7.4 Developing a strategy
7.4.1 Plan your use of number skills and select methods
Exploring and planning an activity often results in a number of different options, possibilities and ways forward. Some approaches will be more feasible or will interest you more than others. At this stage you need to think about how you will be using your number skills and how you will assess the overall quality of your work.
Review the skills you will need to achieve your goals and the criteria you will use to check that you have achieved them. Opportunities and constraints to do with your level of personal expertise, availability of resources, access limitations, work patterns, health and safety issues, social, ethical and moral concerns may all influence your plans.
If you intend to set up and test statistical hypotheses or make calculations, you will need to select methods for collecting and processing data that are valid and effective for the circumstances, and be able to justify your selection. If you are using a mathematical model, you should be able to explain and justify the set of conditions for which the model is valid. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the numerical and mathematical methods you plan to use?
Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available and set yourself some deadlines. Remember that plans are guidelines against which you can check progress, but also that all plans are based on assumptions about the future. Keep your plans under review and be prepared to modify them if circumstances change or if your assumptions don't work out. Don't forget to record your decisions, plans and actions in your Skills File.
What numerical and mathematical methods do you plan to use, and how you will use them? Go back to any plans you have made and check that they are still relevant, up to date and realistic.
Activity: Developing your number skills strategy
For this activity you will need to print out the Skills Sheet, ‘Developing your strategy’: click here to open it.
Outline a strategy for developing and improving your number skills by focusing on the following questions. In developing your number skills:
What do you hope to achieve?
What opportunities do you have for practising, improving and demonstrating your skills?
What resources, including help and advice from others, can you draw on?
How do you intend to achieve your goals and outcomes, and what timetable have you set yourself? Include dates of any relevant assignments you intend to submit.
Make brief notes:
justifying why you have chosen your goals;
indicating the constraints – or your own styles and preferences for learning – which may influence the way you learn and improve your skills.
Refer to the figure below for an example of a completed Skills Sheet for this stage of the key skills framework.