An Examination of PIAAC Data for Unemployed Adults aged 45 to 74 (Phyllis A. Cummins, Miami University; Takashi Yamashita, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Anabelle Arbogast, Miami University)
This paper will focus on middle to older age groups (ages 45 to 74) who are either unemployed or not in the labor force (in comparison to those who are employed). The authors will examine their characteristics to gain a better understanding of health and economic well-being in relation to educational attainment, continuous learning behaviors (a.k.a. lifelong learning), and skill indicators including literacy, numeracy, and problem solving skills in the second half of life course, with additional consideration given to the roles skills and technology play in the context of employment status. The following research questions will be addressed:

  • Is there any relationship between health status, education, lifelong learning behaviors, and skill indicators including literacy, numeracy, and problem solving skills by employment status?

  • Is there any relationship between the timing of retirement, health status, education, lifelong learning behaviors, and skill indicators including literacy, numeracy, and problem solving skills?

  • Is there any difference in use of practical skills including communication technology, computer application, and reading/writing skills among individuals who are employed, unemployed, and not in the labor force?

  • How frequently do unemployed and not in the labor force adults participate in Adult Education and Training (AET) programs and what are the reasons for non-participation?

View full research paper ›


Numeracy Skills, Health Information-Seeking, and Preventative Health Behaviors among Middle to Older Aged Adults in the U.S. (Takashi Yamashita, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Anthony R. Bardo, University of Kentucky; and Darren Liu, Des Moines University)
This paper will analyze numeracy skills in the context of health information-seeking and preventative health behaviors to develop a detailed demographic and socioeconomic profile of middle to older aged adults (aged 45 to 74 years) and their numeracy skills using PIAAC data.  Using statistical models to estimate the impacts of numeracy skills on selected health information-seeking and preventative health behaviors, the authors will answer the following research questions:

  • Are there differences in numeracy skills across subgroups of middle to older aged adults by demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics?

  • Are numeracy skills associated with the sources from which middle to older aged adults seek health information?

  • Are numeracy skills among middle to older aged adults associated with their adherence to recommended preventative health behaviors?

View full research paper ›


Examining the Ways that Numeracy Skills and Soft Skills are Related to Occupational Status: The Case of U.S. Workers (Huacong Liu, University of Hamburg and Frank Fernandez, University of Houston)
This paper will use PIAAC data to  examine relationships between numeracy skills, soft skills and  occupational status among adults working in the United States. In the research literature, soft skills have also been called noncognitive skills, personality traits, socialization, and social skills. They are often contrasted with technical skills, which are necessary but not sufficient for workers who wish to move beyond entry-level jobs or who aspire to enter professional fields.  The authors will use measures of soft skills available in this dataset across following four elements: Readiness to Learn, Planning, Influence, and Task Discretion. The authors will answer the question:

  • After controlling for cognitive ability as measured by PIAAC numeracy skills, are soft skills significantly correlated with workers’ occupational status?

View full research paper ›


Incarcerated Adults with Low Skills: Findings from the 2014 PIAAC Prison Study (Margaret Patterson, Research Allies for Lifelong Learning)

Incarcerated men and women in state and federal prisons face multiple educational and economic challenges. Despite widespread availability of correctional education programs in prisons, only a small proportion of prisoners completes them. Employing quantitative data from the PIAAC Prison Study (2014), this paper investigates the demographic and background characteristics and assessed skill levels of incarcerated adults with less than high school education (LHS) attainment. It considers how characteristics and assessed skill levels differ from the general population of LHS Non-learners and by gender and discusses the role of current and future learning in the lives of incarcerated adults with low skills. Findings include educational, health-related, and disabilities-related vulnerabilities that may be heightened in already-stressed, impoverished communities. Implications for policy makers, re-entry services, and corrections educators are discussed, and areas of future research to support LHS incarcerated populations are suggested.

View full research paper ›


Bringing Reading Instruction to Life Using PIAAC Tools: Supplement to the Introductory Guide (Amy Trawick, Center for Adult Learning Leadership and Advancement)
This report is designed to complement the report Using the PIAAC Literacy Framework to Guide Instruction: An Introduction for Adult Educators, which promoted a contextualized approach to teaching reading in adult literacy/education programs. The purpose of this supplement is threefold: to flesh out the ideas introduced in the original report, to provide resources that will help make those ideas more accessible to teachers, and to answer frequently asked questions related to the kind of curriculum design advocated in the Guide. 

View full paper ›