Literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills of adults with disabilities in STEM fields

Jon Kirksey, Kristin Mansell, Teresa Lansford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To aid in the development of a globally competitive workforce, federal policymakers have expressed the priority of preparing students and adults with disabilities to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Yet, no research has examined the extent to which information-processing, literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills in technologically rich environments may associate with having a STEM degree for various disability populations. This study analyzed the United States nationally representative data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) to examine associations between adult skills and having a STEM degree for people with and without disabilities. No direct associations were found between adult skills and having a STEM degree for people with learning disabilities or for people without disabilities. These groups’ information processing, literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills were not determining factors in STEM degree attainment. However, findings suggest a significant association between problem-solving skills and having a STEM degree for people with visual and/or hearing impairments. Policy implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-453
Number of pages27
JournalPolicy Futures in Education
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • adult learning
  • Disabilities
  • policy
  • postsecondary
  • special education
  • stem

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