Our latest working learner reports “Who Does Work Work For? Understanding Equity in Working Learner College and Career Success” and “Equity in Working and Learning among U.S. Adults: Are There Differences in Opportunities, Supports, and Returns?” add to a broadening body of in-depth research on the unique group of people called working learners. A literature review commissioned by the former ACT Foundation and compiled by Public Agenda, summarizes and highlights key findings on working learner research published in peer-reviewed journals and trade publications through 2016. The literature review provides an overview of working learner research on topics from realities for working learners, working and learning in high school, and academic outcomes, to other topics relevant to working learners such as credential/licensing requirements, working and learning in college, and academic outcomes for working learners.
Opportunities for Future Research on Working Learners
The existing research on working learners covers a vast range of topics. But, the literature review also uncovers a void in the research. Filling this void could give us a better understanding of working learners and help education leaders, advocates, and policymakers better support them. First, the literature review points out that we still know very little about how social factors intersect with students. Much of the existing research on working learners is cross-sectional rather than longitudinal research, which would give us a better understanding of the long-term impacts of working and learning. Finally, there is very limited research focusing on 14- and 15-year-olds—an age where many students first begin working. By following a cohort of students over a period of six years and specifically focusing on education and workforce outcomes of low-income working learners compared to working learners not from low-income backgrounds, “Who Does Work Work For? Understanding Equity in Working Learner College and Career Success” begins to fill in a few of these gaps.