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Key skills: making a difference
Key skills: making a difference

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7.3.1 Identify opportunities for using number skills

Where and how will you use numerical and mathematical skills over the next 3–4 months? You may need to gather numerical information from different sources, form hypotheses about the information carried by the data, carry out statistical tests to check your hypotheses and then present your results and interpretations. Or you may be working with mathematical models (for example in engineering, environmental or financial applications) and need to understand and use formulas expressing relationships between different quantities, to be able to make predictions or forecasts. Spend some time thinking about your study or work requirements and what opportunities you will have or can create to develop your number skills.

Identifying just what your course or work practice will require and what you will need to focus on can be quite a complex process, so don't be discouraged if you find it difficult. At work you may be able to discuss requirements with colleagues or your manager. On a course you can refer to the aims and outcomes to identify what you are expected to know and be able to do. In an assignment, there may be particular criteria you are expected to meet in order to be successful.

It is unlikely that you will be able to identify and pin down all the opportunities to use number skills right at the beginning of your course or work activities. New ideas will probably occur as you go along and you may come back to modify and adapt your strategy several times as your work progresses. This is fine – plans should be flexible and responsive as circumstances change. Discussing your ideas with others (such as your tutor, manager, other students or colleagues at work) can be helpful in identifying those aspects of key skills you need to work on.

Time out

Make a list of those numerical and mathematical skills you will need. What will you be using those skills for, and when will you need them?