Using structural equation modeling to examine the relationships between environmental characteristics, intrapersonal characteristics, and adult numeracy achievement.


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Quantitative literacy or numeracy skills are increasingly important at every level in a knowledge-based society. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between numeracy achievement, environmental and intrapersonal characteristics. Although the sample for this study included 5,862 U.S. adults (aged 16-65) from the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), the results were weighted to represent the population. According to descriptive statistics, significant differences were found for multiple variables. The top 10% were more likely to have a foreign-born father, higher levels of parent education, more books in their childhood home, more years of formal schooling, be employed, and earn more money. Individuals with the following characteristics were more likely to be in the high numeracy group: male, native-English speaking, White, age 25 to 34, very good to excellent health, and no learning disability. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) were conducted on a new Adult Numeracy Achievement Model. The second-order Intrapersonal factor predicted numeracy achievement in the top 10%; however, the second-order Environmental factor did not. Intrapersonal characteristics with small indirect effects on numeracy achievement included gender, age, race, native language, learning disability, health, and participation in ongoing training or education outside of a degree program. Findings were used to support suggestions for future methodological and future numeracy research. Implications for parents, adults, educators, and policymakers are suggested which include greater emphasis on mathematical learning, understanding, and application at all levels including school, home, and workplace.



PIAAC. Quantitative literacy. numeracy achievement. Educational psychology.