Contexts for becoming numerate in the 21st century

Nicola Jill YELLAND

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


This paper draws on data from a three-year study that examined the ways in which young children become numerate in the 21st century. The aim of the project was to examine authentic problem solving contexts that enabled meaningful learning. This being so, the basic tenet was that such experiences should involve the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) where relevant, but not in tokenistic ways. It considers optimal learning conditions for young children to become numerate in contemporary times. It describes ùacademicû or ùschool basedû mathematical tasks in the context of a Mathematics Task Continuum (Yelland, 2005). This continuum was conceptualised to enable focused and detailed thinking about the scope and range of mathematical tasks that young children are able to engage within contemporary school contexts. The data from this study show that most of the tasks the children experienced in early years mathematics classes were unidimensional in their make up. That is, they focus on the acquisition of specific skills and then they are practiced in dis-embedded contexts. The framework created in the form of the Mathematical Tasks Continuum can facilitate teachersû thinking about the possible ways in which they could extend childrenûs academic work in school mathematics, so that the process of becoming numerate becomes more easily related to authentic activities that they are likely to experience in everyday life and include the appropriate use of ICT.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Yelland, N. (2009, September). Contexts for becoming numerate in the 21st century. Paper presented at the International Conference on Educational Research (ICER) 2009: Learning Community for Sustainable Development, Khon Kaen University, Thailand.


  • Numeracy
  • Mathematics education using ICT for learning


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