NCALE (Vocational)

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Unit standard 21204: Element 1 - Describe adult literacy in Aotearoa New Zealand, including in relation to the training or education programme.


Content and Learning

Describe what it means to be literate and numerate in today‟s society, identify reasons for low literacy and numeracy levels in the adult population and describe initiatives for adult literacy provision.


Suggested teaching and learning activity 1

See Teaching Adults to Read With Understanding, page 54:

Selecting relevant information (adapted activity)

Purpose: to identify reasons for and implications of low level of literacy.

Using two given texts, create a list of reasons why there are low levels of literacy and numeracy in our adult population. Sort the list into socio-cultural reasons and personal reasons. Discuss the implications of the two lists for understanding who has responsibility for responding to the issue.


Suggested teaching and learning activity 3

Brainstorm to explore the meaning of numeracy

Readings about current definitions and theories on what it means to be numerate

Purpose: to explore the meaning of numeracy. In small groups, brainstorm everything to do with number or spatial thinking that learners have encountered since they woke up. Draw out less obvious contexts, such as a petrol gauge, that have underpinning numeracy concepts (fractions), but don‟t explicitly use numbers. Use the results to develop a definition for numerate behaviour that includes more than the ability to „do arithmetic‟. Compare the group definition with that used in the Learning Progressions.


Suggested assessment activity 1


Compare and contrast two forms of local literacy and numeracy provision. Include their historical and planned development, their target audience and their unique response and the effects of recent policy changes on their provision (limit: 1500 words).


Suggested assessment activity 3

Reflective journal

See Teaching Adults to Write, page 43: Concept Circles.

Read, reflect and report on relevant published research articles. Adapt the activity to focus on making connections between concepts and ideas, then reflecting on them to arrive at own interpretations.


Suggested teaching and learning activity 2

See Teaching Adults to Write to Communicate, page 33:

Using templates and acronyms

Purpose: to use a paragraph-writing structure to generate summaries of articles.

In small groups, use discussion acronym PPQ (Point, Paraphrase, Quote) to generate paragraphs based on group article readings on the changing demands of literacy and numeracy in the workplace. Share paragraphs with whole group. Discuss changing demands of workplaces. Analyse use of acronym to structure and support writing.


Suggested teaching and learning activity 4

Continuums and Timelines

Exploring attitudes to maths/numeracy and the impact on numeracy learning. Also exploring the implications of changing numeracy demands in the workplace.

Purpose: to identify personal attitudes to numeracy.

  • Use continuum activities to explore personal attitudes and experiences around numeracy, eg,: hate numbers - love numbers; don‟t feel very competent - feel very competent.
  • Create a personal timeline from birth to present to express changing feelings about maths over time. The horizontal axis represents time, perhaps by decade, and the vertical axis represents a scale from -10 (awful) to 0 (neutral) to +10 (excellent). Discuss the impact of different or changing work demands on feelings towards math.

Suggested assessment activity 2


See Teaching Adults to Listen/Speak, activity 14: Using notes to speak. (Adapted activity)

Prepare notes and make a 15 minute oral and visual presentation to a local company management board on implications of changing literacy and numeracy demands in the workplace.

Recommended resources

  • Timeline of New Zealand's Adult and Maori Literacy Initiatives
  • Ashcraft, M. H., & Kirk, E. P. (2001). “The relationships among working memory, math anxiety, and performance.”
  • Benseman, J., & Sutton, A. (Eds.). (2008). Facing the Challenge.
  • Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Cavanagh, T. & Teddy, L. (2007). Te Kotahitanga Phase 3 Whanaungatanga
  • Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Tiakiwai, S., & Richardson, C. (2003). Te Kotahitanga: The experiences of Year 9 and 10 Māori students in mainstream classrooms.
  • Bynner,J. & Parsons,S. (2005). “Does numeracy matter more?” Most people recognise that low literacy levels make it difficult to function in adult life but it is often assumed that numeracy is less important than literacy. This study was designed to test whether this is in fact the case.
  • Durie, M. (1998). Whaiora: Māori Health Development.
  • Hill, K. (1990). This Fragile Web: An informal history of the adult literacy movement in New Zealand 1974-1988.
  • History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. (n.d.) “History of the Māori Language – Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.”
  • Looney, J. (2008). Teaching, learning and assessment for adults. Improving foundation skills. This book contains a background chapter on NZ that could also be used in US21191.
  • Manly, M. (2008, May).”Numeracy matters.” This brief article summarises the ideas explored in depth in “Does numeracy matter more?”.
  • Māori Adult Literacy Reference Group. (2001). “Te Kawai Ora. Reading the world, reading the word, being the world.”
  • Pere, R. R. (1991). Te Wheke: A Celebration of Infinite Wisdom
  • Pihama, L., K, S., Taki, M., & Lee, J. (2004). “A literature review on kaupapa Māori and Māori education pedagogy.”
  • Porima, L. (2006). “Understanding the needs of Māori learners for the effective use of eLearning.”
  • Sharples, P., Dr (2006 and 2007). “Boys in Education”; “The power of „and‟.”
  • Tangaere, A.R. (1997). “Māori human development theory”.
  • Tertiary Education Commission. (2008a). Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy and Numeracy: Background Information.
  • Tertiary Education Commission. (2008j). Literacy, Language and Numeracy Action Plan 2008-2012.
  • Wevers, L. (1997). “Reading and literacy.”

Performance criteria

1.1 Description includes an outline of the development of adult literacy initiatives that relate to learners in the programme.

1.2 Description includes a comparison of three adult literacy definitions currently used in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Range definitions to include one for Māori, one for integrated literacy, and one other.

1.3 Description includes a discussion of reasons for low adult literacy levels in Aotearoa New Zealand.

1.4 Description includes a discussion of implications of low adult literacy levels in Aotearoa New Zealand.

1.5 Description includes identification of literacy resources appropriate and relevant to learners within the programme.

1.6 Two adult literacy specialist organisations are identified, their services are described, and their contribution to the programme is outlined.

1.7 Description includes an outline of Māori literacy to the present.

Range outline includes but is not limited to – Māori literacy pre-colonisation, Māori literacy initiatives and issues post-colonisation.

This page links to:

National Certificate in Adult Literacy Education