Prepare graduates with numeracy skills for 21st century workplaces

Workers perform sophisticated functions which require them to be confident to use mathematical skills in problem-solving situations and to see the consequences of the mathematics related procedures.” 

(2014. p. 2 Identifying and supporting quantitative skills in 21st century workers )

Workers need to interpret, use, and report mathematical information within most industries and most workplace roles. The change in workplace practice is generating new numeracy demands. To be ready for the 21st century workplace graduates require strong foundation skills – including strong numeracy skills.

This post includes four (4) key messages about numeracy and developing numeracy skills. The first comes from the AIGroup/AAMT report Identifying and supporting quantitative skills in 21st century workers. Followed by a quick reminder about what numeracy involves,  some numeracy-based resources , and numeracy-centred questions to identify the learners’ thinking . Look out for:

  1. Check – what must graduates be aware of, equipped with, and ready to do?
  2. Check your understanding of what numeracy involves
  3. Check out 4 resources that introduce numeracy concepts
  4. Check learners’ numeracy understanding

What must graduates be aware of, equipped with, and ready to do?

The Australian Industry Group and the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers partnered to explore the mathematics workers do in 11 different industries. The purpose of the project was to:

  • identify numeracy skills used in the workplace
  • identify how these skills were acquired
  • consider how the findings may influence future teaching approaches.

The 21st century workplace needs workers who tune in to the bigger picture of how and where numeracy matters, and how they, the worker, matters to that enterprise. The report providess specific numeracy skills workers are expected to perform – you may be surprised with the range. This is an interesting read. We think it will make you think about if, and how, your graduates demonstrate the skills identified. In summary, gradauates must be:

  • Aware and familiar with a broader expectation of their role and the skill repertoire.
  • Equipped with a strong focus on HOW TO (concepts, strategies and skills). In the head techniques and using tools. Identify when accuracy is critical, or estimation is ok.
  • Ready to use the outcomes to contribute to workplace, provide solutions, use an inquiry approach. THINK about what’s going on here? What is the consequence, who needs to know?

“It is now more important for teachers to consider how they teach rather than what they teach “ (2014. p. 2)

Check your understanding of what  numeracy involves

Is numeracy just the LLN word for mathematics? Most people associate numeracy with the applying mathematical knowledge – the second part of the process (the green circled aspect). But it’s more than that.

Numeracy is influenced by , and situated in Language and Literacy” 

(Dave Tout, 2015 ACER presentation,  How do the L, L and N in LLN intersect? Some connections between language, literacy and numeracy).

The first part of the numeracy process is to interpret. We use our language radar to think what is this about and what is involved? To do this we relate the contet to what we know about the context and information.  We then use literacy skills to read the information and identify key words or details.

The second part of the numeracy process is the use of mathematics – number and calculations – to find out or answer the question. We may use in the head, or paper-based, or calculator techniques.

The third part of the numeracy process is to communicate the solution. To communicate we use our language and literacy skills again. Language skills help us to respond in context and use appropriate words/sentences. Literacy skills enable us to write, speak, or indicate with a diagram the solution.

Check the language and literacy demand required to interpret the numeracy task.

Check out 4 resources that introduce numeracy concepts

Victorian Adult Literacy and basic education council (VALBEC) Beth Marr Introduction series designed for trainers. They offer tips and advice to progress these numeracy aspects:

  • How to get students talking about numeracy
  • Sense of Volume
  • Volume 2: metric units of volume
  • Making sense of fractions
  • Making sense of subtraction
  • Guess, estimate and measure

Khan Academy

Trainers can use this to, check own understanding,  demonstrate concepts to learners, or observe helpful ways to explain concepts. Each mathematics area has practice examples, and a video to explain the concept or process. Learners will need some introduction to navigate the site easily, and their own password.

Learners may need some introduction to navigate the site, and their own password.

Numbers: The context is Construction and plumbing services.  These key mathematics concepts are introduced: calculations, area, volume, ratios and measurement – and include  practice examples.

Fliplets is a hospitality resource with a strong language, literacy and numeracy focus. It can be used to introduce language and literacy across a range of kitchen related aspects.

There are 9 areas – from kitchen types and tools, to measurements, food groups, menus and recipes. Each section has a glossary – visual and audio. No practice examples but the format is is interactive.

Introduce numeracy concepts in context a variety of ways. Follow-up with examples.

Check learners’ understanding

Unpack the numeracy question – ask learners:

  • What exactly is the question asking?
  • What data is involved?
  • What calculations are involved?
  • How confident are you to work this out?

Unpack the working out – ask learners:

  • How did you work this out?
  • Explain what you are doing as you do it.
  • Does this approach make sense?
  • Are there other ways to work this out?
  • How confident are you with the answer?

