quantitative literacy, teacher education, integrated curriculum, statistics, mathematics, chemistry, electronics, marketing


The purpose of this article is to describe a hands-on, laboratory activity that provided pre-service teachers in mathematics and science methods courses, and also some in-service mathematics teachers, with the opportunity to exercise quantitative literacy (QL) skills. The focus of the activity is electrical resistance, more particularly the resistance (in ohms) that is painted on small resistors by the use of color-coded bands, one of which is a band for % error. The activity consists of four parts. In the first, student teams familiarize themselves with the code, measure the ohmage of resistors for which the codes are visible, and compare their measurements with the labels. In the second part of the activity, the teams measure the ohmage of many resistors—all from the same batch—on which the code bands have been covered. In the third part, they decide what statistics to use to determine the code bands that should be on their resistors, make poster presentations of their predictions, and then compare their predictions with the actual label. At the end of the third part of the activity, the student teams discover that their predictions do not match the labels, and they are placed in a cognitive conflict. In the fourth part of the activity—the QL part—they integrate what they have learned about the nano-, micro-, and macroscopic structure of resistors and the statistical measures that they used with what they can find out about marketing practices to present a written argument explaining the discrepancy. Pre- and post-tests show that students learn statistical and resistor material associated with the activity, and qualitative assessment of their written explanations of the discrepancy show that students had various levels of success at integrating their mathematical understanding with the science and business context of this measurement activity.



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Numeracy 3(1) Article 6 Appendix A.pdf (111 kB)
Appendix A: Lesson Plan

Numeracy 3(1) Aarticle 6 Appendix B.pdf (228 kB)
Appendix B: Student Handout