Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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Volume 51 Issue 2 (June 1978), Pages 119-207

The numerical abilities of industrial trainee apprentices (pages 163-176)

Three tests were devised to assess in some depth elementary numerical abilities in a sample of 95 industrial trainee apprentices many of whom had passed CSE mathematics. The tests covered basic aspects of a variety of topics, including arithmetic manipulation of natural numbers, decimals and fractions; approximation; magnitude; ratio; and percentage. The results supported the following general conclusions: (i) arithmetic with natural numbers was performed relatively well, but decimals and especially fractions were performed badly; (ii) there were elementary conceptual difficulties with decimals and fractions, which were compounded in the case of fractions by difficulties of selecting and applying special rules during manipulation; (iii) proficiency in natural number arithmetic was not strongly associated with ability in other basic skills; (iv) frequency of pocket calculator usage as assessed by questionnaire was not significantly related to performance in any of the tests. These results have implications for both the selection and training of school‐leavers. It is also suggested that the tests themselves may be useful for the assessment and diagnosis of basic numeracy.

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