Literacy and numeracy in the Humanities

Within this post we will be examining a fictional student whom has had difficulties within a year 10 Geography classroom, the case study is as follows:

  • Student performs below National Minimum Standard (NMS) in all aspects of NAPLAN
  • Student is achieving below a ‘C’ standard in all subjects except HPE
  • Student attends school-based tutoring/homework club two afternoons a week
  • The parent makes regular contact with the school to track progress and seek strategies to support at home
  • The student lacks confidence in higher order thinking tasks, and prefers comprehension and understanding activities
  • The student is especially hesitant in writing extended pieces, although often has good ideas for what could be included

Firstly, lets identify the major issues surrounding the student. The student is performing below the standard in all aspects of NAPLAN, achieving a below C standard in all subjects besides HPE, lack of confidence in high order thinking and is hesitant when writing extended pieces.

Secondly, measures being taken to aid this student are tutoring sessions two afternoons a week and parental check-ups on the student’s progress.

Issues to be addressed for the student:

  • Raising the student’s numeracy and literacy understanding and capabilities within Geography
  • Working with the student to scaffold their ability to engage, understand and complete high order thinking questions
  • Identify new ways in which the student can undertake extended written pieces

Major skills involved within Geography regarding literacy and numeracy.

  • Literacy: listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts.
  • counting and measuring, constructing and interpreting tables and graphs, calculating and interpreting statistics and using statistical analysis to test relationships between variables. In constructing and interpreting maps, students work with numerical concepts of grids, scale, distance, area and projections.
    (“Geography: General capabilities – The Australian Curriculum v7.5”, n.d.)
  • To begin the process of helping the student a one on one session discussing the issue should be undertaken. This will make the student aware of the situation and what will be done to aid them.

Regarding literacy help, strategies to aid the student within the aspect of high order thinking would be that of easing the student into whole class questioning through simplifying and helping the student come to conclusions. By implementing this the student is less likely to feel anxious and lack self-confidence. Engaging the student within small groups with other students may also be effective in their development.

Teacher vision’s article ‘Questions Before, During, and After Reading’ (“Questions Before, During, and After Reading”, n.d.) describes how student comprehension of text is greatly enhanced when questioning takes place before, during and after experiencing forms of literature, questions such as ‘why am I reading this, why is it important and where can I use this information? This will allow the student to be able to decipher text in a way that seems them benefiting from reading.

In terms of the extended writing aspect of the student’s issues creating variations to the assessment will allow the student to be able to complete the task. Ritchert (Richert, 2016) writes about different methods of how to undertake these alterations. Methods such as allowing the student to type instead of writing, time limit extension, allow the student to give answers orally, making paragraphs topics for the student and requesting the student write one paragraph per page as to separate the assessment into smaller portions.

Numeracy skills within Geography are much like that of mathematics, some examples include: numbers, scale, graphs, data, temperatures, percentages, ratios and co-ordinates (Jepson, 2014). For our case study student, strategies that may aid them in improving could be that of peer teaching coupled with one on one classroom help from the teacher.

Simplifying numeracy figures and problems within activities for the student will help them understand the various aspects of the item. As an example, a map with many figures displayed may make the student feel overwhelmed and limit their ability to find the relevant information, by simplifying it we reduce the amount of data on the map whilst still being challenging for the student.

Geography: General capabilities – The Australian Curriculum v7.5. Retrieved 29 August 2016, from

Jepson, L. (2014). Geographical Association – Numeracy and geography. Retrieved 29 August 2016, from

Questions Before, During, and After Reading. TeacherVision. Retrieved 29 August 2016, from

Richert, K. (2016). How To: Accommodate Students With Writing Disabilities. Teaching. Retrieved 29 August 2016, from



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