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: March 2021

As you can see from this edition of the bulletin, despite us all living restricted lives at present, there is a lot happening in the world of adults learning mathematics. This bulletin includes a section about the latest events in the successful ALM virtual seminar series, as well as the upcoming final session Building a Common European Numeracy Framework (CENF). Included in this bulletin is also more information about the next conference, ALM 28. This conference will be a virtual event, hosted by the University of Hamburg, so we encourage you all, researchers and practitioners, to participate in the conference and join in with the interesting ideas to be discussed.

Further information on conferences to note in your diaries are CERME 12 and ICME 14. This year the Pre CERME 12 congress was hosted virtually by University College London. The Adults Mathematics Education group is an important voice in this conference, raising the profile of our work with adults in the many and varied contexts and cultures in which numeracy is taught. The working group includes ALM and non-ALM members and is always welcoming so do consider joining in next year.

This edition also includes an article from two of the hosts for the ALM 28 conference, discussing a new book exploring alternative views on value of large data sets such as PIAAC.

Lastly, but very importantly for members based in England, there is a report on a new project starting in September for teachers in Further Education colleges focused on GCSE level mathematics.

On behalf of all of the ALM Trustees I wish you all good health and interesting reading.

Beth Kelly
Chair of ALM trustees

ALM Virtual Seminar Series

In February we enjoyed virtual seminars by Peter Liljedahl (Vancouver, Canada) who addressed the issue of Numeracy vs. Numberacy and Marta Civil (Arizona, USA) who shared her experiences of working with immigrant adults in a session entitled We also think and solve problems: Mathematical conversations with immigrant adults. You can access recordings of these seminars and other previous seminars on our YouTube Channel. If you were not able to join us at any of the seminars then please do take the opportunity to catch up with these events and benefit from the insight of some highly experienced speakers.

Our highly successful 2020-2021 ALM virtual seminar series will conclude this month with a seminar by Kees Hoogland (The Netherlands) and Javier Díez-Palomar (Spain) on March 18th entitled Building a Common European Numeracy Framework (CENF). The seminar will focus on the first results of a European project to acknowledge fully the multifaceted nature of numerate behaviour of adults and capture this in a common framework. Alongside the framework, online professional development modules are being developed for teachers and volunteers in adult numeracy education. This project is supported by the European Union but will be of interest to anyone in numeracy education worldwide.

You can find more information about this seminar and book a place for this event, free of charge, on the ALM website at

ALM 28 Hamburg

This year you are all welcome to the 28th ALM conference, which will be virtual and hosted by the University of Hamburg. The conference will run from 5th – 7th July 2021 with the title of Numeracy and Vulnerability. The main theme of the conference will be the link between adults’ numeracy and their individual and/or societal vulnerability. Specific topics of the conference will be:
  • The general relationship between numeracy and vulnerability (keynote by Anke Grotlüschen);
  • current and future numeracy challenges related to digitalisation and/or climate change;
  • financial numeracy; (keynotes invited, to be confirmed)
  • the international reproduction of vulnerability in numeracy assessments (keynote by Gelsa Knijnik).
We welcome a wide range of contributions relating to the issues of Numeracy and Vulnerability as well as further explorations into their relation. These could include links between numerical competences and practices, or possible disadvantages in the context of finance and consumption, work and family, health (e.g. context Covid 19) or digitalisation. Also of interest are contributions on educational needs and educational policy frameworks that become visible in the context of numeracy and vulnerability.

The deadline for session proposals (250 words) has been extended to April 8th, 2021 to give you more time to submit a contribution. Abstracts (one or more) for different forms and lengths of presentation will be welcomed, for example:
  • short presentation (30min; including time to discuss questions);
  • long presentation (45min; including time to discuss questions);
  • workshop (90min; to present new methods or to discuss an issue);
  • poster presentation.
For further information about abstracts and to make a submission, please follow this link: You can register for the conference here

We are looking forward to your contributions and ideas and to seeing you at the conference. If you have further questions, you can find more information on the ALM28-website ( which we will update regularly or contact Lisanne Heilmann (

There is a small fee attached to the conference but ALM aims to be inclusive and so provides financial support to practitioners and researchers from institutions involved in Adults Learning Mathematics with limited resources to take part in conferences. For more information please go to

CERME12 conference

The congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education is a large conference, typically attended by over 1000 researchers from all over the world. CERME 12 has now been planned as a live event for 2nd - 6th February 2022 and will take place in Bolzano, Italy. The conference offers a great opportunity for ALM members and those working in the field of adults learning mathematics to share ideas and experiences.

