Examining Problem-Solving Skills in Technology-Rich Environments as Related to Numeracy
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Today, technologies are rapidly changing living and working environments and bringing about non-traditional problems in personal and professional life. The realm of academics and education is not exempt from these non-traditional problems. In the US today, problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments have been viewed as critical and necessary to daily life, including to education and various careers. In the US, low problem-solving proficiency among students requires immediate attention by educators. Fostering problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments is a main object of all levels of education in many countries. There is a dearth of studies focusing especially on adults' problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments. The purpose of this study is to analyze the impact of literacy and numeracy on problem-solving skills, providing a model that conceptualizes relationships among adult’s problem-solving skills, literacy, and numeracy. This study is novel in that it extends the extant literature with its focus on real-world problems that are germane to technology-rich environments. The data used in this study were drawn from PIAAC US data, which includes 5010 completed cases and 1326 variables. Participants’ background information (e.g., income, education, and learning strategies) was collected by interviews. The assessments of literacy and numeracy competencies and problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments were tested using computer-based approaches. This study compared three completing models. The results indicate the following: 1. With control of educational background, income, and age, time that was spent on literacy- and numeracy- related tasks negatively affected problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments. The participants who spent less time on literacy- and numeracy-tasks, regardless of their educational background, income and age, had higher problem-solving skills, compared to the participants who needed more time. 2. With control of educational background, income and age, literacy and numeracy accuracy positively affected problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments. Despite their educational background, income and age, participants with a high level of accuracy tended to have higher problem-solving skills, compared to those with a low level of accuracy.