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 Bulletin: July 2023

Our recent conference in Limerick, ALM 30, proved to be a memorable event for many people as we renewed old friendships and developed new ones with those who share an interest in adult learning of mathematics. With representation from about ten countries, including places as Canada, Tasmania, Turkey, Sweden and Spain, it was a truly international gathering. We are extremely grateful to Niamh O’Meara and her wonderful team in Limerick for such efficient organisation of the conference and the warm Irish welcome that we received.

For myself it was a particularly memorable occasion since it was the beginning of a new role for me in ALM, that of Chair of the ALM Trustees. It may take some time to get accustomed to writing the introduction to this bulletin as the new Chair, rather than acting as editor but I am sure that the new co-editors, Lena Lindenskov and Linda Jarlskog will do an excellent job.

I would like to express my thanks to Beth for the considerable time and energy she has given to ALM as Chair over the last 4 years. Beth has led ALM through a time of global challenges and her leadership has enabled us to move forward with several new initiatives to strengthen the work of ALM, such as the virtual seminars. I hope that we can build on this foundation by continuing to adapt to a changing world and develop as an organisation.

In the next bulletin I hope to share more about future plans, but in this issue the focus is firmly on our successful and very enjoyable conference in Limerick.

Diane Dalby
Chair of ALM trustees

Reflections on ALM 30

Here are some short reflections from a few of those who attended ALM 30, each from a different country. We hope these give everyone a taste of the rich discussions that took place in Limerick and also a sense of the variety and yet the similarity of experiences within an ALM community that is dispersed across the world.

“The ALM30 conference was a three-day conference fully packed with inspiring keynotes, paper presentations, and workshops about adult education in mathematics and/or numeracy. In these three days I learned a lot about the many initiatives being undertaken by researchers, educators, and practitioners to strengthen the numeracy skills of adults in several places of the world.

One of the reasons why adult education in numeracy matters, as Merrilyn Goos, a keynote speaker explained, is active citizenship. Consider taking decisions that are in the interest of the society (for example the environmental sustainability) or decisions in the interest of your household (for example applying for a social assistance programme). Another intriguing example came from Javier Diez-Palomar who explained how critically assessing the price-increase of a slice of a pizza can disclose that the price-increase of the pizza-slice was disproportional to the price-increase of the ingredients that the pizza contained and that reading and understanding percentages can help assessing if the price is fair or not.

There were also presentations about contextualized course materials (such as the book by Andy Burazin and Miroslav Lovric) and teaching approaches in adult education. I much enjoyed Joy Zimmerman’s workshop on Cognitive Guided Instructions about how learners get the opportunity to use their intuition and number sense to solve a mathematical problem and to share different problem-solving strategies in class. Altogether the conference gave us the opportunity to learn new things, to share ideas and experiences, and to meet up with others in the field of math education. I have much appreciation for what everyone does. Keep it up!”

Tina Dulam (Research Group for the Mathematical and Analytical Ability of Professionals, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

“It was my first attendance in an ALM conference. The experience and expertise accumulated over the years in the field by the chairs, trustees and all the members were among the most important strengths of the conference. The fact that participants continue to study a subject which could be beneficial for the society and probably deserves more attention in the world is meaningful and admirable. As was discussed during the conference, the involvement of practitioners in addition to researchers combines what actually happens with theoretical results and is among the other positive elements.

It was a pleasure and a good opportunity for me to give information and share research results about the “Numeracy in Practice” Erasmus Project in which our institution is a partner. I would like to thank Kees Hoogland for his encouragement to participate in the conference, Niamh O’Meara and all other responsible people for the organisation, and committee members for the approval. Greetings to all the participants we met during the conference.”

Emre Bilgin (Tekirdag Province Directorate of National Education, Turkey)

“Rarely have I felt so instantly at-ease with a group of strangers. But these felt like ‘my people’. First I met Catherine Byrne and Tatiana Harrison, of the Maths in Prison sub group. We had plenty to talk about – and some of it was even work related! Here is a group of people working in some of the most geographically separated settings yet finding so many commonalities in our environments and ways of working.

The next people I encountered were at the welcome drinks – after we navigated that building! Everyone I met was so friendly and approachable, had interesting stories to tell, and was also interested in hearing mine. This trend continued throughout the conference, and I was struck by the mix of practitioners and researchers, all learning from each other. Although perhaps those are unnecessary and limiting categories, as we are all both researchers and practitioners.

I have pages of notes of things to follow up when I return to Australia and have a chance to catch my breath. I kept finding connections to my own practice, especially around the subject of maths anxiety. It seems a common theme that for adult learners, the influence of the teacher in creating a non-threatening learning environment is often more important than the content or methods of teaching.

