Adults, Mathematics and Work

From Research into Practice

Adults use mathematics extensively in work even though they may deny it or dismiss their numerate behaviour as common sense. Their capacity for mathematics is invisible to them and confirms their ‘non-maths person’ self-perception, which has negative consequences for their life choices. In Adults, Mathematics and Work, the authors tackle and explain a number of paradoxes related to the curious relationship between adults and mathematics. It operationalises the benefits of workplace doctoral research by providing a set of the tools to review this mistaken self-perception in order to make workers’ abilities available for development. It also provides a systematic way of uncovering and recognising informal and non-formal learning to support employability and re-employability in an increasingly fluid work-landscape.
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Biographical Note

John J. Keogh, PhD (2013), after a 30 year career in Shipping, now lectures in Mathematics and Statistics. His research interest is mathematics in work and he published Work Based Learning in the Further Education & Training Sector (Keogh, 2016).

Theresa Maguire, PhD (2003), University of Limerick, has a lifelong passion for adult mathematics education. She has worked with the National Awards Council and at the academic/employer interface. She is currently Director of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

John O’Donoghue, PhD (1978), University of Loughborough, UK, is Emeritus Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Limerick, Ireland. He has served as chair of Adults Learning Mathematics -- A Research Forum, and contributed to various publications in adult mathematics/numeracy including journal articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings.

Table of contents

Diana Coben
List of Figures and Tables

Chapter 1: Introduction: What This Book Is about
 Guide to Structure of the Book

Chapter 2: Adults Using Mathematics in the Workplace: It’s Not Mathematics, It’s Just Common Sense; Part of the Job
 Cultural Historical Activity Theory
 Invisible Mathematics in the Workplace

Chapter 3: Identifying and Measuring Mathematics Invisibility in the Workplace: Stripping away the Layers That Hide What a Person Knows about Mathematics
 Survey Methodology
 Measuring Mathematics Capability
 Measuring Mathematics Capability in the Workplace
 Numerate Behaviour
 Workplace Exploratory Tools
 Job-shadowing Case Studies
 Impact of Mathematics Invisibility

Chapter 4: Broadening the Scope: Design and Key Findings of the National Survey of People at Work
 Characterisation of Workplace Mathematics in the Workplace
 Frequency of Numerate Behaviour
 Quantity and Number
 Shape and Space and Pattern and Relationship
 Data Handling and Chance

Chapter 5: Job Shadowing: Four Case Studies of People Engaged in Their Job
 Job Shadowing People at Work
 Case Study Host Company A
 Research Host Company B
 Case Study 1 Rob
 Case Study 2 Jim
 Case Study 3 ‘Laura’
 Case Study 4 ‘M’
 Mathematics Invisibility in the Workplace
 A Workplace Contextualisation of Mathematics
 Workplace Context-Complexity Protocol

Chapter 6: From Research into Practice: How to Bring the Benefit of Research to Learners
 Extended NFQ Illustrated
 Extended NFQ – Case Study 1
 Extended NFQ – Case Study 2
 Extended NFQ – Case Study 3
 Extended NFQ – Case Study 4
 Recruitment Dichotomy
 Implications: Learners, Curriculum, Tutors, Policy, Standards & RPL
 Research Instruments Modified for Practical Implementation
 How This Approach Works
 Why Does It Matter?



All of those interested in adult education in general and mathematics education in particular, including learners, teachers, researchers, policy makers, curriculum developers, recruiters, change managers, and work placement specialists.