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Mobiles, Skills & Confidence with Numbers: attitudinal support and accessibility

10 Sep 2020

By Ben Perkins

This blog is part of a series exploring key themes of the Mobiles, Skills & Confidence with Numbers project from Ufi VocTech Trust and National Numeracy. We are seeking to make numeracy skills-building more accessible to those who lack time, confidence and computer access, and are blogging about the project’s key themes as we work.

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Helping the nation feel good about maths through our online numeracy resource

At National Numeracy we know that confidence, attitudes and mindset are at the heart of success in maths. We use a unique psychological approach in all the work we do. We have had particular success in helping adults overcome maths anxiety in our face-to-face workshops, delivered through employers. The objective of one strand of this project is to extend attitudinal support to the general public who access the National Numeracy Challenge.

Why are our thoughts and feelings about maths so important?

Many people have very negative associations of maths. Lots of people feel anxious, stressed or nervous when faced with numbers. Others believe they are simply not a maths person and that they cannot improve their skills.

Often, this makes it understandable that people trying to improve their numeracy end up avoiding it altogether, give up part way through or lose confidence. We aim to help as many people as possible overcome these feelings so that they can unlock their potential.

Most maths resources rely simply on skills teaching without understanding the emotive barriers that many adults experience. Whilst we know that changing people’s minds about maths without human contact is difficult, with our expertise we are determined to find the best way to do that.

Why is doing this digitally important?

We are very proud of the impact our confidence building workshops have had on shifting peoples thoughts away from “I can’t do maths” towards being willing to take the first steps in their learning journey.

However, with maths anxiety and poor numeracy skills so widespread across the population, these workshops can’t reach everyone who can benefit from the support they provide. In order to extend our social impact and help as many people as possible, it is important that we find ways to support all Challenge users.

Digital methods also allow us to introduce confidence building support throughout a learner’s journey as well as before they start. We know the importance of attitudes in sticking with maths learning – and therefore being able to present people with support as they work through is important to help people keep going. 

Early progress in changing attitudes digitally

Even before this project, we had made the first major step into integrating a focus on mindsets into our resource. Everyone who registers on the site tells us how they feel about maths and how confident they are. Learners are then presented with a video which shows lots of people feel similarly to them about maths but can still improve. It helps us to show all our learners that however they feel about maths, they are not alone.

In this project we will be able to extend this support, improve the experience and provide bespoke confidence building content to match the needs of different types of learner. To do this most effectively so we are undertaking significant research to best understand how we can support those with the lowest confidence. We are currently seeking to answer key questions which will help us deliver the best results:

  • What are the most important messages and content which will help adults improve their confidence and attitudes?
  • How is this content best presented? What type of resources would work best for our learners?
  • When is confidence support most needed and how can we present it to our learners at the right time?

We have an array of exciting ideas planned over the coming months to update the National Numeracy Challenge and offer a unique learning journey for those with the lowest confidence with numbers.

Start improving your numeracy – register on the National Numeracy Challenge now!

National Numeracy has developed an online tool to help you improve your numeracy and boost your confidence. This interactive website is free to use at home, at work or on the move. You can assess your current level of numeracy – completely anonymously – and then begin an online journey to getting the Essentials of Numeracy.