BCS70 – Age 34 – Basic Skills (Literacy and Numeracy Assessments)

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The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 34 sweep using the Basic Skills’ (Literacy and Numeracy Assessments) measure.

Details on this measure and the data collected from the CMs are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Adult basic literacy and numeracy
Measures:(Functional) literacy and numeracy assessment.
CHC:NA
Administrative method:CAPI and paper
Procedure:The interviewer showed the cohort member a visual stimulus on a specified show card, for example a map or a page from the Yellow Pages, and then asked a question. When the cohort member gave their answer, the interviewer coded it as "Correct" or "Incorrect" (including "Don't Know" responses). For two items that were considered challenging for interviewers to code, there was a third option "Interviewer cannot code" which allowed interviewers to record the cohort members verbatim response. Interviewers used this code if they were unsure whether the cohort member's response was correct or incorrect. These verbatim responses were coded by the CLS research team.
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/BCS-2004-Follow-up-CAPI-Questionnaire.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:13 items, 7 literacy and 6 numeracy; 1 point for correct answer
Item-level variable(s):litor01a litor01b litor02a litor02b litor03a litor03b litor03c
numor01a numor01b numor02a numor03a numor04a numor04b
Total score/derived variable(s):litort (sum of literacy)
numort (sum of numeracy)
Descriptives:litort (raw score)numscore (raw score)
N9,5219,510
Range0 - 70 - 6
Mean6.314.8
SD1.061.37
(click image to enlarge)
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:BCS70 – Age 21 – Literacy and Numeracy Assessments
NCDS – Age 37 – Basic Literacy and Numeracy Skills*
*BCS devised to be comparable with NCDS
Source:Derived from BCS70 (age 21) survey.
Technical resources:Parsons, S. (2012). User guide to accompany the 1970 British Cohort Study 2004 adult literacy and numeracy assessment data. CLS, working paper.
For further details on the design of the new assessment and initial results see: Parsons, S. and Bynner, J. (2005). Measuring Basic Skills for Longitudinal Study: The design and development of instruments for use with cohort members in the age 34 follow-up in the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70). London: National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy.
Reference examples:Bynner, J. & Parsons, S. (2005). New Light on Literacy and Numeracy. London: National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy.
Schoon, I., Parsons, S., Rush, R., & Law, J. (2010). Childhood language skills and adult literacy: A 29-year follow-up study. Pediatrics, 125(3), e459-e466.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.