Math requirements to perform selected occupations

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to determine the mathematics levels commonly used in the performance of four selected occupations. This was compared to the mathematics levels generally required during the education and training for these selected occupations. The four occupations selected for this inquiry were: (1) family practice physician (2) finance officer (3) electronics technician and (4) machinist.

A survey instrument was created to ascertain formal mathematical preparation of those working in the selected occupations along with the frequency, importance and use of 60 progressive math topics from the secondary and postsecondary curriculum. A purposive sample of approximately sixty individuals from each of the four occupations participated by completing the questionnaire. Demographic information was collected from each of the participants in order to construct a descriptive profile. Along with the survey, two members of each occupation were interviewed to gain additional insight for the study.

A consistent use of basic math, such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing was being used in all four occupations. Both family practice physicians and finance officers reported using basic math as their primary application level of math on the job. The results of this investigation suggests that the two professional occupations, family practice physician and finance officer, did not use in their jobs the higher math levels they were required to study during their education and training. Conversely, the two technical occupations, electronics technician and machinist, did apply the higher level of mathematics they previously studied in the performance of their duties. Interviews with two members of each occupation supported these findings.

Our present educational system is not meeting the needs of a majority of the students it serves. As a result students are leaving school not prepared for future jobs; employers tell us many are not even prepared for today's jobs. This study examined the connection of the educational mathematics requirements of four selected occupations and the mathematics used to practice these occupations. The results of this study provide relevant information that can be used by educational institutions in the preparation of individuals for careers.



mathematics, preparation, technical, requirements, occupational