed Explaining the Difference (EtD) approach to evaluate and show the outcomes and the impacts of adult learning providers. At the centre of proposed toolkit they decided to put a logic model based on Wisconsin model (Learning Link Scotland 2016) as a useful tool for organisation of the assessment of the influence of specific factors. Its basic components (see Appendix II) seem to be suitable for the purpose of planning evaluation of adult education for disadvantaged groups.
  22. 22. 22 3. Main findings about quality factors Even though some solutions are more effective than others, there is much evidence showing that basic skills courses are generally effective in terms of improving adult learners’ skills (Myers & Myles, 2005; Vorhaus et al., 2011; Windisch, 2015). Myers & Myles, 2005 found that the least educated learners are most likely to gain from adult education. This effect is not equal for all low-skilled groups, e.g. evidence suggests that adult women gain more than men (Heckman, 2003). The problem is that, at the same time, poorly educated adults are least likely to participate in any type of education (Condelli, Kirshtein, Silver-Pacuilla, Reder, & Wrihley, 2010). Vorhaus et al., 2011 states that “Improved practice often precedes improved achievement: participation in ALN programmes leads to increased engagement in literacy and numeracy practices, and over time this can lead to gains in proficiency and achievement”. (p. 62) To better understand the character and subtleties of adult education effectiveness, we started with the analysis of key quality factors influencing adult education for disadvantaged, including low-skilled, groups. Conclusions from both – IMPADA focus groups and literature review – indicate 2 main groups of such factor (Ofsted, 2015b): 1. External factors – understood as factors independent or only to a certain extent dependent on the education providers, 2. Internal factors – significantly dependent on the performance of education providers. Factors from the first group (external factors) – generally – cannot be improved by the education providers, so they seem to be outside the scope of this study. However, each education provider has to be conscious of those factors. Such external factors sometimes serve as an obstacle, so the education provider has to adjust its programme (make reasonable adjustments) or organization in order to fully utilize its potential and benefits from its own work. The second group are the institutional factors, which can be grouped into 4 categories – adjusted to the needs of adult learners from disadvantaged groups – presented briefly in Figure 4 and Table 2 – some of which will be further discussed in next parts of this section.
  23. 23. 23 Learners Stakeholders Partners Strategy development, planning, marketing ParticipationProvision Fig. 4. Institutional quality factors Source: IMPADA partners Table 2. Institutional quality factors I. Strategy development, planning and marketing II. Participation III. Provision 1. Strategy development:  establishing "inclusion" as one of the key values of the training provider;  developing organisational strategy informed both by: a) current legislation (on the European and state level) and best practices in learning adults and equality, diversity and inclusion in education, b) assessment of needs as well as assessment of inputs (provider’s sources); 2. Assessment of needs of internal (actual and potential students grouped into target groups) versus external (community and 1. Recognition of participation barriers – in relation to (among others) recruiting learners from disadvantaged groups; 2. Developing "strategies of reaching" – answering to different sets of identified barriers (including individual and structural barriers); 3. Recruitment (and promotion) – with the use of recruitment channels (media, external institutions, etc.) and methods adjusted to identified barriers according to developed strategies of reaching, e.g.:  setting appropriate entry criteria, 1. Identification of individual needs of recruited learners (and their individual goals); 2. Identification of teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) strategies best suited to the needs of recruited learners (and their individual goals):  differentiation: individual approach (including meeting VAK/variety of learning preferences), flexibility of provision (including on-line and blended learning), variety of resources;  organisation of learning – adjusting tools, settings, methods and Feedback
  24. 24. 24 business) customers: based on priorities on state/regional/community level, statistical data, focus groups with stakeholders, learner voice surveys (including needs related to the fields of adult education and equality, diversity and inclusion in adult education – among others); 3. Assessment of inputs: including money (funding streams), people (staff), time, premises, equipment, etc.; 4. Setting strategic partnerships: with decision makers, communities, experts in the fields of adult education and equality, diversity and inclusion (including career advisors, social workers, etc.), employers (employers organisations), other external organisations (e.g. other training providers and intermediary organisations in outreach to difficult-to-engage groups), etc.; 5. Setting goals: short term/medium term/long term objectives (answering for defined needs of defined target groups – with the use of sources – inputs – adjusted to them); 6. Developing action plans and educational programmes.  providing scheme to recognise prior learning (informal and non- formal),  choosing appropriate – not stigmatising – names for educational programmes,  developing campaigns that show educational opportunities as well as potential benefits – in ways that correspond to the needs and barriers of prospective learners,  community promotion including consultation with prospective learners,  offering candidates professional support and guidance provided e.g. by qualified career advisors,  minimising bureaucratic procedures and maximizing accessibility by lowering costs of programmes and organising learning in easily accessible places,  making initial assessment possible friendly by e.g. resigning from entrance exams – when necessary,  conducting the process of recruitment consciously – proper recognition of individual barriers and acting according to candidates’ needs – and with respect, sympathy, empathy, openness, patience and individual approach to all learners, etc. 4. Retention:  recognising individual situations which may increase risk of not completing educational programme and providing appropriate support for learners at risk (coaching, helping with childcare, enabling distance learning, etc.);  being aware of specific times learners are more likely to withdraw and using proper intervention strategies; approaches to the identified needs;  formative assessment – good feedback/assessment practices, goal-oriented education;  establishing safe learning environment;  encouraging learners to build learning communities (mutual support and cooperation); 3. Curricula design – adjusting educational programmes to the identified needs; 4. Organisational issues – including clear and considered policies and procedures (regarding e.g. average length of a course, service intensity, average number of learners per course, procedures for equality, diversity and inclusion), as well as learning infrastructure – adjusted to learners' needs; 5. Proper selection of teachers/trainers – who should be competent in their fields, with high level of soft skills and proper attitude towards all learners.
