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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe

Achieving effective adult learning policies - Key success factors

A systematic review of research evidence has identified “key success factors” in achieving effective adult learning policy. These are groups of policy actions which evidence has proven to be effective in improving participation rates in adult learning, improving the levels of skills and competences and the overall level of quality.

Each of the key success factors identified is made up of a group of individual policy actions, “building blocks for success”. These are individual policy actions for which evidence exists to show their effectiveness in achieving adult learning policy.

The framework reflects the three levels at which evidence and data were analysed:

  • The overall success factors that have been identified in the evidence as being critical to deliver effective adult learning;
  • The different system-level indicators and outcomes that can be associated with participation in learning, for different beneficiary groups, including the learner, employers and the community; and
  • The “building blocks for success” – the policy actions that lead directly to an increase in participation in learning or impact on the outcomes arising from that as well as those that contribute to the journey towards achieving these.

Click on each building block to see a full description.

Standards of Evidence

The list below describes the standards broadly set for the evidence reviewed.
Each building block has a star rating according to the standards of evidence underpinning it.

  • 5 stars - Studies which have drawn conclusions from meta- reviews of robust evaluations
  • 4 stars - Evaluation studies with counterfactual quantitative evidence of a significant impact
  • 3 stars - Studies which measure change before and after the policy action, controlling for other factors and which have large samples for robust statistical analysis
  • 2 stars - Research studies which are based on sufficiently in depth case studies to allow robust qualitative assessments
  • 1 star - Small scale studies dependent on qualitative data which have not been collected systematically