Building on Foundations for Success: Guidelines for Improving Adult Mathematics Instruction


Lynda Ginsburg
Mary Jane Schmitt
Myrna Manly
Ruth Sugar
Diane Gardner
Donna Fowler
Kathy Chernu
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Rutgers University
University of Tennessee
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type

The report, Building on Foundations for Success: Guidelines for Improving Adult Mathematics Instruction, came as the result of the recognition of the paucity of available research on adult numeracy instruction. The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) initiated the Strengthening America’s Competitiveness through Math Instruction project. This project sought to determine: 1) what to teach in adult numeracy, 2) how to teach it, and 3) how to teach teachers to teach it. OVAE contracted with MPR Associates, Inc. and its partners at Rutgers University, the University of Tennessee, and TERC to analyze the national Mathematics Advisory Panel’s report, Foundations for Success: The National Mathematics Advisory panel Final Report to see if any of its findings or recommendations could apply to mathematics instruction for adults. This analysis was guided by subject matter experts in the fields of mathematics education and mathematical cognition and learning, to determine its applicability to adult education. This analysis along with a review of research on adult education, adult mathematics instruction, numeracy education, and other relevant materials served as the foundation for the guidelines report. These guidelines reflect adult’s goals in seeking basic skills instruction including: managing daily life, preparing for the General Educational Development (GED) test, seeking or advancing in employment, and pursuing advanced education and training. They serve as a blueprint not only for current work, but also as a potential guide for additional research to better understand how mathematics instruction can best be provided for different populations of adults pursuing diverse goals.

Benefits and Uses

This resource is designed to serve as a blueprint for future work by policymakers, administrators, and researchers in the field of adult education. The guidelines outline the mathematics content that adults need to know, strategies for teaching adults this content, and the preparation of adult education instructors who teach mathematics.

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