  25. 25. 25  providing on-programme support for all learners (targeted guidance services, tutor management, etc.). Initial assessment – by internal and external experts, and assessment based on feedback from II (Participation) Initial assessment – by internal and external experts, tracking, and assessment based on feedback from III (Provision) Initial assessment of adjusted programmes and designed policies and procedures – by internal and external experts, getting on-going feedback from teachers/trainers and learners, and assessment based on feedback from I (Strategy development, planning and marketing) Source: IMPADA partners In general terms most of quality factors (either external or institutional) influence also other types of education (e.g. shape of curricula). However, there are two crucial differences: - adult learners from disadvantaged groups belong also to “hard-to-reach” groups, so the participation rates are much lower; - rates of achievement in adult education are non-linear, e.g. learners who completed the programme benefit (on average) more than twice more than those who withdrew in the middle of a programme (see e.g. Vorhaus et al., 2011). Given the above, the third part of this chapter, focused on the specificity of adult education for disadvantaged groups (especially basic skills teaching), is divided into 3 sections, and each of them describe one of the issues particularly important in case of this type of education. It should be noted that identified areas are complex to assess, as they are strongly influenced by both external and institutional factors. These are: - Strategy development, planning and marketing that – on one hand – should be based on putting equality, diversity and inclusion in the centre of provider’s key values and must be informed both by current legislation and best practices and that – on the other hand – should be strongly connected with provider’s situation (community, inputs – such as money, staff, premises, etc. – strategic partnerships, goals); - Participation that in adult education for disadvantaged groups, according to subject literature – apart from other impacts – depends on proper recruitment (including adequate and targeted promotion) and on actions aimed at enhancing adult learners to finish courses (that is at increasing retention); - Provision understood as teaching, learning, assessment and organisational strategies, methods and sources influencing outcomes of the students who finish the course. This approach will be followed in consecutive sections.
  26. 26. 26 3.1. External vs. internal quality factors As it was mentioned above, factors having positive or negative impact on effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups can be generally divided into two types: external and internal. The latter can be improved by adult education providers on their own. The former cannot be controlled, but it is also important to analyse them. Full knowledge on external factors shaping adult education helps providers adjust their programmes to given circumstances in order to overcome the given obstacles. There are two main types of external factors affecting adult education: 1. Public policies on education; this issue is not limited to policies on adult education, since it can also be affected by – say – formal elementary education; 2. Social policy (including policies on equity, diversity and inclusion) – vast majority of programmes for adults from disadvantaged groups is addressed to those who are also the beneficiaries of social policies. It is particularly crucial in case of activation policies or different types of mandatory programmes. The internal factors are introduced in further sub-sections. 3.2. Strategy development, planning and marketing In order to increase access to adult education and encourage more adults from disadvantaged groups to take part in educational activities aimed at evening their chances to live a satisfying life within society, adult education providers should constantly be improving their inclusive practices at all levels – strategic, tactical and operational. In the context of equality, diversity and inclusion strategy development, planning and marketing – understood as establishing target audiences and appealing to them – should include at least elements such as: 1. Strategy development – understood as a process in which provider engages on a regular basis (cycle) using an agreed procedure and methodology and following the assumptions listed below: o each organisational strategy should be informed by a variety of information sources (international, national and state level legislation, best practices, needs assessment and input assessment taking into account adult learners from disadvantaged groups), o adult education for disadvantaged groups should constitute important focal points of the provider’s strategy documents (e.g. vision, action plans, etc.), o implementation of the strategy (and its outcomes) should be regularly monitored and evaluated. 2. Needs assessment – understood as a target group need assessment study, aimed at identifying and address the needs of both internal and external customers, in which the provider engages on a regular basis following agreed and periodically revised methodology (based on collecting information from
