A time to reflect on 2017 and shape 2018 foundation skill practices

 

This time of year offers an opportunity to reflect and revisit those great ideas that passed your way during the year.  Sometimes changes are made to teaching, learning and /or assessment practices as a result of that insight.

Who will find time to explore the ‘must-remember this’ collection from 2017 – those useful resources and tips pinned to the ‘remember this’ notice-board? This might be that time to ask, ‘Now where is that URL?’, ‘Where did I pin that resource suggestion?’, or ‘Where’s that blog with the 6 tips about …?’ 

Some reports are released with little fanfare and limited discovery. This blog is about one report that may, or may not have passed your way. We believe it deserves some attention and reflection. It is the 2017 OECD report:

Building Skills for all in Australia Policy Insights from the Survey of Adult Skills

If you are looking for something to prompt, prod, nudge, or trigger you into a reflective mindset, then explore this report. This OECD report is relevant to each person involved with adult education and training – regardless of the context.

This slideshow reveals a summary of the key messages. The powerpoint is pre-loaded – click the arrows to progress slides.

Look out for:

  1. the foundation skill that needs the greatest ‘shout out’
  2. the NEET recommendations (NEET ** see below)
  3. literacy and numeracy skills of graduates with high-level VET courses
  4. addressing individual needs
  5. the link between literacy and numeracy skills, and quality criteria

NEET** = Young person Not in Employment Education and Training

Each of these report findings is worthy of more attention than we provide now –  it’s not the time of year for more tips and strategies – so we will finish with one or two key points, or quotes, for you to think about.

1. Raise the numeracy profile

“One Australian in 5 performs below [ACSF] Level 2 in Numeracy, which means that around 3 million Australians struggle with the numerical reasoning necessary to cope with everyday situations (such as reading a petrol gauge).”

 Building Skills for all in Australia p48

Teach Numeracy Differently – keep it in context

Hot off the press – a new resource from one of Australia’s Numeracy experts – Dave Tout – Numeracy: teaching maths in context. Go to http://multifangled.com.au/wp/?page_id=70

Include numeracy in teaching and learning conversations.  Point out where numeracy exists – it’s everywhere. Numeracy relates to every workplace role in some way – either explicitly or implicitly – ‘How long does it take you to …?’, and it relates to many areas of life.  Here’s something relevant to most learners: What Happens in an Internet Minute 

2. Engage NEETs 

NEETS (aged 16 – 29) may be unemployed, outside the labour market and may not be looking for a job. This makes it a challenge to engage with them via usual policy and promotion.

“Almost 40% of NEETs are [school] dropouts.”

“NEETs have lower levels of non-cognitive skills than non-NEET youth…(openness, extroversion, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness).”

OECD 2017 Building Skills for all in Australia  p.74

3. Build foundation skills for learners in high-level VET courses

Our VET system is inclusive and caters to adults with different needs.  This is a hallmark of the Australian education sector. We have a strong focus on identifying learners’ existing skills, prior to training, or as close to the start of training as possible. We use this information to plan support approaches to build foundation skills for those learners’ with identified foundation skill needs.

“For many [higher level VET] students, the problem of  basic skills is not resolved at the point of graduation”

OECD 2017 Building Skills for all in Australia p.58

4. Address individual needs

“Helping adults to improve their basic skills remains a challenge nearly everywhere and there are no easy answers. But the alternative – of doing nothing – is even worse.”

OECD 2017 Why it matters if you can’t read this accessed 12/12/17

5. Embed foundation skills within quality processes

“Some institutions may accept students with poor basic skills with no intention or capacity to address this challenge.

Basic numeracy and literacy should therefore underpin all post-secondary VET qualifications.”

  OECD 2017 Building Skills in Australia p.11

ASQA made two subtle shifts this year, each intended to strengthen the focus on quality training delivery and assessment – this includes attention to foundation skills.  ASQA:

  1. introduced a student-centred audit approach.  The summary video is here
  2. sharpened their focus on foundation skill requirements for units of comptency. See the second half of the ASQA 2017 Trainer Provider Briefing PowerPoint .

Perhaps you will be prompted to:

  • take on a new strategy
  • be more rigorous with observation
  • initiate a new approach
  • develop or revise a plan
  • increase tactic discussions
  • think, “How can I tweak my training and assessment practice to address this?”

Enjoy any time you have to reflect!

