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Introduction

This Learning Activity has been created for you by Cai Jones at the University of Central Lancashire

This Learning Activity provides:

  1. An exploration of the significance of numeracy in the workplace.
  2. An understanding of importance of some basic techniques in the business environment.
  3. An opportunity to improve basic numeracy techniques
  4. An appreciation of the place of numeracy and numerical reasoning in the context of employability.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this Learning Activity, you should be able to:

Getting Started

There are a number of different tasks for you to undertake to develop your knowledge and skills relating to basic numeracy for business. You will need a pen and paper for some of the tasks. The mini lectures have audio so you will need a computer with a soundcard and some headphones or speakers to listen to the lecture. You will also need to ensure your computer can read word files. If you don’t have word there are other applications such as word pad or note pad that can read word files.

Please start at task 1 and follow through this learning activity completing each task or choose the task that you feel is appropriate.

Task 1 - What do you think the phrase "numeracy for business" means?

Consider the phrase “numeracy for business”:

What does it mean to you? 
What do you associate with it and why?
How do you feel about numeracy?
Do you have any fears about numeracy?
What is its role in a business environment?

Make a statement about your perceptions of business numeracy

Jot your answers down on a piece of paper.  You will review your responses at the end of the session

Move onto the next task when you are ready.

Task 2 - A mini lecture considering the importance of numeracy in the workplace.

Click the link below to access the mini lecture which introduces and explores the importance and usefulness of numeracy in the workplace.  It considers the implications of poor levels of numeracy from the perspectives of both employer and employee.

Mini Lecture: Why Numeracy Matters

Move onto the next task when you are ready.

Task 3 - Undertake a basic numeracy test

It is helpful to assess your level of competency with numbers in order to be able to focus on development needs more specifically.  Click the URL below to take a basic numeracy test – there is a mini test to determine your level or you can fast track to Level 1 or Level 2.  There are 40 questions on the fast track tests and they should take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

http://www.move-on.org.uk/ilr/ft_num/welcome.asp

Having completed this test, you should have a clearer idea of aspects of your own numeracy and where you may need additional support.

Important:
Work through the rest of this learning activity by choosing from Tasks 4-7 accordingly. There is no need, unless you wish, to work through all of them in sequence.

Move onto the next task when you are ready.

Task 4 - Fractions ~ Worksheet and Quiz

The term fractions is used to describe a part or parts of something.  For example, we might have six members of staff who are each eligible to for an equal share of a £6,000 bonus payment.  Each staff member would therefore receive 1/6 of the total amount of money.  

Click the link below to access a worksheet from Loughborough University which examines techniques with basic fractions and contains an interactive quiz to help you check your understanding. 

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/fractions/resources/

Once you have completed the sheet, you may wish to download and print off a PDF copy for future reference. If so, please click the links below:

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/fractions/resources/383

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/fractions/resources/384

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/fractions/resources/385

Move onto the next task when you are ready.

Task 5 - Decimals  ~ Worksheet and Quiz

The decimal system divides whole numbers into ten parts.  A decimal number expresses parts of a whole number in tenths, hundredths and thousandths etc. If we divide a staff bonus payment equally amongst ten employees, each person would receive 0.1 (1/10 - one tenth) of the whole amount.  If we were to divide the payment between only four staff members, each person would receive 0.25 (1/4 - one quarter of the total amount).
Click the link below to access a worksheet from Loughborough University which examines techniques with basic decimals and contains an interactive quiz to help you check your understanding. 

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/decimals/resources/

Once you have completed the sheet, you may wish to download and print off a PDF copy for future reference. If so, please click the link below:

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/decimals/resources/216

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/decimals/resources/386

Move onto the next task when you are ready.

Task 6 - Percentages  ~ Worksheet and Quiz

Percentages are commonly used in the workplace - and data is often represented using them.  The term "per cent" means "out of one hundred".  A percentage is a means of showing a part of something as a fraction of 100.  If we score 56/100 in an exam, we have achieved 56%.  If we score 3/6 in a test, we have achieved 50%. 

Click the link below to access a worksheet from Loughborough University which examines techniques with basic percentages and contains an interactive quiz to help you check your understanding.   

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/percentages/resources/

The ability to calculate interest is particularly useful in the business environment as, for example, it is useful to be able to calculate the gain a company would expect on money it may invest for a certain period of time at a certain % interest.  Interest is commonly calculated in one of two ways:  simple and compound.  Click the link below to see are discussion of both methods:

Once you have completed the sheet, you may wish to download and print off a PDF copy for future reference. If so, please click the links below:

Percentages may be found at:

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/percentages/resources/214

http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/students.php/all_subjects/arithmetic/percentages/resources/387

Move onto the next task when you are ready.

Task 7 - Averages  ~ Worksheet and Quiz

Averages are usually calculated to give a typical figure from a set of data - for example, by reviewing sales figures for the past five years, it would be possible to produce an average annual sales figure.  There are three main types of average: the mean, the median and the mode.  All three methods are considered on the worksheet.

Click the link below to access a worksheet from Purple math which examines techniques with mean, median and mode.

http://www.purplemath.com/modules/meanmode.htm

Complete the short test at ProProfs quiz school by clicking the link below

http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=test-mean-median-mode-range

Task 8 - Data Handling Exercise

This exercise invites you to present some data in graphical format using Excel spreadsheet. Click the link below to access the worksheet.

Explanatory Notes

Firstly, read the explanatory notes on the worksheet.

Then having done this, click on the link (below) to the data sheet in Excel. You will see a simple set of data of products purchased from a supermarket.  Column A lists a number of popular items.  Column B gives the numbers of each item sold.  Your task is to present the data in a bar graph and pie chart formats. 

Data Sheet

In common with other spreadsheets, Excel offers a step-by-step wizard to guide you through the process of creating charts and graphs.   To start the wizard, you can either click on the Chart Wizard button on the toolbar or click on Insert, then Chart.  Follow the instructions and options given by the wizard.

Once you have had a go at completing this task click here for some feedback.

Task 9 - Numerical Reasoning Test

Many organisations utilise Numerical Reasoning Tests as part of their recruitment process.  These tests can seem very complicated and challenging at first sight, however, the more you practice, the more straightforward they become.  Follow the URL below to take a sample numerical reasoning test.

http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/tests/mathstest.htm

Move onto the next task when you are ready

Task 10 - Review Task 1 and Reflect on your Learning

Now, return to the notes you made for Task 1.  Re-read your original thoughts and consider how your answers may have changed.  You may find it useful to re-visit the questions to check your understanding of the topic areas covered in these tasks.

Here are the questions again:

"Consider the phrase “numeracy for business”:

What does it mean to you? 
What do you associate with it and why?
How do you feel about numeracy?
Do you have any fears about numeracy?
What is its role in a business environment?

Make a statement about your perceptions of business numeracy"

Review your statement having worked through the exercises - has it changed?

Further Resources

There are many resources available to further develop what you may already know about numeracy for business. As a starting point follow up the suggested resources listed below.

Booth, D.J., (1995) Maths Made Easy, Chapman Hall, London

Bancroft G., (1988) Maths and statistics for accounting and business studies 2nd Edition, McGraw Hill, Maidenhead

Musgrove, R., (1986) Core Skills in Numeracy, Nelson Thornes Ltd, Cheltenham

Tilley, M.R., (1978) Business Maths and Statistics, Edward Arnold, London

http://www.math.com/

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