Exploring the number sense of final year primary pre-service teachers

Courtney-Clarke, Magret Anna Eugenie (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explored the number sense of 47 final year primary school pre-service teachers in Namibia and was motivated by the poor performance of Namibian primary school learners in both national and international standardised assessment tests. The literature review revealed that learner performance is linked to teacher subject knowledge (Ball, 1990, Ma, 1999) and that teachers’ confidence in doing and teaching mathematics influences the way they teach and their willingness to learn mathematics (Ball, 1990; Graven 2004). Number sense studies of pre-service teachers (Kaminski, 1997; Tsao, 2004; Veloo, 2010; Yang, Reys & Reys, 2009) have indicated that the development of number sense should be a focus of primary pre-service teacher education. The data in this mixed method research design were obtained from a Number Sense Questionnaire, a Written Computations Questionnaire and a Mental Calculations Questionnaire. These questionnaires were adapted from instruments developed by Professor Der-Ching Yang for 6th and 8th grade learners in Taiwan. Teacher confidence was measured by the McAnallen Confidence in Mathematics and Mathematics Teaching Survey. Six randomly selected pre-service teachers were interviewed to determine their use of number-sensible strategies. The correlation analysis shows a strong relationship between number sense and mental calculations; between number sense and confidence in both the ability to do and the ability to teach mathematics and between mental and written calculations. The overall results of this study reveal that the final year primary pre-service teachers demonstrate limited number sense and possess very few of the indicators of number sense that were described by Kalchman, Moss and Case (2001). The findings expose a lack of conceptual understanding of the domain numbers and operations, particularly in the domain of rational numbers and the operations of multiplication and division. The pre-service teachers have little or no access to a variety of flexible number-sensible strategies to solve problems and calculate mentally. They lack the fluency in basic facts and procedures to perform written calculations efficiently and correctly. Unexpectedly, the analysis of the confidence survey shows that they are confident in both their ability to do mathematics and their ability to teach mathematics. It is recommended that mental calculations and computational estimation should become a focus of primary school mathematics education. Institutions responsible for teacher training should develop the number sense of pre-service teachers and research effective and long-term professional development programmes. The confidence and willingness of the teachers to learn can be used as an important resource.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die getalbegrip van 47 finale jaar primêre skool voordiens-onderwysers in Namibië en is gemotiveer deur die swak prestasie van die Namibiese primêre skool leerlinge in beide nasionale en internasionale gestandaardiseerde assesseringstoetse. Die literatuurstudie het aan die lig gebring dat leerlinge se prestasie gekoppel is aan onderwyservakkennis (Ball, 1990, Ma, 1999) en dat onderwysers se vertroue in hulle vermoë om wiskunde te doen en te onderrig, die manier waarop hulle onderrig en hul bereidwilligheid om wiskunde te leer beïnvloed (Ball, 1990, Graven 2004 ). Studies van voordiens primêre onderwysers se getalbegrip (Kaminski, 1997; Tsao, 2004; Veloo, 2010; Yang, Reys & Reys, 2009) toon dat die ontwikkeling van getalbegrip 'n fokus van primêre voordiensonderwyseropleiding behoort te wees. Die data in hierdie gemengde metode navorsing is verkry uit 'n Getalbegrip, 'n Skriftelike Berekeninge en 'n Hoofrekene Vraelys. Hierdie vraelyste is gebaseer op die instrumente wat ontwikkel is deur Professor Der-Ching Yang vir graad 6 en 8 leerlinge in Taiwan. Onderwyservertroue is gemeet deur die McAnallen Confidence in Mathematics and Mathematics Teaching Survey. Ses ewekansig geselekteerde voordiens-onderwysers is ondervra om te bepaal watter sinvolle strategieë hulle gebruik om vrae oor getalbegrip te beantwoord. Die korrelasie-analise toon 'n sterk verband tussen getalbegrip en hoofrekene; tussen getalbegrip en vertroue in die vermoë om wiskunde te doen en te leer, en tussen vermoë om hoofrekene en skriftelike bewerkinge te doen. Die algehele resultate van hierdie studie dui daarop dat die finale jaar primêre voordiens-onderwysers oor beperkte getalbegrip en baie min van die aanwysers van getalbegrip wat deur Kalchman, Moss en Case (2001) beskryf is, beskik. Die bevindinge toon ‘n gebrek aan begrip van die domein van getalle en bewerkings, veral in die domein van rasionale getalle en die bewerkings vermenigvuldiging en deling. Die voordiens-onderwysers beskik oor min of geen soepel strategieë om probleme op te los en hoofrekene te doen nie. Hulle beskik nie oor die vlotheit in basiese feite en bewerkings om skriftelike berekeninge doeltreffend en korrek uit te voer nie. Die vertroue wat voordiens-onderwysers uitgespreek het in hulle vermoë om wiskunde te doen en onderrig staan in sterk teenstelling met hierdie bevindige. Dit word aanbeveel dat hoofrekene en skatting 'n fokus van primêre skool wiskunde-onderwys behoort te wees. Instansies gemoeid met onderwyseropleiding behoort die getalbegrip van voordiensonderwysers te onwikkel en navorsing te doen oor effektiewe en lang-termyn programme vir professionele ontwikkeling. Onderwysers se vertroue en bereidwilligheid om te leer kan as 'n belangrike hulpbron gebruik word.

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