Adults’ Use of Mathematics and Its Influence on Mathematical Competence

  • Christoph Duchhardt
  • Anne-Katrin Jordan
  • Timo Ehmke


The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) has recently drawn additional attention to “mathematical literacy” as an important influential factor for individuals’ life chances. High levels of mathematical literacy have thereby been linked to using mathematics in daily and working life frequently. In this paper, based on the data from Germany, we focus on the construct “use of mathematics” in two ways: First, we analyze in depth how it can be utilized to describe different groups of adults. Second, we investigate its role as predictor of mathematical competence and mediator of other relevant background variables. Results show that three groups of adults can be distinguished that use mathematics differently in daily and working life. However, the construct can sensibly be described as unidimensional. In a path model, “use of mathematics” turns out to be the strongest predictor of mathematical competence. In addition, it mediates effects of the mathematical requirements of the job, duration of education, and gender.


Adults Mathematical competence Mathematical literacy Mathematical requirements of the job Use of mathematics 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Duchhardt
    • 1
  • Anne-Katrin Jordan
    • 1
  • Timo Ehmke
    • 2
  1. 1.University of BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Leuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany

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