Handling contemporary information sources

This is an exploratory study of what aspects are important for understanding contemporary information sources by people with limited basic skills. Information sources in our current society are increasingly multi-medial, digital and numerical and often presented in the form of tables, graphs, diagrams and infographics.


The primary objective of this research is to gain insight into what combination of numeracy and literacy is needed for understanding contemporary information resources.


The skills required can be summarized as:

  • Digital skills
  • Higher-order skills
  • Attitude
  • Processing information
  • Arithmetic knowledge, including relationships, conventions, computational strategies
  • Strategies for dealing with a problem or interpreting a situation


01 January 2022 - 15 September 2022


In addition to reading literature, people were interviewed and observed while using and interpreting contemporary information sources.


Being able to handle contemporary information well is important. From the report: Research shows that the group of people with limited basic skills acquire, on average, a lower annual salary, are more likely to be unemployed (L&S, 2019) and thus are more likely to fall into poverty over time (Windisch, 2015). The net missed income due to limited basic skills of this group is estimated at €572 million per year which amounts to about €575 per year for 16-65 year olds and about €138 per year for people older than 65 (PWC, 2018) (Boels et al., 2022, p.6, original in Dutch, translated by the first author). This report provides insight into what people with limited basic skills are up against. Limited basic skills are surrounded by much shame and are found among practical and theoretical educated people. It is important that attention be paid to these types of basic skills not only in MBO but also in HBO.

Collaboration with knowledge partners

This project was conducted together with Vincent Jonker and Monica Wijers of Utrecht University and Bart Kleine Deters of ECBO/CINOP on behalf of the Expertise Center for Basic Skills.

HU researchers involved in the research

  • Kees Hoogland
    • Professor
    • Research group: Mathematical and analytical competence of professionals
  • Lonneke Boels
    Lonneke Boels
    • Researcher
    • Research group: Mathematical and analytical competence of professionals