Season’s Greetings

 

 

Numeracy matters

http://www.freeimages.com/ on 7/12/15
http://www.freeimages.com/ on 7/12/15

We know that Numeracy matters

Numeracy integrates with many aspects of our lives. Sometimes we may not be aware of the calculations we apply so seamlessly, then there are other times when we are aware that we can’t work something out! Living in the 21st Century requires increased numeracy skills and knowledge to navigate the personal, community and workplace numeracy contexts.

For example, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey of more than 150,000 adults in 148 countries in 2014 asked adults four questions based on financial concepts: risk diversification, inflation, numeracy and compound interest

The results: 30% of women and 35% of men could answer at least 3 of the four questions asked

In his discussion post (below) Dave Tout reminds us of the possible impact of living with limited numeracy skills or knowledge. Referring to the Australian results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), Dave comments …..

…..…”that the results, no matter how you read them, demonstrate that a significant number of Australians aged 15 years and upwards do not have access to sufficient numeracy and mathematical skills to cope equitably with life in the 21st century.

The capacity to make informed decisions – in the workplace or when out shopping, following instructions about a medical or health matter, making decisions about financial matters, or understanding the implications of, say, gambling – all require good numeracy skills.

LinkedIn discussion (TAE Newcomers 2/10/15)

Numeracy instruction matters

The AAMT and AIG Identifying and Support Skills of 21st Century Workers provides an overview of the mathematics used in the workplace. The need to communicate mathematically,  use in the head techniques and interpret from given data are featured in different examples.

Where possible, and perhaps more than usual, identify opportunities to strengthen learners’ numeracy skills and knowledge. Here are some suggestions to consider.

Go beyond the expected

http://www.freeimages.com/ 8/12/15
http://www.freeimages.com/ 8/12/15

 

Encourage learners to tune in to where numeracy is ‘happening’ in their lives. Go beyond the training context (if you have the opportunity) Each day on news – no matter where it is accessed, there are facts, figures , results, amounts, budgets, statistics ……- there is usually a context relevant to the learner group that could bring numeracy to life and/or be incorporated into training. Build opportunities to talk about numeracy in an ‘everyday’ conversation way.

Go beyond your comfort zone!

http://www.freeimages.com/ 8/12/15
http://www.freeimages.com/ 8/12/15

Building numeracy skills can feel ‘prickly’ if you are not usually involved with the numeracy task. Our everyday lives may not involve using the breadth of mathematical and measurement calculations, we can be a bit rusty, or there may be calculations we have never learnt; this can be the case in specific vocation areas.

 

  • Check your own capacity to do the task. Be sure of the underpinning steps involved, potential trouble spots, required skills and knowledge.
  • If you are feeling a bit rusty – go to where you might be able to revisit some important basics. This free 5 week MOOC Numeracy Skills for Employability and the Workplace starts again in February.
  • If you are looking for how to build your learners’ foundation skills training, We also have the Numeracy webinar recording available for purchase. We discuss Teaching Tips instruction strategies to  build learners’ numeracy skills within training, including use of elearning resources. Read more about the webinar here.

Go to where the learner is at

Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15
Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15
  • Learners may be a bit rusty too. Offer tasks and activities that enable you to see or hear how the learner approaches the calculations involved.
  • Offer step by step revision, scaffolded with resources to ‘see’ the steps again, or practise them.
  • Some calculations require steps in a particular order, to remain on-target, reveal the hidden traps.

Go to sites that encourage learners to use numeracy for personal use

  • Google Calendar
  • Google Maps
  • Google Spreadsheet
  • online calculators, currency converters

Go to resources that show how to do a specific calculations.

The following resources are a selection of from the Teaching Strategies page 2 Numeracy resources. There are many more, we encourage you to ‘go and have a look’!.

  • BBC Skills wise – range of familiar getting started concepts presented at three levels. Includes teacher explanation, practice worksheets, many with answers available, some videos and quizzes.
  • VALBEC Strength with Numbers – range of familiar getting started concepts. Includes teaching strategies, activities and games, worksheet tasks
  • Khan Academy (need you own login) – may take a little navigating but once you know your way around there are video explanations, practice tasks (self correcting) quizzes for many mathematical calculations.
  • Mathcentre resources  – four examples
  • Facts and formula for functional mathematics (Leaflet)
  • Reading tables and graphs (PDF)
  • Finance – range of topics (PDF)
  • Percentages (VIDEO)
  • 10 You Tube channels showing a variety of strategies – check these out first. Aim to to avoid resources prepared for use with children, especially if they look very child-friendly