Using a wellbeing framework to recognise, value and enhance the broad range of outcomes for learners in adult literacy and numeracy programmes

Funding year: 
2 years
University of Waikato
Post school sector
Project start date: 
January 2017
Project end date: 
March 2019
Principal investigator(s): 
Jane Furness and Judy Hunter
Research team members: 
Bronwyn Yates, Peter Isaacs, Katrina Taupo,
Research partners: 
Literacy Aotearoa


Project description

In this project, researchers will work with tutors in adult literacy and numeracy (L/N) programmes. We will draw on an existing wellbeing framework to facilitate its use in classroom practice and extend its application in multicultural settings in order to make visible the links between wellbeing and L/N learning for diverse learner populations. An innovative combination of technologies and tools of teaching and learning will support success for twenty-first century learners.


The project aims to capture the broader outcomes that are important to learners in their lives, beyond the L/N skills routinely assessed as part of adult L/N programmes. The goal is to build on a framework developed for Māori adult L/N learners but not in widespread use. Locating the framework conceptually within a personal, relational and collective model of wellbeing, the project aims to provide opportunity for tutors and diverse learners to recognise, value and enhance broad wellbeing outcomes. The project seeks to achieve a meaningful and manageable process for using the framework within programmes. The project aims to answer the following questions:

  • How can a wellbeing framework be further developed and incorporated into adult L/N programmes in ways that engage tutors and learners in broad wellbeing outcomes, and that are meaningful and manageable for them?
  • What broad wellbeing outcomes can adult learners identify as a result of their engagement in L/N learning?
  • How does the use of a wellbeing framework help learners assume ownership of their continuing learning?

Why is this research important?

This project will fill the current gap in knowledge about the broad range of outcomes of adult L/N programmes that enhance wellbeing by capturing them in a robust and manageable way. It will present a more complete picture of the value of L/N programmes to learners, families, communities and society, and it will contribute to the recognition of learning outcomes that are important to people in their lives. It focuses on an adult learner population that is currently marginalised economically and socially. The project offers a new flexible approach to using digital technologies in adult education. Innovative in the moment, mastery of such technologies will encourage learners to continue their use in future learning.

What we plan to do

In Year 1 of the project the researchers will work with Literacy Aotearoa national leaders and tutors in two of its community-based programmes. The programmes in the study will be delivering L/N education through the Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC’s) Intensive Literacy and Numeracy and/or Adult and Community Education funding streams to up to 16 adult learners. The existing wellbeing framework Hei Ara Ako ki te Oranga (Hutchings et al., 2013) will be used collaboratively in a distinctive way. It will be graphically and conceptually located within a view of wellbeing with personal, relational and collective dimensions, allowing for diverse learner populations to identify their own meaningful outcomes. We will use photo elicitation, social network mapping and Facebook as the foundation of a dialogic system for illuminating and garnering outcomes information. We will also collect data through tutor and learner interviews, classroom observations, document review and a learner survey. Data will be analysed for how well the trial facilitates recognition, valuing and learner self-assessment of wellbeing outcomes and for the ease of using the project technologies and processes. Year 1 findings will inform refinements to the framework and its use. The refined framework will be trialled in Year 2 with the same tutors and one more at each of the same two sites.

Our partners

Our partner in this project is Literacy Aotearoa. A national organisation and the largest provider of TEC-funded L/N education for adults, Literacy Aotearoa has extensive experience in adult literacy education in New Zealand. Its 44 affiliated member organisations deliver L/N tuition to over 8,000 people, as individuals or in groups, in workplaces, homes and communities. A Kaupapa Māori organisation, Literacy Aotearoa has an explicit commitment to Māori learners within a broader commitment to all learners. Partnering occurs at two levels: with Literacy Aotearoa leaders and with


Dr Jane Furness                                                      Dr Judy Hunter

Contact details

Dr Jane Furness                                                     Dr Judy Hunter                              
07 856 2889 ext. 8498                                          07 866 2889 ext. 7712