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Case Study: Using Workplace Resources to Develop Literacy and Numeracy Skills


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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:29 by NZTecAdmin

Using Workplace Resources to Develop Literacy & Numeracy Skills

Identifying Literacy and Numeracy Issues

During the 2010 year ATC Professional worked with several engineering companies to increase internal capability through improved literacy and numeracy. Initial meetings with industry leaders had indicated that numeracy and literacy issues were placing additional pressure on processes and employees. Specific examples included issues around reporting procedures, time sheet completion, accurate measurement and verbal communication. ATC Professional responded by conducting a ‘Needs Analysis’ in which the literacy and numeracy demands of specific and general engineering tasks were assessed. This was followed by the design of a contextualised assessment for use with a sample of the employees.

The assessment results demonstrated that literacy and numeracy development was required. The results clarified what industry leaders had initially identified and also identified underpinning reasons for ongoing issues. Of particular note was an issue of miscommunication occurring between employees when working with method sheets. A method sheet is a visual plan of a machine component and includes measurements, tolerance ranges, written notes and a range of perspectives. The overarching objective of ATC Professional’s involvement was for engineers to be able to access, understand and use the existing workplace information. These included procedure manuals, forms, tools, instructions, Zues reference books and in particular the method sheets.

Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Training

In order to address and improve numeracy and verbal communication skills the method sheet was used as the primary tool. Utilising the Shapes and Transformation Progression, the Location Progression and the Speaking and Listening Learning Progressions, tutors devised an activity in which an engineer with the method sheet described key information to an engineer without the method sheet verbally. This activity required the engineers to clearly articulate the component features, uses, numerical measurements and tolerances and particular written notes deemed pivotal to its design. In addition, the receiver of the information had to ask specific clarifying questions. The clarifying questions often required numerical notation and orientating language to be used. As the receiver had to accurately describe the component this activity saw a rapid improvement in communication between engineers and also in numeracy skills generally. Numeracy issues that were raised during this activity were directly addressed in further activities. This activity demonstrated how an ubiquitous workplace resource (the method sheet) could be used to develop a wide range of literacy and numeracy skills while also directly meeting stakeholder expectations.

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