Make communicating about numeracy the norm

We hope the information, suggestions and resources enable you to help graduates develop strong numeracy skills to equip them for the 21st century worklace.

 

ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement: 2016 version

First…
A quick reminder that our very short, online survey closes COB this Monday, 31 October 2016.  The survey asks for your feedback about our site – what works, what doesn’t, and what to feature in 2017.  We’d be grateful for your feedback.

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Thank you!  And now, back to our regularly-scheduled post!

acsf-pre-l1-supp

Hot off the press!

The Department of Education has released a new version of the ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement.

This new supplement will make it easier for us to meet needs of our learners.  Learners working at pre-level 1 need time to build skills, and usually progress in small steps.  The new pre-level 1 supplement describes these small—and now more recognisable—steps that learners working at pre-level 1 may take towards pre-level 1 exit level.  This will make it easier for us to more accurately identify, develop and report on the capacity of learners at ACSF pre-level 1, and identify ways to link from pre-level 1 to higher ACSF levels.

Make sure you access the 2016 DET updated version, rather than the previous PDF version

What’s new about this version?

The new ACSF Pre-Level Supplement offers, for each core skill, the same sections and structure as the 5 LLN core skills levels 1 to 5. This includes…

“… a detailed set of Indicators, Focus Areas, Performance Features and Sample Activities by which learner core skill gains can be determined and reported.”

(Department of Education and Training 2016 ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement, p1)

Stages are new!

At first glance, it may seem that the pre-level 1 information in this new supplement is presented in the same way as for core skill levels 1 to 5.  But this isn’t quite true.

For the first time, the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement describes two stages of progress—Stage A and Stage B—to represent the incremental progress learners may make.

The table below explains how each core skill is described in the new ACSF Pre-Level 1 Supplement:

Indicators Indicators are provided for each core skill.

Most of these start with, “Begins to …”

Focus Areas The focus areas that learners are likely to be able to demonstrate have Performance Features included.
Performance Features Performance features now describe two stages of skill development—Stage A and Stage B.
Sample Activities Sample activities are not divided into the three Communication Domains.  This is because at this level learners will need to develop their skills from highly familiar, personally relevant, and immediate contexts.

Sample activities for Stages A and B are provided.

Variables One set of variables applies to both stages.
Here’s an example

The example below shows Pre-Level 1 Writing Indicator 0.05: Begins to produce basic written text Performance Descriptions – stages A and B:

pre-level-1-3

Why should we bother using this Pre-Level 1 Supplement?

SBS’s Insight program recently aired an episode called Reading Between the Lines (first aired on 23/9/2016), which highlighted the challenges some adult learners face with developing LLN and foundation skills.

reading-between-the-lines

This episode is an important reminder of the many people in our communities who may have limited LLN/foundation skills but who sincerely want to participate successfully in today’s world. We have a responsibility to do what we can to facilitate this.

We feel that this new Pre-Level 1 Supplement will help us identify a way forward.

Extra reading… preparing pre-level 1 instruction or assessment activities

  • The Pre-Level 1 Supplement offers good practice approaches (within the Theoretical Underpinnings section, page 1)
  • The Performance Features  and Sample activities for each LLN core skill  provide a range of skills and activities that are highly useful to preparing instruction and assessment strategies and approaches
  • If you want to see some examples of instruction or assessment tasks, have a look at the  Precision Consultancy ACSF validated tools. Two examples are shown here.
Example 1:  Making numbers work

pre-l1-numeracy-eg-1

Example 2: Make a Sling

pre-l1-reading-eg1

Focus on formative assessment to build foundation skills

Formative Assessment

For this post, the Formative assessment refers to  the training stage sandwiched between Diagnostic assessment and Summative assessment. The stage of training where learners generally practise the foundation skills used to perform the workplace task.

Training Phase

Type of foundation skills assessment

Pre-training, or start of training Diagnostic assessment: check for learners’ existing foundation skills
During training
Formative assessment: check learners’ progress with learning how to perform the foundation skills embedded in the workplace task. Assessment for learning.
Completion of training Summative assessment: assess competency to perform the foundation skills embedded within the workplace task.  Assessment of learning.
The benefits of formative assessment to Build learners’ foundation

A typical training program follows the pattern:

  1. instructions about the workplace task (and the underpinning foundation skills)
  2. activities to practise the foundation skills required to perform the workplace task
  3. assess the learners’ competency to perform the workplace task with the embedded foundation skills

For learners who commence with enough workplace and foundation skills knowledge, this process may be sufficient.

