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Supporting adult learners with low mathematical skills

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by MJHa, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. MJHa

    MJHa New commenter

    Hi all,

    I am trying to develop methods for supporting students that struggle the most with the mathematical aspects of Accounting Courses.

    For example, I have one student that is currently studying toward Level 2 FS Maths whilst also studying Level 2 AAT. In class she is sat next to an excellent student who is working hard to mentor her. She also receives more direct attention from me than others in the class.

    However, her progress is slow and she is not becoming an independent learner.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to best help students like this one to cope with the content of the course?

    Thank you for in advance.

  2. elder_cat

    elder_cat Lead commenter

    My own subject specialism was Computing, but I think the problem rears its' head in across a range of FE subject areas. I understand the requirement to "put bums on seats" - it's a necessary evil in order to secure funding and job security. But it inevitably leads to some students being loaded onto courses on which they struggle with the content.

    Never having taught L2 FS Maths, I had to take a look at the 'spec' for some idea of content. If I'm reading it correctly, the expectation is that students "should be able to do maths where there is not a problem involved", in terms of underpinning knowledge in order to begin studying at L2. If this learner isn't capable of doing that, then perhaps there might be a case for looking at how learners are selected for specific courses, which doesn't simply look whether they can offer the "minimum requirements", but also the likelihood of a successful outcome.

    I'm no Accountant, and I could have it wrong, but as I read it, the content of the 'spec' for the L2 AAT for the most part doesn't appear to contain an awful lot of what I would call 'standalone maths'. It appears to be mostly 'procedural' or 'transactional', where the student needs to know what to do and how to do it, including the use of computers (i.e., spreadsheets).

    The problem with using another more able student as a 'mentor', is that they should really be directing their efforts towards working towards their own qualification, not worrying about someone else. Similarly, spending more time working with this student simply means you have less time for the others in the class.

    In my experience, some students are incapable of becoming truly independent learners, whilst others are perfectly capable but just can't be bothered, and as long as they have someone else propping them up, they have no real reason to want to become one.

    If this student is struggling as much as you suggest with underlying mathematical ability, then perhaps you might have to take them to one side with their parents or guardians, and evaluate whether Accounting (or for that matter, any other area involving a good basic standard of numeracy) is the right choice, and whether they may be better off looking at alternatives.

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