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The ALM bulletin is a bimonthly newsletter from Adults Learning Mathematics (ALM).
ALM is an international research forum bringing together researchers and practitioners in adult mathematics/numeracy teaching and learning in order to promote the learning of mathematics by adults.

Alm March bulletin

In this bulletin we have departed from the usual introductory remarks given by the ALM Chair and instead David contributes an important article about changes to ALM Conference Proceedings. You will also find some interesting reports from ALM members on conferences they have attended, news about newly published articles and an update on the fast-approaching ALM 26. We hope you enjoy these snippets from the ALM community and feel inspired to make your own contribution by sending in news from your part of the world, attending ALM 26 and of course, becoming a paid-up member if you have not already done so.

ALM26 - Maths in a Digital Age

The National Centre of Mathematics Education (NCM), University of Gothenburg and Adult Education in Collaboration (ViS) warmly invite you to the 26th Adults Learning Mathematics Conference (ALM) which will take place in Lund, Sweden, July 7th – 10th 2019. Arrangements for the conference are moving fast so please do visit the ALM website to view further details and note the important dates for submitting an abstract and/or registering to attend.

If you have not yet submitted an abstract then please remember that these need to be sent no later than 12pm GMT on Monday, March 25, 2019. Information about how to submit an abstract can be found on the ALM website at http://www.alm-online.net/alm26_conference/

ALM Conference Proceedings - a new process

At its February 2019 meeting the ALM Trustees made some significant decisions on the content of the conference proceedings and the relationship between the conference proceedings and the ALM International Journal (ALMIJ), as summarised below.
  1. In future the publication of the conference proceedings and Journal will be separate.
  2. The Journal will continue to publish articles that have been peer reviewed arising from a conference session, but there will no longer be Journal issues specifically dedicated to a particular conference.
  3. The Proceedings will mostly be based on the long abstracts, with some opportunity for presenters to amend their abstracts based on conference discussions, or other information, to create a short article. The Proceedings will not include papers that have been published in the Journal.
  4. These changes will take place from the ALM 26 conference onwards.
It may be useful to have some background to this and a summary of the reasons why we thought this was necessary. In the early years of ALM no papers went through a peer review process. All papers were put in with some support and editing when necessary, by the local organising team. In the Proceedings of ALM 12 (published in 2006) authors were given the option to submit their papers to a peer review process. All papers were published together, with an asterisk denoting those that had been through the review process.

In 2014 it was decided to publish peer-reviewed articles arising from the conference in the ALMIJ. These articles were subsequently re-published in the Proceedings of ALM 20 with non-reviewed articles submitted for the proceedings. This has continued to be the process since then.
The other major change that has taken place since ALM began publishing proceedings has been the growth of new technology, which has of course transformed all aspects of publishing, with a huge impact on small organisations like ours.

In recent years we have found co-ordinating the publication of the same articles in both the proceedings and ALMIJ has caused difficulties for the editorial group of each publication. We have also found that the number of non-peer reviewed articles offered for publication in the proceedings has gradually decreased. For ALM 25 an experiment was carried out and contributors were asked to submit both the usual short abstract and a longer one as well. This new process has proved successful and therefore has enabled us to make the changes described above.

Finally I would like to add that in the implementation of the new process the intent is for local conference committees to still add their own flavour to the publication and control of the production of the proceedings.

David Kaye

Chair ALM Trustees

Conference reports from ALM members

Catherine Byrne reports on CERME held in Utrecht, February 6th-10th 2019.

The first ever Topic Working Group (TWG) on Adult Mathematics Education (AME) was held at the 11th Congress of Educational Research in Mathematics Education (CERME) this year. The working group was initiated by ALM member Kees Hoogland (University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands) who also chaired the group. The co-chairs were also ALM members: Beth Kelly (University College London, UK) and Javier-Diez-Palomar (University of Barcelona, Spain). Many attendees were also ALM members.

