Wednesday 12 December 2018

Petrol Maths

Stolen from David Farrar. 

"So when petrol prices are around $2.50 a litre, how much money does the Government get from you to fill up a 50 litre car?

  • National Land Transport Fund $31.51
  • GST $16.31 (on a $2.50 retail price)
  • Regional Fuel Tax (in Auckland) $5.00
  • ACC Levy $3.00
  • Local Authorities Fuel Tax $0.33
  • Engine Fuel Monitoring Levy $0.15

But that isn’t all. To pay for the $125 petrol bill, you need to (if top tax rate) earn $186.57 which means there was also income tax of $61.57.
So every-time you spend $125 filling up the car with petrol, the Government will have got $117.86 as you will have had to have earned almost $190 to pay for it!"

Note from Damon: This might not be the content to use in a financial literacy class as it may just make the students angry.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Good teachers/tutors make the difference

Note: The quality of teacher/tutors is directly related to outcomes.

Chauvel (2014) notes:

New Zealand research conducted over the last 10 years has consistently highlighted that the quality of teaching and the effectiveness of the learning environments facilitated by teaching staff is crucial to Pasifika and Māori learner engagement in tertiary education. As stated by Alton-Lee (2003): “…high achievement for diverse groups of learners is an outcome of the skilled and cumulative pedagogical actions of teaching in creating and optimising an effective learning environment… Quality teaching influences the quality of student participation, involvement and achievement (including social outcomes)” (p.1-2).

Supporting teachers and tutors is pivotal to improving learning outcomes. Not sure why this is argued?

Monday 24 September 2018

Yes - this blog is ALIVE!!!!

And we're back online... The PhD is done and dusted, and all systems are go. 

This blog was designed to present the process and findings of the PhD in a usable way to the sector. I started uploading lesson plans, activities, ideas, strategies and so on and then it sort of puttered out as life got busy.

I'm going to be developing more content and this blog will be where I test ideas in a risk free environment.  I need an outlet that is low stakes to try things out. So if you are interested, I'll be dumping all sorts of stuff here to do with adult education. It'll be pretty raw, but fun, and I hope highly interesting and useful.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Last few days of the PhD

Well, this is it - five years of work nearly over. Expect lots of content soon!

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Cheap and nasty?  No way! 

It's all about engagement!

Some people may wonder why I do not use better materials than paper and dice to develop numeracy skills.  Well, I do.  But only when they improve learner thinking. 

My philosophy to teaching mathematics and numeracy is to focus entirely on student thinking.  Student thinking (which I call 'engagement') is a moment in time when the student stops thinking about everything except the task at hand (some call it 'flow')- they are absorbed fully in the moment as they struggle to make sense or meaning out of the information at hand.  It is in these rare moments that the learner 'constructs understanding'. And hence these are the most precious moments in a teacher or tutors day.  

Everything else is superfluous.  Everything else is killing time.  Everything else distracts.  

So, because I believe that it is only 'what happens in the head' that results in learning I am very utilitarian about my gear.  

My only question when using material is:  does this facilitate learner thinking?

To sum up the wise HULK below: Fancy resources look good but you do what you must do to get the job done. 

Image result for linked hulk smash

Self-regulated learning

The single biggest factor in learner success is a learners ability to self-regulate their learning.  It is the exact opposite to 'learned helplessness' that you should read about here.  Learn about it, understand it, and you will become a better educator.

Of course, self-regulated learning (SRL) is not easy to develop in learners particularly learners who have been beaten around by the educational sector.  Also SRL can be broken down into many sub-skills and dispositions that are generally developed separately but used cohesively.

I used to think that SRL was the secret to developing the potential of adult learners with problematic learning histories.  I used to think it was the answer to the literacy and numeracy problem.  No more embedded ELN, no more literacy or numeracy provision - just SRL.

I now realise that sitting below SRL are belief systems that dictate SRL - beliefs are the mainspring of downstream effects.

As such the form below is no good on its own, even with an extensive PD package that was almost developed and ready to go.

Moving on.

The problem of engagement

There is a line of thought in the numeracy discourse that goes like this: A learner's motivation in a certain area can be used to piggyback numeracy content.

An example is a learner who loves cars, and is on an automotive engineering course.  The theory states that they will engage to a greater degree with numeracy if it is presented in the context of car specs, and if the content is relevant to their needs.

It sounds true.  And there is some self-report data to support the idea.  Learners who believe that numeracy is useful tend to achieve better than those who don't.

But, I'm not so sure about all this.

Engagement in 'numeracy tasks' at a micro level is how numeracy skills are developed. Does the relevance of the situation context improve micro engagement?  Not from what I am seeing.

Here are some questions for numeracy tutors:

  • Do your learners engage more in numeracy tasks that are fun or important?
  • Do your learners engage more in numeracy tasks that have clear performance goals (how many can I get right) or conceptual understanding goals (a new way of thinking about an idea)?
  • Do your learners engage in different ways depending on the time of day, or the day of the week?
  • Are your learners motivated by passing assessments, or developing meaningful understandings of numeracy concepts that will be useful in their lives?
Finally, do your learners actually believe that the numeracy content they are learning on the programme is relevant to their needs?  And how would you know?

The joy of teaching and learning

This meme cracked me up for some reason.  I've been the teacher and the student.

Monday 26 March 2018

Adult Numeracy Back in the House

I've been away for a while but back in business (PhD thesis submitted!). The clip below is useful for adult educators teaching numeracy. Someone else edited it, so some key points have been cut that would have rounded it out - and made it epic. So its not epic, but it does make some good points I think.


In anticipation of some kickback - note that OECD study that explored strategy use, utilised a methodology to ask learners, not teachers what strategies they were taught. Of course all the teachers said they promoted elaboration strategies, but the learners are a better indicator in this case. 

Echazarra,A., et al. (2016), "How teachers teach and students learn: Successful strategies for school", OECD Education Working Papers, No. 130, OECD Publishing, Paris.