Along side our partners at NBSPRN and the New Brunswick Post-Secondary Education Training and Labour (PETL) we announce the launch of the Adult Literacy Funding Program in New Brunswick. The new targeted research opportunity, focuses on barriers to Adult Literacy in N.B. This unique program will directly support researchers working on this challenge and provide funding to assist with the coordination of their work and implementation of the results. The Adult Literacy Funding Program is funded by New Brunswick Post-Secondary Education Training and Labour (PETL), providing $181,875 to NBSPRN, with $81,875 used to hire resources to coordinate the projects and implement results as well as a $100,000 non-repayable research grant from NBIF.

What is Literacy? 

Literacy is often defined as the ability to engage in language to acquire, interpret develop, understand, and communicate meaning in all aspects of life. Literacy represents ability in the comprehension and application of language, wherein language is a shared communication. Within this broad conceptualization of literacy, reading and writing remain of fundamental importance as much of codified learning is premised on an ability to read and write. Reading and writing are literacy skills in their own right as well as building-blocks to other distinct literacy skills, hence the importance of reading and writing within literacy training.

The Government of New Brunswick and a varied network of community organizations and post-secondary education institutions have been active in adult literacy training for decades. Despite such efforts, the adult literacy rate in New Brunswick remains stagnant below the national average with nearly 50% of adults in the province not achieving functional literacy.

Barriers to Literacy Training

In this setting, it is evident that barriers to adult literacy training exist. What is less evident, however, is the nature of these barriers and how to overcome them. To address this situation, we are conducting a broad-reaching research challenge addressing various elements of barriers to adult literacy training.

The objective is to identify leading barriers to adult literacy training in New Brunswick and to provide further context and understanding about these barriers. At this stage, the focus remains on identifying and understanding. Research projects are not expected to provide fully developed solutions to overcoming barriers, however informed discussions of potential options (likely requiring further research) to do so are helpful and appreciated.

Distinct research projects should explore one or more of the following themes. Samples of topics of inquiry are provided for each theme in efforts to provide context—These are suggested examples only.

Complete fund description available here.

Applications open June 28th and close July 30th

  • • No leverage required;
  • • Please note that all funds (without exception) must be utilized by March 31, 2022 with reporting due by May 1, 2022.
  • • It is understood that these are tight timelines; however, this is the nature of the funding agreement with PETL.
  • • We will award three to five distinct and iterative research projects.

Each research project may apply for up to $20,000 in support of direct research expenses, including personnel.

Theme 1: Content and Pedagogy
This research theme relates to what is being taught and how it is being taught within adult literacy training programs.

  • • To what degree is training content informed by current research?• To what degree are teaching methods informed by current research?
  • • How much variety in content and/or pedagogy is there within and between adult literacy training programs in N.B.?
  • • Are there examples of ‘best practices’ from outside N.B. which could inform developments within the province moving forward?

Theme 2: Accessibility and Engagement
This research theme relates to how individuals access adult literacy training in New Brunswick.

  • • Are individuals who could benefit from literacy training aware that they could benefit from such training? Are they aware that such training is available?
  • • If someone is operating at the lowest level of literacy, how do they become informed of potential adult literacy training programs.
  • • If aware, can individuals easily access training programs? Are any diagnostic tests, fees, wait lists, or so on, required prior to participation? What is the process for an individual who wants assistance in literacy training to receiving such assistance? Is this process similar across N.B. and across all programs?
  • • If adult literacy training programs involve a degree of technological interaction, is support provided for such within the training program or is this considered an extraneous element to be addressed by each potential participant themselves? What degree of adult literacy training is delivered through internet-based activities and how does internet connectivity throughout N.B. affect this?
  • • Can technology be applied to advance adult literacy training in N.B.—if so, how? Are there examples of this in other jurisdictions to be studied and potentially replicated?
  • • Are there any personal or cultural barriers to engagement? How widely are such elements shared throughout NB? How could these be addressed?

Theme 3: Programs and Networks
This research theme relates to how adult literacy training programs are developed, operated, and governed in New Brunswick.

  • • How much of adult literacy training in N.B. is delivered by government programs, government-funded programs, community organizations, for-profit training and education institutions, and non-profit training and education institutions? Are these programs coordinated to provide a provincial approach to adult literacy training? If so, how is such coordination managed?
  • • How do adult literacy training programs in N.B. relate to literacy training programs more generally (i.e., typically those with a focus on youth)?
  • • How are adult literacy programs funded and at what time horizons?
  • • How are adult literacy programs monitored, evaluated, and adapted? Is this relatively equally conducted across all programs in N.B.?
  • • Are there any adult literacy training programs or networks in N.B. demonstrating above average success metrics? What is different about these programs, and could it be replicated more broadly, and how?

Assessment Criteria:

  1. The applicant demonstrates that they are conscious of the timeframe and explains how they will accomplish the work within those parameters.
  2. The applicant’s project is sufficiently relevant to the issues and subject matter described in the call.
  3. The applicants project and deliverables will offer a degree of novel insight into this issue they are investigating, within the New Brunswick experience.
  4. The applicant has demonstrated that they have sufficient expertise relevant to the call to undertake the proposed project.
  5. The application is well written, succinct and presents the necessary information required to assess it.

Please note that all funds (without exception) must be utilized by March 31, 2022 with reporting due by May 1, 2022.

It is understood that these are tight timelines; however this is the nature of the funding agreement with PETL.