At the conference there will be a relatively new Thematic Workgroup on Adult Mathematics Education. This is a very welcoming group and has previously received research papers from various international and theoretical perspectives concerning adult learning of mathematics. Contributions of different types (e.g. research results, policy developments, practitioners’ reflections) are welcomed on a wide range of related topics, including mathematics for citizenship, mathematics in and for work, mathematics and societal effects, or teaching and learning mathematics with diverse groups of adult learners in various contexts. Recent themes have also included the relationship between literacy, numeracy, technology and citizenship, to empower adults in modern times.

This conference is a chance to meet and share ideas with a wide range of people with interests in mathematics education across a whole range of scenarios. The congress is very inclusive and provides personal support for early career researchers. For more information on deadlines and how to join see


This is another very large international congress of researchers and practitioners that normally takes place every four years. Last year, the event scheduled for July 2020 in Shanghai, China was postponed due to Covid. This event will now be held 11-18th July 2021 and it will be possible to attend either in person or online. There are over 50 Topic Study Groups for this conference so, although there is no group specifically for adults learning mathematics, it is likely that ALM members will find a group of interest. Further details of the conference can be found at including the deadline for submitting any new or revised papers (March 1st) as well as guidance on how to submit a paper and how to register.

Between PIAAC and the New Literacy Studies: What adult education can learn from large-scale assessments without adopting the neo-liberal paradigm

While large-scale assessments on literacy and numeracy are often criticised for their neo-liberal base assumptions, we (Anke Grotlüschen and Lisanne Heilmann) have assembled eleven quantitative studies that are based on large literacy (and numeracy) assessments but present alternative and subversive interpretations under the title of “Between PIAAC and New Literacy Studies”.

We acknowledge that studies such as PIAAC are often designed, financed and implemented on the basis of neo-liberal worldviews. Nevertheless, we would like to use the articles that are presented to show the various ways in which adult and continuing education can benefit and learn from the knowledge that they generate. In PIAAC, for example, there are huge differences between the surveyed variables and the theoretical frameworks on literacies and literacy practices that the New Literacy Studies (NLS) have brought out. This book features eleven articles, which – with the NLS’s theoretical considerations and points of criticism in mind – find new and alternative evaluations and interpretations of the data. Not only can they show effects of marginalization on a large scale, but the data can also provide information about mechanisms of power in relation to literacy and basic competencies.

The book is open access and can be downloaded here:

If you want to review the book for a journal, free print copies are available.

Centres for Excellence in Maths programme (UK)

This item is only relevant to teachers in Further Education colleges in England but the project partners would be grateful if readers would forward this invitation to any personal contacts who would be eligible to take part.

From September 2021, the Centres for Excellence in Maths (CfEM) programme, funded by the Department for Education in England, will include an extensive research project to explore teaching for Mastery in Further Education colleges. This project provides a rare opportunity for FE mathematics teachers to contribute to a large-scale research study of approaches that aim to improve students’ understanding of concepts underpinning GCSE mathematics. Following the development of teaching for Mastery in primary and secondary education, this is the first large scale project to develop and implement an approach adapted to the FE context.

The project partners are currently inviting GCSE mathematics teachers in England’s FE colleges to take part in this project. Teachers wishing to participate should be teaching GCSE mathematics classes for 16-19 year olds in the academic year 2021/22 for at least part of their timetable and their college must be part of a CfEM network. The project partners are encouraging teachers from colleges that are not already part of a CfEM network to get involved, although they will need their college to join a network before they can be accepted.

You can find further details about how to get involved on the CfEM website (

ALM Membership

The work of ALM relies heavily on the commitment and energy of our members. We would be grateful if members would remember to renew their membership if they have not already done so for 2021. We would also encourage any readers of the bulletin who are not yet members to consider joining our international community and adding their support to the work of ALM. The link for renewal or new membership is

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 by May 1st 2021.

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