  27. 27. 27 various sources – e.g. public statistics, target group representatives interviews or surveys, literature review, etc. 3. Goal setting and action plan design – aimed at developing an action plan strictly related to provider’s strategy and based on SMART methodology. 4. Strategic partnerships – with various types of stakeholders (decision makers, communities, experts in the fields of adult education, career advisors, social workers, employers, other external organisations etc.). One of the examples of strategy that seems to be built in accordance with the assumptions described above is strategy “Achieving Excellence Through Equality, Diversity & Inclusion” developed by the WEA (WEA, 2014- 2016). The document presents the WEA’s mission, vision, approach and values – all with respect to equality, diversity and inclusion – as well as the WEA’s understanding of these terms from the perspective of whole organisation, staff, students and volunteers. It indicates groups responsible for implementing the strategy, shows outcomes that should be realised and explains how the WEA wants to achieve equality, diversity and inclusion in teaching, learning and assessment. 3.3. Participation 3.3.1. Recognition of participation barriers Participation barriers – e.g. lack of awareness of learning opportunities as well as low motivation to engage in learning – are one of the most important factors influencing the effectiveness of adult education (Windisch, 2015). Various types of such barriers apply both to unemployed and those whose workplaces that don’t play the role of learning environments by engaging their employees in self-development and providing them basic education and training (Porras-Hernández & Salinas-Amescua, 2012). The most common types of barriers to lifelong learning, identified in a lot of previous research and applicable also to adult education (Desjardins & Rubenson, 2013; Litster, 2007; Windisch, 2015), are: 1. Situational barriers, created by learner’s personal situation. Usually it is linked with lack of time, caused by family and job obligations. It may also refer to other physical barriers such as inability to travel. 2. Institutional barriers that occur when learner is unable to fill the requirements to participate in a programme (financial or formal, e.g. lack of prerequisite qualifications). 3. Dispositional/psychological barriers when a learner has negative attitude to participate in a programme. In case of disadvantaged learners it is very often linked with bad formal education experiences. 4. Informational barriers when a learner is unable to receive proper information about the actual offer and potential benefits of a programme. 5. Financial constraints that are strictly linked with situational and institutional barriers.
  28. 28. 28 Desjardins & Rubenson (2013) conclude that there are two key aspects of barriers to adult education: individual and structural barriers. Education providers have to, therefore, apply different strategies to different sets of problems. It is particularly addressed to institutional barriers at the provider level. From the OECD’s review based on data from 1999-2004 (OECD, 2006) one can conclude that – in order to improve participation in LLL, including participation in adult education – educational authorities and policy makers should create and implement public policy focused on: (a) creating the structural preconditions for raising the benefits of basic skills learning; (b) sharing information on learning opportunities and benefits; (c) promoting well-designed co-financing arrangements; (d) improving delivery and quality control; and (e) ensuring policy co-ordination and coherence by involving stakeholders such as social partners, employers, labour unions, and education providers. Apart from the efforts that should be made by authorities, one can indicate activities necessary to implement by education providers from that promotion and recruitment seem to be the most important in the context of the need to increase disadvantaged adults’ participation in education. 3.3.2. Recruitment (including promotion) The first aspect of an effective recruitment into adult education programmes is its proper promotion. Disadvantaged adults often lack the information on the possibilities of taking part in adult education. One of the most important reasons is that they use another media than those in which such programmes are promoted. Furthermore, even those who have information about the possibility to apply to a programme often lack the knowledge about the potential benefits of such programmes and, consequently, are not motivated to apply. Finally, disadvantaged (or hard-to-reach) adults can have bad formal school experiences, so they are discouraged from taking part in any other kind of education. The latter issue is also an important factor in discussion the mandatory programmes (e.g. when participation in adult education is requirement for receiving unemployment benefits). People who are discouraged from any kind of education are very unlikely to achieve any significant progress while participating in adult education. Furthermore, lack of progress only deepens the discouragement, creating a harsh vicious circle. Thus, the promotion of positive outcomes of adult education should also be directed to mandatory students. All of those factors mean that the effective adult education provider should implement a number of strategies to adequately promote its services. One can find a growing number of the literature on which strategies can be effective and why. (Windisch, 2015) identifies some characteristics of promotion the hard-to-reach groups. First of all, they are far more easily reached in community context. Thus, one way to improve the participation rates is to work in the community (Hamilton & Wilson, 2005). Similarly, (Mcintosh, 2004) suggests that the one-to-one approach is the most effective way to engage learners. Such approach may be best achieved in a community context.
