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Develop numeracy skills in accounting

Numeracy is the ability to understand numbers and calculations.

For students to be considered numerate they need to combine mathematical, contextual, and strategic know-how to develop and communicate ideas and information.

Students become numerate as they develop the capacity to recognise and understand the role of mathematics in the world around them and the confidence, willingness, and ability to apply mathematics to their lives in ways that are constructive and meaningful.

In accounting numeracy plays a vital role when students gather information and data, and make calculations to work through problems and communicate information with supporting evidence.

All teachers have a role to play in helping to develop students' numeracy skills. It is, therefore, important that accounting teachers identify how to support students to develop numeracy skills in a way that fits with the content of the accounting curriculum.

Teacher actions

Support students to understand that accuracy and transparency are required in all calculations that accountants undertake.

Help them to:

  • use estimation to check the accuracy of calculations, so is an answer of $34, 883 on my calculator sensible when I am trying to find the gross profit when income was $36, 870 and costs were $19,876? A quick estimation in my head $36,000-$20, 000 = $16000 tells me I have entered something wrong and to try again
  • set out calculations in a logical, systematic way so that anybody could understand the process followed and working can be checked
  • use basic numeracy operations (how to add, subtract, multiply and divide) and when to use each operation
  • use basic mathematical notation and vocabulary, for example: for fractions ¾ means 3 divided into 4 equal parts
  • 56% means 56 percent or 56 per 100 or 56/100.

Identify the numeracy capabilities and needs of students and implement strategies that build on strengths and develop areas of need.

Give students the opportunity to test their understanding and ability to use skills so that any gaps can be addressed.

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Last updated January 30, 2012