Co-ordinator: Literacy & Numeracy Capability Development

That is my new title! I have been seconded into the School of Foundation Studies to work on a TEC funded project to ’embed’  literacy and numeracy skills  into all/some? of our programmes above level 3.

Why are we worried about literacy and numeracy in our higher level programmes you might ask? The simple reason is that many of the students working in these programmes  have not yet developed all the literacy and numeracy expertise needed for the demands of their courses.

Research has shown that teaching these generic literacy and numeracy skills in the context of the students’ course work is more effective than trying to “bolt them on” to courses in supplimentary classes or tutorials.  (I would reference this research if I had it to hand, however these are just working notes so I don’t and won’t).(I’ll do that later).

The task of this project is to develop capability/capacity of staff and institutional infrastructure to enable the necessary embedding of these ‘core competencies’, literacy and numeracy into our programmes.

The “Learning Progressions”  http://www.tec.govt.nz/templates/standard.aspx?id=1016 provide a framework for what we now call Literacy and Numeracy.  The Progressions are structured into seven strands :

  • Listen with Understanding
  • Speak to Communicate
  • Read with Understanding
  • Write to Communicate
  • Making Sense of Number to Solve Problems
  • Measure and interpret Shape and Space
  • Reason Statistically

Each strand is made up of several progressions which together describe the development of expertise within the strand. A progression implies a continuous, sequential movement towards expertise. The movement can be viewed as a set of steps, each step representing a significant learning development.

The division of the strands into progressions does not mean that each area of learning is isolated. They overlap one another and, in some cases, certain learning in one progression is a prerequisite for learning in another. Being aware of the links between listening, speaking, reading and writing helps learners to build the metacognition needed to transfer the learning from one area to the learning in others.

I was interested to discover that the highest step in each progression describes the knowledge and skills that underpin the literacy and numeracy competencies demonstrated by learners with level 2 or 3 NQF qualifications  (National Qualification Framework).

Learners who acquire all the skills in the relevant progressions will be more likely to succeed at levels 4 +.

The learning progressions provide a framework that shows what learners know and can do at successive points as they develop their expertise. They describe what is learned in the order that it is usually learned.

Many students appear to have a ‘spikey’ profile with gaps in some of the steps along the way to expertise. – How do we plug those gaps?…watch this space….

The progressions can be used :

  • as a diagnostic tool to gain a basic picture of the learners current skills – ie we will have a detailed profile of the learner at the start of the course
  • To identify the literacy and numeracy demands of specific tasks and texts we use in our courses –

Knowing the two bullet points above we can see if there is a GAP we need to plug between the abilities of the learner and the demands of our courses.

If we find there is a gap then the learning progressions can also be used to :

  • Provide methods, strategies and a sequence for teaching these missing skills.  (Removes/improves band aid model)

Otago Polytechnic and how to go about it. – The project

  • L4L literacy cluster participants – champions
  • L4L numeracy cluster participants – find new champions
  • OP Professional Development Days
  • Working with L&N  ‘Champions’ at OP –
  • programme based projects (eg midwifery – Jean Patterson)
  • Communication Skills Lecturers
  • Learning Centre Lecturers
  • Resource Development – website repository
  • Networking and collaborating with other Polytechnics
  • GCTLT – teacher training course module – 21204 (Heather Day)
  • Appointment with Sue T(Academic Manager) – Institutional vision
  • Core Competencies – graduate profiles – future programme development – applicant profiles
  • Lesson Plans – Learning outcomes (specific/generic)
  • Perceived need in some departments – Design, (art) Sports Instit.

Phew what else?- don’t know

To DO: –

  • Presentation HOS/HOD’s – to secure Numeracy participants
  • Prepare departmental presentation  – introducing Learning Progressions
  • Meet with departmental  ‘Champions”
  • Read all the TEC publications – 7 progressions etc
  • Meet with Communication lecturers
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2 responses to “Co-ordinator: Literacy & Numeracy Capability Development

  1. helenlindsay

    Thanks Dave you are a star! I hoped you might chirp in with that reference.

  2. davidmcquillan

    You say “Research has shown that teaching these generic literacy and numeracy skills in the context of the students’ course work is more effective than trying to “bolt them on” to courses in supplimentary classes or tutorials. (I would reference this research if I had it to hand, however these are just working notes so I don’t and won’t).(I’ll do that later).”

    Here’s a reference for you
    Wingate, U. (2006). Doing away with ‘study skills’. Teaching in Higher Education, 11, 457-469.

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