  29. 29. 29 Communities are also good places to provide education programmes. Places such as community centres or workplaces are more accessible for potential learners, so it is much easier to convince them to try applying to a programme. There are also another benefits of communities. If a person lives in a community where education is believed to be profitable or valuable he/she is more likely to engage in any kind of formal or non-formal education. Thus, education providers may try to change attitude of whole community. There is also growing body of evidence on how the programmes are perceived by potential learners. Some researchers suggest that a name of a course is one of the factors increasing or decreasing participation rates. Programmes which names directly suggest that they are addressed to the low-skilled or disadvantaged learners (e.g. “Reading and writing”) are perceived by learners as a kind of stigma. To avoid such risks, it is recommended to use indirect names, such as “communication skills”. Another aspect that must be analysed by an education provider is how a certain programme fits into specific type of disadvantaged learners. For instance, it is shown that adults who have higher numeracy levels are more likely to participate in on-the-job training (Parsons & Bynner, 2007). Such observations have to be taken into account while designing promotion and recruitment activities. Even though adult education is understood as non-vocational type of education, one should not pass over the occupational context. As Vorhaus et al. (2011, p. 62) noticed: “Workplace basic skills courses can reach people who are not normally involved in continuous education or training”. (p. 62) This aspect was noticed by (NAO, 2008), who claims that the first crucial point of a successful educational offer addressed to adults from disadvantaged groups is creation of an offer integrated with a specific place of work (specific job). This can be explained by the fact that people who are away from education are likely to be interested in returning to learning only if they believe that the knowledge they can gain will help them to take a chosen job. On the basis of positive examples one may identify specific factors that play a role in this process. These include enhanced working environment, professional support provided by a qualified tutor experienced in working with people with difficulties in learning and the possibility of validation and certification of informal and non-formal learning (e.g. skills acquired at work), particularly important because otherwise skills acquired in such ways would not be recognized by other (future) employers. Ambos stresses also that the low skilled prefer to acquire professional skills informally or in a non-formal way, in particular through observation and practice as well as through training or apprenticeships in their workplace. At the same time, they demonstrate distance to classic education opportunities (such as courses organized outside their working environment) and to traditional methods of learning (such as reading professional literature or learning via Internet) (Steiner, Voglhofer, Schneeweiß, Tamara Baca, & Fellinger-Fritz, 2012). Individual counselling is one of the most important factors that contribute to arousing interest in further education among members of this group. With respect to people who are "away from education" yet still professionally active, it is recommended to organize such counselling at their place of work, because it allows
  30. 30. 30 for a clearer understanding of their specific professional situation. Furthermore, in case of people that wish to learn and return to the labour market, individual counselling allows facing their fear of not succeeding, which is often indicated as the main barrier to making decisions about further education. It applies especially to elderly people who are often afraid that they will not be able to work with much younger co-workers (ibidem). In order to reach this group, it is important that educational offer was easily accessible. Three aspects play here a key role: a) easy access to education programme, without bureaucratic procedures, b) lack of entrance exam, c) easy access to the place where a process of education is being realized. Accessibility of educational offer is also connected with its costs. It can be seen that free offers are particularly attractive and thus easily accessible. Since people belonging to this group could be seen to be usually low paid and have little involvement in education, the need to cover costs of education is one of the main barriers to learning. At the same time, these people often lack the ability to find a suitable offer via the Internet. For these reasons, it is important to create opportunities to provide information about learning programmes with the use of methods alternative to the Internet. One such method is posting advertisements in regional and local press (Steiner et al., 2012). As it was stated before, proper promotion is essential to effective recruitment. Windisch (2015) presents the approach to recruitment designed by German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). According to this approach, recruitment of adults with low basic skills involves two key elements: recognition of such persons and proper talking to them. Apart from demographic or social characteristics (see section 2.2), it is advised to analyse certain behavioural characteristics and – on this basis – to recognise needs of adult learners. Typical recognised behaviours are: - Refusal of reading or writing, using hardly plausible excuses (such as the lack of glasses) - Refusal of educational offers - Signing unread documents - Ignoring written materials, e.g. flyers - Inability to read or write a text longer than a single sentence. (Windisch, 2015) finds also that screening and initial assessment are crucial. However, it has to be conducted sensitively and carefully in order to better meet the learners’ needs and not to demoralise them. Good recognition of adults with low skills (and wider – all adults at disadvantage) is crucial for successful recruitment. First of all, it allows a provider to place a learner in a proper programme – if the person is wrongly placed in the programme (e.g. he/she finds the programme as a throwing into deep water), he/she can be easily discouraged, withdraw from the programme (see section 3.3.3) and, finally, refuse to participate in another programmes. Secondly, proper recognition of a disadvantaged person allows provider to adapt the recruitment process in order to increase the probability of convincing him/her to participate in a programme. BMBF lists five key aspects of adequate communication with low-skilled adults that seem to be important in the context of all disadvantaged groups: sympathy, empathy, openness, patience and individual approach. Sensitiveness and respect to all learners may be crucial in encouraging them to participate in adult learning and in further successful completion of the program.
