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 November 2019

Welcome to the November ALM Bulletin. The last few months have seen substantial work by ALM members and trustees, much of which goes largely unnoticed but is important to the smooth running of the organisation. Those responsible for ALM 26 in Lund, Sweden, are busy updating the ALM website to ensure abstracts and PowerPoint presentations from the contributors are made available. They are also working hard on finalising long abstracts for inclusion in the ALM 26 conference proceedings. If you were a presenter at ALM 26 and have any questions about what you should submit and when, please do contact us.

The editorial team for the International ALM Journal have continued to edit and review articles already submitted, whilst also encouraging new contributions of papers related to research findings or classroom experiences. For more information and guidance on preparing an article please see You can read a summary of this edition later in the bulletin and view the latest volumes at

Meanwhile another group of members and supporters in Canada are in the early stages of preparing for our 27th ALM conference which will be held Vancouver from July 6th to 9th, 2020. The theme of this conference is Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: Adults learning mathematics in a changing world. Further information can be found on the ALM website at We look forward to welcoming colleagues from previous conferences as well as new and potential members who will share their research findings, teaching experiences or resources with us.

Dr. Beth Kelly
Chair of ALM

ALM representatives

ALM can only be as active as the members who are able to volunteer their time and expertise. This is why it is important to grow our membership as much as possible. We are a small organisation, but with a broad international reach, and it would help to increase our numbers. We are pleased that in some countries we have a local representative, so that our ALM membership can connect with local and national organisations. Currently, our regional representatives are as follows.

AUSTRALIA : Dr. Linda Galligan, University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

AUSTRIA and GERMANY: Prof. Dr. Jurgen Maasz, University of Linz, Austria.

CANADA: Judy Larsen, University of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

DENMARK: Dr. Lena Lindenskov, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark.

NETHERLANDS and BELGIUM: Dr. Kees Hoogland, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, The Netherlands.

NEW ZEALAND: Phil Kane, University of Auckland, Waipu, New Zealand.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Dr Terry Maguire, National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, Dublin 2, Ireland.

SWEDEN: Charlotte Arkenback-Sundstrom, Gothenburg University, Sweden Linda Jarlskog, VIS, Vuxenutbildning i Samverkan, Sweden.

SWITZERLAND: Dr. Sonja Beeli, Pädagogische Hochschule Bern, Switzerland.

UNITED KINGDOM: Dr. Diane Dalby, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.

USA: Dr. Katherine Safford-Ramus, Saint Peter’s University, Kennedy Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07306, USA.

You are very welcome to contact your regional representative if you would like to become more active in ALM. If you are resident in a country where we do not currently have a regional representative please do consider becoming one.

Call for Applications for Hosting ALM 28

Adults Learning Mathematics (ALM) has been successful in gathering an increasing number of world-wide researchers to discuss the wide range of ways adults learn mathematics. Plans are well underway for the ALM 27 in Vancouver, Canada in July 2020 but we now need to start planning for 2021. The ALM Board of Trustees are looking for members of ALM or research groups willing to do an important service to the functioning of the ALM community by applying to host the next conference. Please do not hesitate to email, Beth Kelly (Chair) at if you have any questions about what is required in terms of planning or would like to express an interest in hosting the conference.

ALM Journal

Adults Learning Mathematics: An International Journal - Issue 14(1) is now available at
This most recent issue of the ALM Journal contains four articles; two were presented at ALM-25 in London, and two were submitted independently. The articles exemplify the wide range of topics and contexts that are of interest to the adult mathematics education community. The topics involve specific mathematical ideas such as proportional reasoning, pedagogical matters such as the use of self-study strategies, and broader concerns such as prior experiences and feelings towards mathematics. The articles focus on individuals taking part in prison education, adults (and young people) returning to learning in community settings and those studying mathematics as a service subject in university.

Linda Ahl analyses a test designed to detect students’ prior understanding of proportional reasoning, using results of a survey involving 32 adults from a Swedish prison education program. Both her conceptual analysis and empirical work make a valuable contribution to our knowledge of how adults use proportional reasoning in different contexts.

Pragati Jain and Merran Rogers discuss the development of a numeracy course for those needing preparation for entry to university-level education. The semester-long Academic Numeracy unit focuses on the critical thinking that is required for making sense of mathematical information at university and in everyday life, e.g. in investigations of topics such as climate change and mandatory bike helmet legislation. They describe the ways non-traditional learners, with diverse needs and skills, are provided with suitable self-study resources.

Maria Ryan, Olivia Fitzmaurice and Patrick Johnson report on the ways that 20 adult learners described their experiences with mathematics across their life spans while engaged in pre-tertiary mathematics courses at an Irish University. The relationships between personal themes, demographic characteristics and mathematics anxiety scores are explored. They note the importance to the adult learner of talking about these past experiences in order to heal the “scars left behind” and be ready to succeed.

Gail FitzSimons provides a wide-ranging overview of issues in adult mathematics education, in a paper based on her Plenary Address to the ALM-25 conference in London in 2018. She highlights the crucial importance of developing a depth of mathematical knowledge / understanding, as contrasted with the ‘learning outcomes’ approach of many contemporary courses. She argues that, by 2020, the top three skills needed by workers will be: complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. She offers many examples from doing mathematics at work (paid and unpaid) and draws on Basil Bernstein’s advocacy of three ‘pedagogic rights’ which enable democracy to function: enhancement, inclusion and participation.

We hope you will find the articles in the current issue interesting and thought-provoking, and we encourage you to feed back your impressions. Please also consider contributing your articles to the Journal, and look for an announcement of a new ‘Practitioners’ Section’ in 2020.

Jeff Evans
ALM trustee, member of ALM journal editorial team.

ALM Membership

This is a gentle reminder to members that their membership fee for 2020 will fall due on 1st January 2020. You already know that we rely or your contributions to support the organisation’s ambitions and we greatly appreciate your continuing membership. There has been some confusion about the perception of a link between membership fees and conference fees. This is due mainly to previous ALM practice of enrolling conference attendees as members of ALM by default. Of course, these days such a practice could be viewed as unfair use of data collected for a different purpose and prohibited under EU privacy regulations.

The Trustees have discussed this and wish to recommend that membership fee and conference fee should be separate transactions. In future, your membership of ALM is accepted as a tangible token of your support for the organisation’s work – whether you attend a conference or not. Being a member is valuable in that it means you are facilitating and enabling the opportunity for adults to learn mathematics in a way that is informed by research and led by best practice. Hence a person need not be a member to attend a conference, but we will promote membership actively among conference attendees both during and after the annual conference. We also ask ALM members to promote our activities among their colleagues with a view to increasing the membership roll.
Furthermore, we encourage ALM members to become proactive in their local discourse in so far as it impinges on matters mathematical and their role in society, not least by challenging public utterances of the ‘I’m useless at maths’ kind.

We intend to place these recommendations before the next AGM for ratification. In the meantime, may we wish you the merriest of Christmases to whatever extent that is compatible with your culture. May we all reflect on 2019 with fondness and anticipate 2020 with excitement, with the expectation of prosperity, enlightenment and mathematics learning for all.

John Keogh
ALM trustee and membership secretary.

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 or send her a short draft item for the next bulletin.

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