We had a wide geographical representation in this group, from Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom. Participants were drawn from widely different areas of mathematics education and research, including third level education, vocational education, prison education and community education. Presenters in our group had links to other projects and programmes including OECD - PIAAC (IALS, ALL), Hamburger Numeracy Project, EU-Erasmus+: Common European Numeracy Framework, UNESCO: Institute for lifelong learning, Adults Learning Mathematics (ALM), Adults Numeracy Network (ANN) and European Basic Skills Network (EBSN).

Many themes emerged during the TWG, including language and dialogue, inclusion and agency, power structures, vulnerable people, gender, learner perspective and culture, vocational versus academic, affect, motivation, special groups, vulnerable people, fighting “math anxiety”, teaching and learning activities, contrasts to “regular” education, numeracy definitions, scope, content, context, from numeracy as a curriculum to numeracy as a social practice, empowerment, self-confidence.

https://cerme11.org/

Jeff Evans reports on Numeracy as part of Adult (Basic) Education: International and Comparative Perspectives held in Hamburg, 15-16 November 2018.

This conference was sponsored by the Hamburg Numeracy Project, a well-funded numeracy project based in the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and the three Universities in the city of Hamburg (which is also a ‘Land’ in the German federal system). Some 75 researchers attended, including four or five of us associated with ALM.

Plenary speakers included:
  • Richard Desjardins on ‘Three Generations of Comparative Studies of Adult Learning, Practices and Competences’ (based on his book The Political Economy of Advanced Learning Systems);
  • Jean Lave and Rogers Hall on ‘Structural Arrangements for Ensemble Learning: Production Schools and Marching Bands’ (describing the power of informal learning environments);
  • Stephen Reder on ‘Practice Engagement in Adults' Cognitive and Social Development’ (giving an account of Practice Engagement theory); and
  • Iddo Gal on ‘Conclusion and Outlook: Reflections on Numeracy Competences and Practices’ (summing up).
Versions of the 25+ papers delivered at the conference will be published in Special Issues (themed) of Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language and Numeracy; and Zeitschrift fur Weiterbildungsforschung (ZfW, Journal of Research into Further Education).

For further information on the programme, see: https://www.ew.uni-hamburg.de/einrichtungen/ew3/erwachsenenbildung-und-lebenslanges-lernen/projekte/aktuelle-projekte/_images/preliminaryprogramme1.pdf

Papers and reports of interest

Beth Kelly (2018) Motivating adults to learn mathematics in the workplace: a trade union approach, International Journal of Lifelong Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2018.1555190

This qualitative study explores adults’ motivation to learn mathematics in the workplace and the role that the trade union education approach promoted in the United Kingdom plays in that motivation. Trade unions promote education which uses teaching and learning approaches based on collectivist and activist principles, which is different from mainstream education, so the research explores what might be learnt from this approach. The findings show that the trade union-led approach enables even long-held negative feelings towards mathematics to become positive.

Andrew Noyes, Diane Dalby and Yvonna Lavis (2018). A survey of teachers of mathematics in England’s Further Education Colleges.

This is an interim report from the project Mathematics in Further Education Colleges (MiFEC) which is funded by the Nuffield Foundation. At a time when England is suffering from a shortage of mathematics teachers in England, this report summarises important findingsabout who is teaching mathematics in colleges, their pathways into post-16 mathematics teaching, reasons for teaching mathematics in post-16 education, training needs, qualifications and professional development. The most common routes into mathematics teaching in Further Education colleges are from business, industry or self-employment, but transitions from teaching another subject in a college, or from teaching mathematics in school, are also common. These variations indicate a need for differentiated initial training and individualised professional development plans. The findings also suggests some short-term stability in the mathematics teacher workforce, but less long-term certainty about whether future supply will match demand without an effective intervention to attract new mathematics teachers into Further Education colleges.

The full report is available at https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/crme/documents/mifec/interim-report.pdf

Future bulletins

We hope that you are enjoying the regular ALM Bulletin. If you have news from your part of the world that may be of interest to our international community then please do get in touch with Diane Dalby diane.dalby@nottingham.ac.uk or send her a short draft item for the next bulletin by May 1st.

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