  31. 31. 31 The next aspect identified by Windisch (2015) is partnerships of employers and trade unions. They are considered as an important and effective drivers of workplace based basic education programmes that help to support learners’ motivation and raise retention rates. In addition, it is typical – particularly for the group of low-skilled adults – that they generally are not able to express concrete expectations towards educational offer, which is of their interest. This is often due to their lack of knowledge and awareness of the available educational opportunities. For this reason, institutions involved in adult education have to identify and meet the interests and needs of these people and create an offer, which will be most adapted to their needs. One of the possibilities of reaching this group is to place educational offer in a group’s cultural and social environment (community context – see above) (ibidem). The importance of proper recruitment was also stressed by the participants of IMPADA focus groups, especially when they answered the question about what could be improved in the adult education provided to disadvantaged groups in order to deal with the issue of group heterogeneity. In 4 out of 5 groups "targeted appropriate support and differentiation" (including – among others – ‘recognition of prior knowledge') was cited, in 3 out of 5 – “ethnographic approach” (including – among others – ‘using of methods such as interviews, observation, cultural mediations etc., in order to understand each group of learners needs' as well as 'challenging stereotypes'). On the basis of their experiences and documentation considered as relevant to the effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups, the IMPADA partners who are adult education providers pointed that – beside all the factors that were mentioned above – one of the most powerful and persuasive promotional tool in the case of recruitment of disadvantaged learners are case studies of learners’ success stories. Adult education providers should therefore collect and promote such stories not only to strengthen their students’ motivation to learn (see: next section), but also to make their recruitment processes much more effective. 3.3.3. Retention As was mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, the key to successful adult education programme are high retention rates. Learners benefit the most when they complete whole programme as well as such impact is correlated with attendance to particular lessons (Windisch, 2015). However, adults from disadvantaged groups are not only less likely to participate in adult education, but also are more likely to withdraw during the programme. (Coben et al., 2007) mention that average attendance in 150-hours courses was just 39 hours – such pattern is also a case in many other programmes. Therefore, keeping high motivation among learners is one of the key tasks for education provider. There is no unequivocal evidence suggesting who is most likely to withdraw during the course, mainly because hardly any provider monitors this issue, which results in lack of proper data (Vorhaus et al., 2011). Numerous sources (Alkema & Rean, 2014; European Commission, EACEA, & Eurydice, 2015; Vorhaus et al., 2011; Windisch, 2015) cite guidance services for disadvantaged adults as an important way to improve their
  32. 32. 32 motivation to participate in adult education. Though this factor seems to be crucial, there are hardly any European countries that provide guidance services for adults who do not participate in public employment services, and this group is limited and does not cover a large fraction of disadvantaged adults (European Commission et al., 2015). Windisch (2015), therefore, concludes that a structural guidance services aimed to support disadvantaged learners are not popular among European countries. In a report of (European Commission et al., 2015) there are just a few examples of such strategies on a national level: Austrian “Zentrale Beratgungsstelle für Basisbildung und Alphabetisierung”), German telephone guidance services, Luxembourg’s “Maison de l’orientation” and Portugal’s “Centros para a Qualificação e o Ensino Profissional”. In a majority of countries where such strategies are absent it is advised to prepare (out of necessity in a smaller scale) similar solutions by adult education providers. Windisch, 2015 finds appropriate information, advice and guidance as crucial factors increasing retention rates in adult education for disadvantaged groups. Many disadvantaged students are unaware of potential benefits of education and therefore do not take advantage of them. That often contributes to the decision of withdrawing the programme. American researchers suggest that the fraction of students actually benefiting from the different forms of guidance is very slight and even smaller among the disadvantaged adults. They therefore suggest implementation of Crockett’s idea of “intrusive advising” (Mcdonnell & Soricone, 2014). It is important to note that a single case of withdrawal does not always prove that the programme failed. Sometimes the changing circumstances in personal situation of a learner (such as sicknesses or personal problems) force him/her to withdraw from the programme. In such cases an education provider should recognise such persons and provide them support in retaining to the programme when their situation gets back to normal. Such support should principally involve strengthening learner’s motivation and additional measures as distance and blended learning that helps learners to minimize losses (Vorhaus et al., 2011). Furthermore, when it comes to providing support parallel to teaching, it should be tailored to the kind of disadvantaged people (in terms of specific sub-groups) – e.g. for those with the care responsibility it is important to provide childcare possibilities or to create family friendly places of learning. The most important aspect in this case is flexibility in terms of time of learning. Learning is problematic especially for those with care responsibilities. Financial issues should also be taken into account, since high tuition could be and often is a major barrier to making decisions about starting and continuing learning among members of this group. Moreover, it is strongly recommended to create separate educational offers aimed at various sub-groups, such as migrants and older people (Steiner et al., 2012). Supporting learners’ motivation and high retention rates means assisting learning during and beyond formal classes. One interesting conclusion of Vorhaus et al. (2011, p. 14) is that “breaking off from programmes is not always a programme failure but may be a more 'rational and positive response to changing circumstances' (...)”.
