“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.”
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:
- Check – what must graduates be aware of, equipped with, and ready to do?
- Check your understanding of what numeracy involves
- Check out 4 resources that introduce numeracy concepts
- 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
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.