BEFORE: How do I create a contextualised numeracy diagnostic I can use?


How do I create my own contextualised numeracy diagnostic assessment?

Once you’ve used the Assessment Tool to get some “broad brush” diagnostic information about the numeracy strengths and needs of your learners, you’ll need to drill down into some more specific areas where you want to focus your embedded numeracy teaching.

You don’t have to be driven by your Assessment Tool results, but they might help to confirm what you already know about the numeracy needs of your learners.

One of the best ways to create a contextualised vocabulary diagnostic is to consider some or all of the things that you now know about the programme you teach and what your learners need to do to be successful at their study or jobs.

Here’s a process that might guide your thinking:

1. Consider what else you now know about your programme and your learners

As we said earlier, it’s ok to change your learning outcome as your thinking changes or becomes more focused.

You’re not locked into what you wrote for your numeracy outcome in your last assessment. However, remember that your direction should be informed by the demands of your programme and what you’re learning about your learners.

Here are some other things to think about, as you narrow down your focus and choose one particular aspect of numeracy to work with for your project work in this course:

  • If you are a trades tutor, Is there a particular calculation that your learners always struggle with? This might be a calculation for area, volume or rate of application.
  • Do your learners need to use tools to measure things? For example, should you focus on how to use the tools correctly to measure accurately?
  • Do you know from your mapping earlier, that the course work or job requires certain kinds of basic numeracy knowledge and skills? For example, you could target one of these: fractions, decimals, percentages, place value.
  • If you are an ESOL teacher, should you focus on an aspect of numeracy that includes important language such as time or directions. For example, at step 1 of the Location progression, learners should be able to use everyday language to describe the location of objects in physical space or represented in drawings or photographs. Such language includes under, above, on top of, below, beside, to the left of, to the right of, nearby, behind, and in front of.

2. Revisit your learning outcome for numeracy

You went through a similar process for literacy but think back to your last assessment task. You wrote some broad programme strategies and then developed some more specific learning outcomes. This time, we’re interested in the numeracy learning outcome.

Shortly, we’re going to talk through some different scenarios and examples showing how you might develop your own contextualised diagnostics for numeracy. Skip ahead if you want to get to these right away and come back later.

Otherwise, we want to outline the rest of the steps in the process.

3. Unpack a specific calculation or task

In order to unpack a calculation or task that includes some kind of maths, you ask the following question:

  • What do I need to know and do in order to do this?

In your learning outcome, you’ve determined what you want to achieve. Here, you’re trying to determine what they key underpinning knowledge and skills are.

Now, you need to brainstorm your ideas for the underpinning knowledge and skills. We’ve got some examples coming up over the following pages. You can skip ahead to these now if you want.

To finish off this brief discussion on unpacking calculations, two things can help at this stage. One is working with a colleague who understands your context. The other is working with the Learning Progressions is narrow down the range of knowledge and skills to particular progressions and steps. Get your strand charts out and identify which steps are important. 

Remember: the needs of your programme or workplace are going to be different to others needs and programmes. As the tutor, you know your learners best.

In our experience, tutors have very finely tuned intuitions about the direction they need to take. You should feel confident to trust this intuition until you have evidence that proves otherwise.

3. Develop some diagnostic questions based on what you’ve unpacked

Once you have determined what the outcome is that want, and what some of the key underpinning knowledge and skills are, you need to develop some brief diagnostic questions to figure out what the learners actually know.

The idea is that you use these diagnostic questions as pre and post assessments around the actual teaching component. The don’t necessarily have to be perfect, but you’ll find that if you can use them again with different learners over time, you’ll fine tune them and perfect them as you go.

Also, it’s worth mentioning here that after this you’ll probably have lots of great ideas for teaching activities as well. We’re going to save that discussion for the next part of the course which is all about planning and facilitating literacy and numeracy as you’ve embedded it into your context.

But if you’ve got some good idea, make some notes. Write down your ideas and we’ll come back to these soon.

Next up: We’ve got four different scenarios with four different approaches to developing contextualised numeracy diagnostic assessments:

  • Scenario 1: Financial literacy
  • Scenario 2: Painting and plastering
  • Scenario 3: Introduction to farming and agriculture
  • Scenario 4: ESOL workplace literacy

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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