Critical Numeracy in the media

Topics: Critical thinking, Question, Numeracy Pages: 10 (2582 words) Published: September 23, 2013
Critical numeracy is the ability to make decisions about everyday issues that involve mathematical concepts (Watson, 2008). The approach to prove the importance of critical numeracy was based on selected articles which were used to critically analyse percentage. Watson (2004) suggests a three-tiered hierarchy of goals for developing the quantitative literacy skills. These tiers suggest increasing movement away from pure mathematical skills into context and then into critical thinking (Watson, 2004). By designing a set of questions for each article according to the hierarchy it led participants to think using 3- tiers of critical numeracy.

Tier 1
The first tier of Framework is the understanding of basic terminology (Watson, 2008).

Article 1: Holidays at Home Appeal

1. A third of Tasmanians are choosing to holiday in Tasmania. Can you write 1/3 in % form ? Answer
P.1 - 33%
P.2 - 33%

2. Using a Bar model can you colour in 34%? What would fraction look like? Answer
0% 100%

34/100 = 17/50

0% 100%
34/100 = 17/50

Both participants were clearly able to show their knowledge of basic terminology. They were both able to show the relationship between percentage and fractions and draw a bar model correctly shading 34 %.

Article 2: Avon Advertisement

1. In week one 100% of women show improvement in skin texture What is the 100% of ?

P.1 34/34
P.2 34
Both of the participants were able to understand where the value of 100% came from. They were able to show a clear understanding of the link to part-whole based on assumptions that 100% is always a whole (Watson, 2011).

Tier 2
Next set of questions focused on tier 2 of the Framework . Learning must take place in what is called the second tier of Framework for Critical Numeracy and that is the understanding of terminology in context, especially in social contexts ( Watson, 2008).

Article 1: Holidays at Home Appeal

1. If 39% of Tasmanians would like to holiday in Western Australia, 23% in Northern Territory and 15% in South Australia, what percent of Tasmania’s prefer the remaining states?

In this section both of the participants showed no problem working out the solution. They displayed their knowledge of percent being over 100.

Article 2: Avon Advertising

1. Why is the seller using percentage (%) value to represent the results?

P.1 - Comes across more successful. If % high, people more likely to purchase P.2 - It is more convincing

In this section the aim was to test participants understanding of the percentage in the context of the advertisement. Both participants had similar answers to the question, they agreed that the advertiser used percentage as a way of making the product appealing to consumers and guarantee its success. However participants failed to question the exact use of % which would have fit into critical thinking. What I was focusing on was their understanding of why they use % instead of numbers. Sometimes writers tend to divert readers from the actual values by using percent so that the result looks more engaging.

Tier 3

The last set of questions focused on the 3rd tier hierarchy. Third tier of the Framework is developing the ability to think critically in context and to question claims that are made without proper justification (Watson, 2008).

Article 1: Holidays at Home Appeal

1. Considering Tasmania, Queensland and ACT, NSW and Victoria are not represented do you believe the results of this survey are correct? Why/ Why not? Answer
P.1 No
P.2 No all states need to be involved

The first participant answered ‘No’ to this question failing to elaborate why it was incorrect. The second participant was able to answer the question correctly, however it was not in depth and I was looking for more than one factor...

References: Watson, J. 2011, ‘Lecture 1 Notes: Personal and Professional Numeracy’, 25 February
Watson, M
Watson, M.J. ( 2004), Quantitative Literacy in The Media An Arena for Problem Solving, University of Tasmania, AAMT, p.15
Numeracy in The News
Watson, M.J. (2008). National Literacy and Numeracy Week : Critical Numeracy In Context. University of Tasmania. Retrieved from
Holiday At Home Appeal
Avon Australia,(2010). Anew Ultimate Age Repair Day Cream SPF 15, Retrieved from
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