But, if you have learners who:

  • are new to the workplace skill, or embedded foundation skill (Novice performer)
  • have some prior experience with the skills, but are unsure  (Advanced Beginner)
  • may need some skill revision, or a prompt to perform independently (Capable performer)

……… then, how will you know the instruction is sufficient to enable the learners to perform  independently and confidently at the time of final assessment.

For both trainers and learners it is valuable to find out as soon as possible, if learners need:

  • re-direction with ‘how-to’
  • revisiting strategies or resources
  • alternative strategies or approaches
  • alternative resources or support

……………to build foundation skills.

Adult learners:

  • can easily go off-track
  • may need to ‘un-do’ or re-learn a strategy, concept, or understanding
  • will benefit from confirmation of their approach
  • seek timely feedback

Formative assessment:

  • enables trainers to check the strength of instruction (‘how to’  …) and support strategies
  • enables the learners’ to become active participants in the learning process.

Think about ………….the implications of assuming learners are developing the necessary foundation skills, and don’t check?

We recommend an active and planned approach: Make formative assessment a priority…………..
1 implement an Assess to Learn approach

Assess Learn cycle_learningfirst.org.aublog05022016 Develop a feedback-driven learning environment where you are tuned-in to the foundation skills progress made by the learners and use this to influence the guidance and the instruction you provide, or the delivery plan overall.

  • Assesses learners’ needs – what are the learners’ skills, what do they need to learn ‘how to do’ now?
  • Select the strategies and approaches to develop the learners’ foundation skills
  • Evaluatethrough formative assessment –  the effectiveness: check progress, understanding, confidence to perform the task independently What progress have learners made?

Think about …….. how might formative assessment influence your instruction approaches to build foundation skills?

2  Where possible, stretch the Practice phase out

Formative assessment cropped

‘Dip-into’ learners’ foundation skills progress during the ‘practice’ stage of delivery. Build into the practice stage frequent opportunities to capture what learners CAN do, and the  challenges they face. Be open to their reflective comments.

The benefits of collaborative activity

“Beware of the lonely learner: they are at risk of making less progress”

Denise Meyerson  2016 , Emerging Trends in Learning ACPET webinar

For learners: Working with others or responding to the thoughts and ideas of others helps to shape the learning and provides an ‘informal’ formative assessment.

For trainers: Providing feedback to a group is effective and impacts all learns involved – it may also be less time -consuming.

Think about ………when are the timely opportunities to check in with learners as they practise the foundation skills independently, or with others?

3 Tune-in to learner’s skill development, some suggested etools

Some etools to assist formative assessment:

Other approaches: 53 Ways to check for understanding
4 make the check in worthwhile for you and the learner

The type of feedback can make the difference between the learner moving forward or not.

  1. Accessed from www.freeimages.com under creative commons licence 8/8/16
    Accessed from http://www.freeimages.com under creative commons license 8/8/16

    Clarify steps, reveal the foundation skill nuances for this workplace context, expose common mistakes, or misunderstandings.

  2. Confirm progress, strengths and what’s needed
  3. Construct clear benchmarks/checklists/rubrics with what is expected or required

 

If you are interested in:

How to build LLN assessment into VET training (including formative assessment):

  • join us as we deliver a webinar via Velg on 30 August, 2016.
  • contact us to answer your questions

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Learners’ Week 2015 – Unlocking Learning

 Get ready. The time to celebrate is almost here.

ALW2015_20yearsSeptember signals two United Nations (UNESCO) endorsed celebrations; Adult Learners’ Week and International Literacy Day. It’s a time to promote the opportunities you offer to enable adults to continue to learn. It’s also time to celebrate their achievements. 2015 is a twenty year milestone for Australian Adult Learner’s Week Celebrations.

 

What is the purpose? What is celebrated? adl ild

The 2015 theme: Unlocking Learning

I remember a song by The Whitlams – Keep the Light On – with these words that neatly express the challenges we and the adult learners sometimes face in the challenge and goal to search for the key to unlock learning:

We stumble into each other’s lives and we knock some things over, Try not to make a sound, Each time you reach out, a new shout or shine-on, We run in and fall out, fumble around for the key ………….

Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15
Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15

 

Regardless of the adult learners’ age, or the teaching context, it is a privilege to facilitate adult learning.

 

 

 

If you’d like strategies and ideas to unlock learning and build learners’ literacy (foundation skills), then you might like to:

  • participate in the LLN and VET Meeting Place Teaching Tips to build your learners’ foundation skills Webinar series.
  • communicate with a Foundation Skills Champion in your state, or a similar workplace context. The National Foundation Skills Strategy Project provides details.
  • ask questions and obtain ideas on the FS Teach Facebook group.

Participate in Adult Learners’ Week

If you’d like to find out more about, or be involved with Adult Learner’s Week, then you might like to: