Identifying and supporting numeracy needs of first year undergraduate education students
Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER)
School of Education
Currently Australian pre-service teachers’ levels of personal numeracy are under a great deal of scrutiny. There are calls for universities to raise entry standards into teaching degrees and counter-calls that the output of universities should be gauged rather than inputs. In 2015, doubts about the ability of graduate teachers to convey the desired skills, knowledge and attitudes in mathematics led the Australian Government to mandate the introduction of the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students. From 2017, all pre-service teachers in Australia will be required to pass prior to graduation. The present research sought to identify specific areas of support that may be needed by first year primary education students in order to meet the anticipated numeracy requirements of the test.
Students’ understandings were inferred from the analysis of the examination scripts of 471 first year primary education students. Common errors were identified and coded to reveal aspects of students’ mathematical content knowledge requiring further attention. The results suggested that students would benefit from further support in areas such as operations with fractions, order of operations, line symmetry, converting fractions to decimals, and metric conversions. The results were used to inform the development of a series of online numeracy support videos. The perceived efficacy of these resources was examined in a series of focus group interviews conducted with students, leading to recommendations for the subsequent development and deployment of online numeracy support resources.
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