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Year 12 Economics - ICT knowledge gap

As part of a Year 12 Economics internal assessment, students are required to create some graphs using Microsoft Excel ranging from a multi-line graph with a single scale to a multi-line graph with two scales. I knew it was not common knowledge how to create a multi-line graph with two scales, but surely creating a graph using the graph wizard must be something that everyone was able to do!

However, I was shocked to find a large proportion of students (at Year 12 level) who have not used Excel before!! It really was an eye-opener to realise that 16 year olds who use facebook and other apps on a daily basis, not know how to use Excel.

So I readjusted my teaching plan to include the teaching of basic functions of Excel (such as creating formulas, copying formulas, inserting rows, using the sum function buttons etc). Needless to say, the students OOOed and AHHed at the magic of the creating a graph.

Following an in-class demonstration of creating graphs, students proceeded to practical sessions in the computer lab. I learnt that the students actually picked up the skills very fast and could find their way around Excel to manipulate the graphs. My initial shock turned into pleasant surprise.

Attached is a help sheet that I created to guide students through the creation of a multi-line graph with 2 scales.


  • Theresa Bosch

    Wow Lin Ern, one tends to forget that there is such a gap.... well done for addressign this.  These are skills the girls will carry with them forever! T

  • Giles Lancaster

    Good point; Marc Prenskys   ‘Digital Native’ – young, technologically avid and literate – as opposed to the  ‘Digital Immigrant’ – older, less familiar and uncomfortable with technology, has done much harm when it has been translated into the idea that students efficiently use technology to solve problems / learn. The reality is that many students have a very narrow range of skills. We need to teach them. 

  • Karen Spencer

    Thanks for sharing your learning here, Lin. Your post prompted some interesting reactions in the MLE Reference group (another online forum), too, as others debated the idea of deliberate teaching of computing skills to support learning in particular curriculum areas.

    Your post is a helpful reminder that we can never assume we know students' prior knowledge, and than, like literacy skills, for example, we may have to factor in deliberate modelling of strategies for students until they have mastered them for themselves:-) Taught, rather than caught:-)

    Do keep sharing your reflections with the community:-)