NOMAD 12(1), 2007. Developing numeracy in the workplace

Skapad: 2007-04-17. Ändrad: 2007-04-17  

NOMAD 12(1), 2007. Developing numeracy in the workplace

GAIL E. FITZSIMONS and TINE WEDEGE

Abstract

Internationally, adult literacy and numeracy are in general recognized as cultural techniques. However, the two competences and their development are contested among politicians and researchers. Numeracy is often subsumed under literacy and/or described in isolation from the situational context. Adult numeracy at work is often described unproblematically as transfer from school to workplace. With reference to Bernstein’s theoretical framework, we claim that adult numeracy on the labour market is a horizontal discourse, in contrast to the vertical discourse of mathematics. This article draws on the findings from an Australian study into numeracy in the context of chemical spraying and handling, utilising a methodology based on activity theory. The main findings are that mathematically straightforward skills become transformed into workplace numeracy competence, when the complexities associated with successful task completion as well as the supportive role of mediating artefacts and the workplace community of practice are taken into account.

Sammendrag

Internationalt er voksnes ”literacy” og ”numeracy” anerkendt som kulturteknikker. Men blandt politikere, uddannelsesbureaukrater og forskere er der langtfra enighed om indholdet i de to kompetencer, og om hvordan de udvikles. Numeracy bliver ofte underordnet literacy og/eller beskrevet isoleret fra den situationelle kontekst. Voksnes numeracy i arbejdet beskrives ofte som en helt uproblematisk overførsel (transfer) af matematiske kundskaber og færdigheder fra skole til arbejdsplads. Med reference til Bernstein’s teoretiske ramme påstår forfatterne at voksnes numeracy på arbejdsmarkedet er en horisontal diskurs i modsætning til matematikkens vertikale diskurs. Artiklen er baseret på resultater fra et australsk studie af numeracy inden for kemisk sprøjtning og håndtering. Heri er metodologien baseret på virksomhedsteori. Hovedresultaterne er at rene matematiske færdigheder bliver transformeret til numeracy som arbejdspladskompetence, når der tages højde for kompleksiteten i den succesfulde opgaveudførelse ligesom det medierende artefakt og arbejdspladsens praksisfællesskab.

 

GAIL E. FITZSIMONS
Gail FitzSimons was a teacher of mathematics, statistics, and numeracy subjects to adult students of further and vocational education in community, industry, and institutional settings for 20 years. She was awarded an Australian Research Council Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, 2003–2006, for a project entitled: Adult numeracy and new learning technologies: an evaluative framework.

TINE WEDEGE
Tine Wedege is associate professor at the School of Teacher Education, Malmö University, Sweden, and professor II at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. Her research interests include social and affective dimensions of people’s relationship with mathematics, adult’s mathematics in work and identity of mathematics education as a research domain.