Ernest Pounds

  Employability, Job skills, Work environment, Critical thinking

Learner Level:
  Multilevel...can be adapted to any learning level

Time Frame:
  1 hr. session

Learner Grouping:
  Individual, Small group, Whole class

  This class was composed of 12 Families First learners who are attending class to achieve their GED and ultimately enter the workforce in the community. These learners are in class five days per week and four hours per day.

Families First is the Tennessee program to provide training for those welfare recipients who lack basic education skills. While learners do work toward a GED, emphasis in these classes is shifting toward the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learners need to acquire and keep a good job.

Not Available

  Trenton Special School District Adult Education

Type of Program:
  Family literacy

Student Population Served:
  Basic Skills (Grade levels 5-8.9)

Increased productivity

Learners work in small groups using several different methods to sharpen pencils. The methods used will show how production can be increased based on the methods used and the time consumed. Each group of learners writes a report detailing their findings.

Learning Objective:
Learners will contrast the productivity of different methods of accomplishing a task. Learners will draw conclusions about how productivity can be increased as well as what criteria and techniques are necessary for increased production.

    Primary Skill:
    Learn through research

    Secondary Skills:
    Reflect and evaluate, Observe critically

    Learner Needs & Goals: 
    This learning activity grew out of a discussion on “productivity in the workplace.”

    Learning Activity Description:
               Determining the question to be answered

    1. Spend a few minutes in discussing productivity in general. What is productivity? Why is it important? What might affect productivity? How might productivity affect the “bottom line” for a business or industry? How can workers be more productive on the job?

    2. Discuss with the help of learner involvement items they believe to be necessary in improving productivity in the workplace. Relate the discussion to specific workplaces where learners have work experience or to workplaces where they might be employed in the future.

      Collecting Data

    3. Have the learners divide into groups of two or three depending on the number in class.

    4. Allow each group access to all of the materials listed above.

    5. Discuss which piece of equipment is likely to sharpen the pencils the fastest and best.

    6. When divided into groups, have one learner sharpen pencils with each of the items provided.Allow 30 seconds for using each kind of pencil sharpener.A different learner times the person that is doing the sharpening.For each device used to sharpen pencils, keep records on the number of pencils that are sharpened and the quality of the points.

      Drawing Conclusions

    7. Each group of learners should collaborate to write a report of their findings.  Learners should notice the increased productivity as they move from one method of sharpening to the other.

    8. Debrief the activity with a general discussion of productivity issues.  Equipment is only one factor affecting production.  An extension of this activity is to think of additional factors.

      Materials and Resources:

      • A box of unsharpened pencils
      • table knife
      • paring knife or pocket knife
      • small hand-held "pocket" pencil sharpener
      • wall or desk mounted manual pencil sharpener
      • electric or battery operated pencil sharpener

      The written reports and the concluding discussion are assessments of this activity.  The written reports should clearly indicate that the learners understand what influences productivity in this particular task. The discussion will let the instructor determine if learners can generalize about productivity to other situations

      My adult learners could easily see how the equipment used the time it takes can determine the quality of the product produced. They could also see how production is increased depending on the machinery used. In our concluding discussion, we considered the cost of each "machine" used for pencil sharpening. Learners remarked that sometimes it is worth spending more money to obtain better quality and increased productivity.

      I would not change the activity. It was a good activity in showing the learners how productivity is important in the workplace. It also showed the learners how the right machinery can increase productivity.


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