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Ralf St. Clair

Professor, Chair

ralf [dot] stclair [at] mcgill [dot] ca (E-mail) 
Phone: 514-398-4525

Room 247, Education Building

Areas of interest

  • Adult Education
  • Language and literacy
  • Assessment
  • Curriculum and pedagogy
  • Research and methods
  • Higher education

Description of Research/Teaching

I have been involved in education of one type or another for my entire adult life (and before that in a different capacity!). I started off as a community organiser in Scotland in the early 1980s, and have moved into more formal forms of adult education and then finally into higher education. At each stage in this progression I have been lucky enough to have opportunities to conduct research on the work I was doing. A number of key areas have emerged over time. I have done considerable work in literacy education for adults, in the political economy of research (sort of the mirror image of research management) and in school to college or work transitions.

My teaching has covered a number of areas, but I am particularly interested in helping educators to create critical perspectives upon their work. I believe that this leads to better and more profound education for all involved-- and makes the role of educator a great deal more interesting!

Selected Publications


St.Clair, R. (2011) Writing ourselves into being: A review of the Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 1987-2009. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 23 (2).

St.Clair, R. & Benjamin, A.  (2011) Performing Desires: The dilemma of aspirations and educational attainment. British Educational Research Journal, 37(3), 501-517.

St.Clair, R., Tett, L. &  Maclachlan, K. (2009) Educational entrepreneurs? Practitioner-led action research and the formation of the professional adult literacy instructor. Studies in the Education of Adults, 41(2), 175-192.

St.Clair, R.   (2008) Terra incognita: How research can help to chart unexplored terrain in adult literacy. International Review of Education, 54(5), 565-579.

St.Clair, R    (2008)  Beyond the barriers: Understanding participation decisions among under-represented groups. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 56(1).

St.Clair, R.   (2008) Reading, writing and relationships: Human and social capital in family literacy programmes. Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal, 2(2).


St.Clair, R.  (2010) Why literacy matters: Understanding the outcomes of literacy education for adults. National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education. (Single Authored Book). ISBN: 978-86201-450-3

St.Clair, R. (Ed.) (2009) Educational science: Critical Perspectives. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam. ISBN: 978-90-8790-844-7

Research Reports

St.Clair, R. & Uflewska, K. (2011) Evaluation of the Leonardo Project “Berufs- und Arbeitsnahe Grundbildungskonzepte und –tools für Gruppen mit besonderen Schwierigkeiten auf dem Arbeitsmarkt.” Dortmund: BBB and European Commission.

St.Clair, R., Kintrea, K. & Houston, M. (2011) Findings. Shaping Educational Attitudes and Aspirations: The Influence of Parents, Place and Poverty. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

St.Clair, R., Maclachlan, K.M. & Tett, L. (2010) Scottish survey of adult literacies 2009: Report of findings. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Education and Lifelong Learning Research.