  33. 33. 33 Taking it into account, adult education providers must ensure that – when those external circumstances change – a learner will not be discouraged from coming back into programme. Thus, the guidance and assistance for learners must occur not solely during the programme, but also beyond it. One of the factors influencing retention rates and – as it seems – often underestimate by providers is their awareness of specific times learners are more likely to withdraw, which should be followed be using proper intervention strategies. In WVABE Instructor Handbook such specific “withdrawal times” are listed:  time after the first meeting – because of panic over the threatening prospect of not succeeding,  period within the first three weeks,  period within three to nine months when learners reach their “plateau of progress”,  time after holidays or during periods of inclement weather (WVABE, 2009). According to the handbook’s authors, maintaining high retention rate during each of these specific times requires the use of different intervention strategies with accompanying ongoing assessment of learners’ needs. In this context the education provider is perceived as mainly responsible for anticipation of potential problems. Vorhaus et al. (2011) find that the key to learners’ motivation to complete certain educational programme is a sensitive monitoring of progress. The lack of (self-reported) outcomes of adult education is often a reason why learners are discouraged from programmes. Such monitoring should also involve the “soft outcomes, such as improvements in self-confidence” and can be the basis for formative assessment, which is one of many examples of institutional quality factors influencing learners’ retention and outcomes at the same time. We grouped most of such factors in the category “Provision”, which is further discussed in the next part of this chapter. 3.4. Provision 3.4.1. Teaching, learning and assessment strategies Among factors referring to the quality of provision and significantly influencing learners’ retention rates, the widest group consists of factors connected with developing and using teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) strategies. In fact, to that category belong – listed by Litster (2007) who summarized the number of surveys and British experiences in subject area – strategies aiming at improvement of learners’ motivation to complete an educational activity they have already started. She grouped them into five groups: safe learning environment, community in the classroom, individualization of learning, goal-oriented education and supporting self-improvement. The first group, a safe learning environment, is mainly addressed to teachers. It is crucial to create the relationship between teacher and learner that makes the latter more confident and willing to learn. Litster (2007) lists examples such as: - Finding common interests with learners;
  34. 34. 34 - Knowing their names; - Communication the learners’ language (at least learning few words); - Understanding the learners’ personal situation and their problems with motivation; - Chatting with learners and giving informal advice; - Cooperation with other teachers and staff who also deal with a given student. Community in a classroom focuses on creating the cooperation among students that help them benefit from each other. Litster (2007) mentions following strategies: - Controlling learners’ attendance and finding out the reason, with offering the help to solve problems that limit their participation; - Team working, working in pairs; - Setting up a “buddy system”, in which one student is a support for the other; - Creating possibilities to make up for those who miss a class; - Engaging former students to talk about their motivation and successes; - Engaging students to talk about their “goals, motivations, hopes and fears”. The third element, individual approach to each learner, is complementary to the former two. It helps a learner to understand that they can personally benefit from a programme and – therefore – improve their motivation to actively participate. There are three proposals of obtaining this goal: - Establishing clear learning routes; - Finding links to learners’ personal experiences and redesigning a programme as to make it relevant to their lives; - Creating activities that involve personal impact in the learning, such as writing diaries or personal histories. Goal-oriented education is a strategy that is common for adult and other education. In case of the former, the proposed strategies involves: - Explaining to students what does goal-setting really mean; - Finding out learners’ real goals; - Asking students about the factors that might affect their performance and – therefore – obtaining their goals; - Revisiting goals on a regular basis; - Using formative assessment (discussed later in the chapter). One of the most important outcomes of adult education is to encourage learners to continue their education and self-development also after the completion of one programme. Strategies that support self-learning and self-development are: - Encouraging learners to take responsibility for their education by working independently, fulfilling homework etc.;
  35. 35. 35 - Solid assessment of homework; - Giving the comments and advice on the homework, both verbal and written. The last two of the strategies mentioned above are examples of formative assessment, that is one of the most important elements of high quality provision of educational services, which will be further discussed in this section. Another relevant factor recognised by Windisch (2015) is supporting self-study. It helps to achieve additional goals as well as is one of the most efficient ways to support high retention: when a learner is prepared to self- study, it is much easier to enable them to survive the period outside of education and henceforth come back to the programme. Some strategies, especially those involving advisory, are common for all types of education and experiences in another schools may be also useful for adult education for disadvantaged groups. For instance, Bailey & Alfonso (2005) analysed the practices in (2-year) community colleges in United States and found 4 strategies that were proven to have a positive impact on the quality of provision in those institutions. Those are: 1. Supporting learning with advisory, mentoring and counselling; 2. Creating learning communities that help learners to better benefit from teachers’ experience; 3. Creating special programmes or services for underprepared learners (this point is crucial from a point of view of analysing the adult education for disadvantaged groups); 4. Having a “college-wide” perspective on reforming and improving services: since the institutional elements of education programme are highly complementary, the education provider must not analyse learners' performances on a basis of one single aspect. Very similarly, Siebert (2003) proposed five recommendations to maximise retention rates, which – according to the framework presented at the beginning of this section (Table 2) – are strongly related to the "provision" component: - Counselling based on full, realistic and objective information; - Recognition of learners’ interests and goals in the beginning of the programme; - Ongoing assessment; - Recognition of the causes on why some students do not complete educational programmes, based on interviews with both those who withdrew and those who completed a course; - Enabling the flexible learning modes by modularisation of programmes. Casey et al. (2006) found the embedded programmes to have a positive impact on retention rates. They understand "embedded" as the programmes that integrate vocational and basic skills provision. Particularly, most effective embedded programmes were characterised by a strict collaboration between literacy, numeracy and vocational teachers. In order to adjust an educational offer to the possibilities and needs of disadvantaged adults, it is also important that the form of learning and thus developing new skills does not refer to their past school negative