I had many conversations about the differences and relationships between numeracy and maths, and what we teach and why. I have some thoughts still percolating about ‘messy’, open-ended problems versus using algorithms or drills, and the balance between ensuring a safe learning environment for anxious students and extending learners beyond their comfort zones. Social inclusion, building community and developing citizenship was a related theme that kept recurring. Clearly this is important for us all.

The last big takeaway for me was the importance of understanding learners’ mistakes and misconceptions as a starting point for our own learning as practitioners. All these matters I have been exploring, usually in isolation, in my own practice, so it was reassuring to find this community of learners and teachers all on the same track. Some of these conversations will continue well beyond the conference. I am very thankful to ALM for providing this forum, as it is abundantly clear that adults learning maths is a specialised area that deserves a home of its own, apart from school maths learning, and out of the umbrella of ‘literacy AND numeracy’.”

Sarah Howe (TasTAFE, Hobart, Tasmania)

“The ALM conference is always a special date on the calendar. It is a time to meet lovely friends, discover new places, to share common projects. It was my first time in Limerick, and the first thing that struck me when I got off the airport bus was that a Health Education associate professor offers to drive me with her sister to the Campus. Irish hospitality has only just begun. Niamh, Kathy, John, and the entire Irish team immediately made us feel welcome in these beautiful, evergreen lands!

The personal has nothing to envy the academic. Merrilyn Goos opened the conference with a magnificent inaugural lecture on numeracy and citizenship. The debate on aspects that make it difficult for adults to approach mathematics and what makes it easier guided the different sessions over the next two days.

I am happy to share special moments that I have been lucky enough to experience, such as seeing the surprise and tremendous satisfaction on the face of an adult teacher from Limerick when she met Catherine, another person who also works with adults like her, and also in Ireland. ‘I have always felt very alone. I didn't know any other teacher who worked with adults.’ This is the magic of events like this, and ALM itself, where we meet researchers, practitioners, and teachers, from all over the world - from afar but also up close - and we establish connections and relationships and share scientific evidence, which makes our community grow and become more and more solid. We are lucky to have places like the ALM conferences and have the privilege to participate in them to share and learn from our respective experiences. See you soon!”

Javi Diez-Palomar, University of Barcelona, Spain.

“I would like to express my appreciation to the organizers and hosts of ALM 30 conference in Limerick, Ireland. It was my first time attending the ALM conference. The event was a great opportunity for me to meet and connect with individuals and be a part intellectually stimulating discussion on current topics of research and practice related to adults learning mathematics. What a great experience!”

Izabela Mazur, Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia, Canada.
Five former ALM Chairs during a panel discussion at ALM30.
From left: Diana Coben, John O’Donoghue, Katherine Safford-Ramus, David Kaye and Beth Kelly.

ALM 30 Proceedings

Those who presented papers or led workshops at ALM 30 should have already received an email from Niamh about revising their abstracts and submitting them for publication in one of two ways.

Option 1: Conference Proceedings

Delegates are welcome to have their abstract included in the conference proceedings. These proceedings will be open access and made available through the ALM and EPISTEM websites. Abstracts need to be transferred to the template provided with Niamh’s email and may be revised or extended but should be submitted by September 6th 2023.

Option 2: Journal Article

It is hoped that we can publish a special issue of ALM International Journal on the conference theme Mathematics and Numeracy Theory and Practice in a Changing World. However, this will only be possible if we receive and accept over 6 articles relating to this theme. The journal is indexed by Scopus, ERIC and EBSCO. Papers should be between 6,000 and 9,000 words in length and adhere to the journal’s writing style. If you are interested in submitting a paper, please send an email to by July 21st 2023, so we can assess whether the special issue is viable.

Annual General Meeting

Our Annual General Meeting took place during ALM 30 in Limerick on July 4th. We will report on the main points of interest to members in the next bulletin, but meanwhile you are welcome to read the minutes on the ALM website.


The International Congress on Mathematics Education is a large international conference that takes place every four years. The next congress (ICME-15) will take place in Sydney, Australia in July 2024. Further details can be found at but it is worth noting that the deadline the submission of paper and poster proposals has been extended to September 15th 2023. If you have been inspired by ALM 30 then this gives you ample time over the summer to prepare a paper and plan your trip to Sydney.

A new article on the website

Read Lena Lindeskov's new article "Democracy revisited for adults learning mathematics" on our website. You can also access the article through the following link.

Future bulletins

We hope that you are enjoying reading the ALM bulletin. The editors would be delighted to have any contributions or ideas about future articles from ALM members. If you have news from your part of the world or other information that may be of interest to our international community then please do get in touch with Lena Lindeskov ( or Linda Jarlskog (

Privacy Policy

We do not send advertisements. We do not send data to third parties. Your membership data are stored offline. You can always ask to have your data removed permanently by sending a request to the membership secretary.
By subscribing to the ALM-bulletin or by joining ALM, you agree to our Privacy Policy
facebook twitter 
Email Marketing Powered by MailPoet