Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Published by the University of Technology, Sydney (Australia) ePRESS, Literacy and Numeracy Studies (LNS) “promotes research, scholarship and critical analysis of policy and practice concerning the many and complex ways that adult literacy and numeracy are implicated in the lives of young people and adults.” An interesting aspect of this annual journal is that the editors believe that “adult literacy and numeracy practices are locally situated [and] influenced by the cultures and contexts of use.” So in addition to addressing aspects of literacy studies, the journal also examines “what people do with their skills, and how they use them with different texts and modalities and in differing contexts.”
The international nature of this journal is important, since, as the editors state, “Building and measuring adult literacy and numeracy competence are central concerns across many nations. Although these concerns wax and wane as a significant policy focus, efforts by international agencies such as the OECD and UNESCO to standardise policy responses remain strong. The editors welcome analysis and critique of such developments as essential to a contemporary understanding of this field.”
Material in each issue can include an editorial essenially introducing the issue, peer reviewed articles, book reviews, and pieces known as “Refractions.” Refractions are “more rhetorical and controversial pieces likely to interest [the journal’s] readers. Refractions papers are not normally submitted to external review, and the editors welcome Responses to Refractions pieces.
Recently published peer reviewed articles include, “What happened to our community of practice? The early development of Adult Basic Education in NSW through the lens of professional practice theory,” “Adult reading teachers’ beliefs about how less-skilled adult readers can be taught to read,” “Write Like a Visual Artist: Tracing artists’ work in Canada’s textually mediated art world,” “Workforce Development Rhetoric and the Realities of 21st Century Capitalism,” “Vocational Literacy in Mozambique: Historical Development, Current Challenges and Contradictions,” and “Predictors of English Health Literacy among U.S. Hispanic Immigrants: The importance of language, bilingualism and sociolinguistic environment.” They reveal LNS’ international coverage, as well as the practice-based nature of the content. A recently published book review, “Beyond Economic Interests: Critical Perspectives on Adult Literacy and Numeracy in a Globalised World,” echoes those characteristics of the journal.
The Refractions article, “Challenging a Statistic: Why should we accept that 60 percent of adult Australians have low health literacy?” discusses the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2008 national health survey and its “use of a criterion level (level 3) to determine the point below which nearly 60 percent of Australian adults can be considered to have inadequate health literacy,” and argues that “this criterion level is arbitrary and statistically unjustified, yet it serves the purpose of presenting health literacy as a ‘crisis’ demanding action, which in turn represents the interests of dominant groups in this globalised, neo-liberal era.” No Response paper has yet been published to this article.
The journal is published out of Australia and the editorial team comes from institutions in Australia and New Zealand, but the issues examined within LNS will be of interest to a broader audience and should be brought to the attention of any researcher in adult literacy studies.