Numeracy glossary

This page includes definitions used in the Mathematics Teaching Toolkit relating to numeracy.

For detailed definitions and examples of mathematical vocabulary see: the Victorian Curriculum Mathematics Glossary

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    Additive strategies are the use of known addition facts to solve addition problems.



    Algebra involves a study of pattern and the prediction of further outcomes.


    Algorithms are a well-defined set of instructions designed to perform a particular task or solve a type of problem.

    Authentic tasks

    Authentic tasks are activities that require the application of knowledge, skills and resources to respond to everyday contexts and situations.


    Chance (Probability)

    Chance refers to exploring the likelihood of events using experimental and theoretical approaches. Probability refers to the attribution of a numeric value to an outcome.


    Coding is the syntax that allows a certain script or program to work.

    Cognitive load

    Cognitive load refers to how much information can be processed at any one time.

    Collaborative learning

    Collaborative learning occurs when students work together in small groups with everyone participating in and contributing to the learning task.


    Commutative operations yield the same result regardless of the order of two elements. For example, a+b=b+a and a x b = b x a


    Developing number sense

    Number sense refers to the ability to understand numbers and the relationships between numbers; enabling the solving of mathematical problems.

    Differentiated learning

    Differentiated teaching extends the knowledge and skills of every student at their starting point. It recognises student differences and provides appropriate challenge for all students.


    Early Years Planning Cycle

    The Early Years Planning Cycle refers to a model that early childhood professionals use to collect and interpret evidence that contributes to a detailed, up-to-date, strengths-based picture of children’s learning and development to inform planning and practice decisions.

    Explicit teaching

    Explicit teaching involves showing students what is required, explaining what is to be learnt, using examples, and providing opportunities for practice and mastery of new knowledge.

    Exploring patterns and relationships

    Patterns and relationships refer to the ability to identify a pattern and recognise the properties that created that pattern in order to extend or create new patterns.


    Exploring chance and data

    Exploring chance and data refers to the process of understanding likelihood, probability and the representation and analysis of data.



    Feedback is the exchange of information that captures and informs progress towards a learning goal.


    Fluency describes the choosing of appropriate procedures; carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently and appropriately; and recalling factual knowledge and concepts readily.



    Geometry refers to the study of the properties of objects in space.


    High Impact Teaching Strategies

    High Impact Teaching Strategies provide teachers and teams with the opportunity to observe, reflect, and improve classroom practice.


    Inquiry-based learning

    Inquiry-based learning is an open-ended approach that focuses on a solving a particular problem or answering a central issue through questions, research, and curiosity.



    Mathematics is the study of function and pattern in number, logic, space and structure, and of randomness, chance, variability and uncertainty in data and events.


    Measurement refers to the study of quantities, choosing appropriate metric units of measurement and building an understanding of the connections between units.

    Metacognitive strategies

    Metacognitive strategies are methods, processes and routines used to assist students understand the way they learn.


    Mathematical modelling involves using various approaches to represent real-world situations in such a way that reduces a problem to its essential characteristics.

    Multiple exposures

    Multiple exposures offers students multiple opportunities to access new knowledge and concepts over time to promote deep learning. Multiple exposures are planned, sequential and utilise different activities and practice.

    Multiplicative thinking

    Multiplicative thinking is an ability to recognise and work flexibly with the concepts, strategies and representations of multiplication (and division) as they occur in a wide range of contexts.



    Number refers to the way in which we quantify, measure and label our environment.


    Numeracy refers to the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that students need in order to use mathematics in everyday situations.

    Numeracy focus

    Numeracy focus involves the application of mathematical ideas to interpret the world around you.




    Play-based learning

    Play-based learning refers to a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they actively engage with people, objects and representations.

    Problem-based learning

    Problem-based learning (PBL) is a teaching method that provides a structure for discovery that helps students internalise learning through exploring problems.


    Problem-solving is the ability of students to apply existing strategies to seek solutions and verify that the answers are reasonable.


    Programming is the logical use of tools/steps to achieve an outcome.


    Programming is the logical use of tools/steps to achieve an outcome.



    Questioning probes learning and promotes interest and curiosity by generating dialogue aimed at extending and refining understanding.



    Reasoning refers to students developing a capacity for logical thought and action and an ability to explain their thinking.

    Reflective prompt

    A reflective prompt is a question or instruction requiring a person to revisit past actions and make judgements about those experiences.



    Sequencing, in coding terms, is the process of putting algorithm steps in the correct order.

    Setting goals

    Goal setting involves the application of prior knowledge to differentiate learning, set the learning purpose and explain what success will look like.


    Statistics is a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.

    Structuring lessons

    Structuring lessons are specific steps and routines to optimise time on task, maintain engagement, and make clear connections between goals and assessment.


    Teaching and Learning Cycle

    The Victorian teaching and learning cycle consists of five major components: Use student data; Identify learning goals; Plan; Teach; Assess. It encourages collaboration among principals, school leaders, teachers, students and parents/carers in effective learning communities to improve learning outcomes for students.



    Mathematical understanding refers to students ability to identify the relationship between the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of mathematics and the ability to describe their thinking.


    Understanding and using geometric properties and spatial reasoning

    Understanding and using geometric properties and spatial reasoning involves visualising, describing and analysing the way shapes and objects are combined and positioned in the environment for different purposes.


    Understanding, estimating, and using measurement

    Understanding, estimating, and using measurement refers to the ability to make appropriate choices when quantifying the world, including the choice of units, accuracy and understanding the relationships between measures.

    Using proportional reasoning

    Using proportional reasoning involves operating with decimals, fractions, percentages, ratios and rates, and interpreting and moving fluently between the different representations.



    Visualisation involves creating images of the situation that is being discussed in order to make sense of it.


    Worked examples

    Worked examples refers to the demonstration of the steps required to successfully approach a learning task. Worked examples support the learning of new knowledge and independent practice.