  36. 36. 36 experiences. Regular feedback focused on made progress and implemented in the form of coaching may be of help here (see – formative assessment – characterised later in this chapter). Furthermore, one has to keep in mind that motivation is the key aspect not only before the start of learning, but it should be the integral part of the whole process (Steiner et al., 2012). Among factors of high quality educational provision – and narrowing the scope – factors related to TLA strategies, we can also indicate organisation of learning – understood as use of certain practices, tools, settings, methods and approaches aimed at increasing learners’ engagement and motivation to learn as well as adjusting educational process to diagnosed learners’ needs, including: - Focus on identification of learners' needs; - Additional support for learners – if needed (e.g. childcare, financial support, adaptive equipment) – strongly influencing learners' retention as well as their outcomes, as it was mentioned before; - Establishing partnerships and working closely with different stakeholders in order to link formal and informal learning and learning in different environments as well as to identify local needs in the field of adult education. As previously mentioned, one of the most important characteristics of adult education for disadvantaged groups is that learners often have bad experiences with formal class-based education and, therefore, negative attitudes to learning. Such attitudes affect not only participation and retention, but also learners’ performance – discouraged learners are more passive during a programme and, consequently, less likely to succeed. Windisch (2015, p. 58) puts it simply: “the learning context matters for success”. The National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy prepared series of reports analysing the effectiveness of particular types of basic skills education: writing (Grief, Meyer, & Burgess, 2007), reading (Brooks, Burton, Cole, & Szczerbiński, 2007) and numeracy (Coben et al., 2007). According to the report on writing (Grief et al., 2007), the following strategies were proven to be effective: - Using texts of different kinds, e.g. applying writing short stories, letters or e-mails, complaints or acknowledgments, etc.; - Using texts with meaningful contexts in that learner can find the links with real life, both in substance (e.g. stories on his own autobiography or family) and form (e.g. complaints on real products, as mentioned above); - Discussions on writing, both with a teacher and with a group; - Individual feedback from a teacher – marking of writing should involve not only grades, but also teacher's comments on what should be improved. Benseman, Sutton, & Lander's, (2005) report on reading focuses on slightly different approaches. According to them, the key to effective reading provision are skilled teachers who apply a variety of teaching strategies. The impact of "quality" of teachers is discussed in one of the next sections of this report. Second factor identified
  37. 37. 37 by (Benseman et al., 2005) is – similarly to the case of writing – creating curricula linked to life. Provision is much more effective when the examples of texts that are read during the course are somewhat familiar for students, e.g. have reference to their professional experiences or living environments. Finally, the strategy that is proven to be very effective is implementing the reciprocal reading, involving cooperation among students. An additional factor identified by Vorhaus et al., (2011) is the assistance for a teacher, important because of the fact that the effective provision of adult education must combine two elements: good subject knowledge and pedagogical preparation. Since subject teachers often lack the competencies adjusted to the needs of disadvantaged adults, a teaching assistant may serve as an important factor of improving adult education quality. Ofsted, (2007) points on the desirable character of such assistance. Competencies of a subject teacher and a support tutor should be highly complementary, and their work is most effective when they tightly cooperate, including the preparation of a programme and the design of curriculum. A situation in which a teaching assistant limits their engagement to in-class activities, however, often occurs, and this can lower overall programme quality. The third crucial type of basic skills education is numeracy programmes. Coben et al., (2007) examined their provision in UK to conclude that the most important factor is flexibility. That should involve: the possibilty to adapt a programme to diverse group of learners and changing during the course expectations on final outcomes. However, they noticed that among British providers such diversity was mediocre: they identified very limited use of practial tools and ICT. The organisation of learning was dominated by whole-class approach to learning and limited use of group or collaborative work. Factors connected with the organisational site of learning were often mentioned during IMPADA focus groups, especially: - when discussing what could be improved in adult education programmes for disadvantaged groups in order to improve its effectiveness (5/5 indications in case of "identification of learners' needs", 3 – in cases of "additional support" and "partnerships"); - when discussing factors that should be included in adult education for the disadvantaged training programmes (3/5 indications in case of "using social pedagogy – supporting the process of learning, e.g. 'searching for <knowledge distributors> also within learners' social environment', 'working with members of families' etc.). One of the most significant components of strategies aimed at high quality educational provision is formative assessment – following the distinction on two types of assessment, “formative” and “summative", proposed by Looney (2011). Summative assessment is a more regular and common one: it involves the assessment of a learner’s performance based on his/her achievements, measured with the use of tests or examinations taking place by the end of a programme. Summative assessment is also a part of validation process, since it is a way to prove that a learner gained learning outcomes required for obtaining a certain qualification (certificate or diploma) and therefore it may be used to get access to higher levels of education or some specific occupations.
  38. 38. 38 On the other hand, formative assessment is also based on learner’s performance, but it has more ongoing character and another goal: improvement of learning process. Thus, the formative assessment may serve as a way to identify learning needs and to adjust teaching processes. Looney (2011) sums up the difference, noticing that “summative assessment is sometimes referred to as assessment of learning, and formative assessment, as assessment for learning”. Table 3. Types of assessment Formative Summative Informal Where are we so far? What do we want to do next? Example: a fitness class for people with arthritis What do we learn? Example: an introduction to art history class Formal How much assessment specification/learning outcomes have we achieved? Example: an NVQ portfolio development workshop Did we achieve all the learning outcomes? What grade/level has been attained? Example: AVCE/A level classes Source: (Hillier, 2005) Derrick & Ecclestone (2008) analysed the issue of formative assessment in detail. As was mentioned before, formative assessment is believed to be one of the most effective strategies to improve retention rates. It also has a positive impact on outcomes of adult learning, since it helps to adjust the curricula to the changing motives of learners and their progress in learning. Derrick & Ecclestone (2008) identified two aspects of adult learning in the context of formative assessment: “The first of these consists of practices and activities in which the purpose is to produce evidence for the planning of future learning and/or for constructive feedback and review: these might include activities such as assignments, tests, role-play, performances, observations, questioning, etc. It is important to note that these activities can also be used primarily for purposes that are not essentially formative or to support learning, for example to fulfil bureaucratic requirements or to serve the purposes of summative assessment. Secondly, formative assessment can take the form of learning activities which aim to develop the autonomy of learners by giving them practice in the use of relevant skills and knowledge in real-life contexts, and particularly in the assessment and evaluation of their performance and those of others, in those contexts.” (p. 71). They also identified the following aspects of formative assessment that are crucial for an effective provision:
  39. 39. 39 - Formative assessment cannot be used instead of summative assessment. The latter still exists as an essential strategy in adult education. However, its tools shall be “used formatively”. Derrick & Ecclestone, (2008, p. 73) put it in a such way: “this involves finding ways to get students to <<get beneath>> and <<go beyond>> the bald results of the summative assessment processes and try to understand how they work and reflect on what they mean.” - Formative assessment may be used in planning activities, as to adjust the plans to actual needs; - There should be an on-going evaluation of teachers’ communication skills, particularly those involving listening, empathy and understanding; - Feedback should be constructive and practical. It also should not be taken by a learner personally, so it has to address the task; - The assessment should aim at “improving motivation and confidence, autonomy, and citizenship”; - Good cooperation between teachers should lead to an exchange of questioning techniques. The authors state that open questions are more effective than those as: double questions, leading questions, rhetorical questions, closed questions; - The assessment during all the stages of adult education programmes should involve peer assessment and self-assessment; - The assessment techniques are often not understood by learners. One of the most popular reasons for that fact is that adult learners from disadvantaged groups use different language than teacher. In practice formative assessment should involve: “Encouraging learners to develop, discuss and evaluate their own assessment criteria and assessment materials, as well as collectively designing “perfect” answers [which] will at the same time help them understand and critique the language of official assessment criteria.“ (Derrick & Ecclestone, 2008, p. 75); - There is sometimes a tension between the “letter” and “spirit” of formative assessment. Formative assessment is often understood in very narrow way, that is limited to defining the learning goals. However, the spirit of formative assessment is “a way of engaging learners deeply with their learning in order to develop critical and cognitive autonomy.” (ibidem); - Formative assessment is useful in all types of adult education. Formative assessment (or assessment FOR learning as opposed to assessment OF learning) became the most important area of professional interest for English education authority – Dylan Wiliam. In his “Embedded Formative Assessment” Wiliam presents 5 strategies of embedded classroom formative assessment (Wiliam, 2011). These are: 1. Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions and success criteria; 2. Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievement; 3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward; 4. Activating students as instructional resources for one another; 5. Activating students as owners of their own learning.

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