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

Are you going round in circles about how to identify your new learner’s LLN/FSK existing skills? Consider these options.

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It’s the start of a new training year for many registered training organisations (RTOs), with the literacy needs of new and continuing learners to consider. Learner progress and success involves building from, or strengthening existing core skills. Identifying which core skills learners need to develop is an important step in the pre-training or ‘at-the-start’ of training phase, and informs the preparation and planning to promote explicit teaching of the necessary core skills. The new Standards for Registered Training Organisations RTOs (2015) – Standard Clause 1.2 presents this aspect.

If you have completed the unit TAELLN401/411 then you will be aware that the national benchmarking tool for identifying existing literacy skills is the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

Developing your own resources that are aligned to the ACSF can be more complicated than it seems, and potentially time-consuming. There are two nationally validated ACSF-based strategies/resources to currently available and worth considering.

1 Use the Australian Core Skills Framework assessment tools located at Precision Consultancy, which was funded by government to develop and prepare freely available ACSF validated tasks/tools across a range of specific and generic workplace contexts.

The particular workplace context or vocational area you are involved with may not be represented in these tasks/tools however, there are a selection of tasks/tools that embrace the core skills needed for your particular vocational training area, or that is deemed important for your learners to know to perform effectively in the workplace.  For example, if writing is a core workplace skill, then you can utilise the ACSF tasks/tools at the core skill level which matches your qualification requirements.

These tasks/tools are:

  • Aligned to the ACSF – have undergone extensive validation
  • Include some generic content
  • Cover the 5 ACSF core skills
  • Cover ACSF levels 1-4.

The Tasks/Tools Advantages:

  • Assessor advice/guidelines are included
  • Tasks/tools are ready to print off and use
  • They provide examples of performance/capability at the different ACSF levels
  • Some tasks/tools integrate more than one core skill
  • Best undertaken in a face to face context, but can be distributed electronically

The Tasks/Tools Disadvantages:

  • Some interpretation of learner performance is required with the writing/oral communication/learning core skills responses
  • May need to implement a separate approach to draw out learning and oral communication capacity

2 Participate in the trials of the ACER Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) .

“The Department of Industry has contracted the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to develop an online Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) to identify and assess an individual’s foundation skill levels. The tool will be available free to assist learners, job seekers, trainers, educators and employment services practitioners to assess their own or a client’s foundation skill levels, and help identify any gaps in skills and knowledge.” (FSAT  Overview http://www.acer.edu.au/fsat, 20/01/15)

The online FSAT tool combines the assessment of core skills against the ACSF and the Core Skills for Work (CSfW). The link ACER FSAT leads to a comprehensive explanation of the assessment intent and approaches to the different core skills.

The ACER FSAT needs your help. More RTO’s are encouraged to consider being involved in the tool trials, enabling some of the their students to participate in the trials. The trials are important  for achieving outcome/result/analyses reliability, which will ultimately impact on the tool’s use and value. Participation can also provide an opportunity to contribute feedback to the tool development through the observations/experiences of your learners, as well as increase your knowledge of this tool.

The FSAT Advantages

  • No cost involved
  • Available on-line (when released)
  • Combines both the ACSF and the CSfW
  • No preparation involved

The FSAT Disadvantages
It’s not yet available  – the trial phase is important for finalising  the end product. So become involved to enable the final product to be realised.

The Precision Consultancy ACSF tools, and the opportunity to trial the ACER FSAT on-line assessment, offer two readily available resources for teachers to identify the existing skills core skills (ACSF or ACSF and CSfW) of the learners you will be teaching, and may suit your circumstances at this, often hectic, time of the year. Take a look at these resources via the links and consider how they could be used in your context.

Please contact us at llnandvetmeetingplace@gmail.com:

  • If you would like more information or support interpreting these documents, and/or
  • You would like to discuss strategies for identifying your learners’ LLN/FSK core skill capacity using different approaches