Teachers' perceptions of spreadsheet algebra programs as curriculum materials for high school mathematics in Namibia

Rodrigues Losada, Ricardo J. (2012-12)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2012

Includes bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in the form of spreadsheet algebra programmes (SAPs) is important in the professional development of high school mathematics teachers. This is in line with The Namibian government‟s Vision 2030 in which ICT skills and competencies are regarded as core elements of living and participating in the 21st century. ICTs are also considered to be fundamental to the development of a dynamic knowledge-based economy (KBE) through the Education and Training Sector Improvement Program (ETSIP). ETSIP‟s aim is to embed ICT at all levels of the education system. It also aims to integrate the use of ICTs as tools in the delivery of curriculum and learning and in so doing, lead to a marked improvement in the quality of the learning and teaching process across all levels. Education has a key role in achieving Vision 2030. The aim of this research was to investigate mathematics teachers‟ perceptions of SAPs as curriculum materials in selected Namibian secondary (high) schools. This research adopted a qualitative methodology, which in this instance was a case study. The sample population consisted of five teachers from Okamu (pseudonym) secondary school in the Ohangwena Region of Namibia. Four of them had been teaching mathematics at different levels in the mentioned school for a period of four years, and one of them was teaching physical science. Three methods of data collection were used. The first two were semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews based on teachers‟ experiences using SAPs. The third method was an audio taped observation of a lesson taught by one of the teachers,. This research provides evidence about teachers‟ perceptions regarding time concerns and constraints with regards to the SAPs and the use of the SAPs. The teachers showed willingness and enthusiasm to use SAPs on linear and quadratic functions in their teaching. Some of the teachers became more aware of the epistemic dimensions associated with mathematical and algebraic symbols. Interview data reveal that the teachers had not considered these dimensions when teaching with the usual paper-and-pen format. The research also provides evidence of a teacher‟s early vision about the use of spreadsheets as an instrument to teach linear functions. This teacher did not consider any epistemic value for the instrumented spreadsheets techniques, or that they might contribute to a deeper understanding of the linear functions. His concern was focused more on getting the learners to acquire computer skills, such as learning how to use spreadsheets. It is recommended that in-service professional development about ICT integration into mathematics teaching be offered. This might help teachers to learn how their knowledge and skills could be used in the classroom more effectively in order to save time. It is also suggested that professional development programmes be designed to stimulate and promote teachers‟ willingness to develop an understanding of the characteristics of ICTs such as SAPs and their uses. Lastly, it is recommended that new SAPs be designed in order to deepen the understanding of algebra at the secondary level.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die gebruik van inligting- en kommunikasietegnologieë (IKT's) in die vorm van sigblad-algebra-programme (SAP's) is belangrik vir die professionele ontwikkeling van hoërskoolwiskunde-onderwysers. Dit is in pas met die Namibiese regering se visie vir 2030, Vision 2030, waarin IKT-vaardighede en -bevoegdhede beskou word as kernelemente van die lewe in en deelname aan die 21ste eeu. IKT's word ook beskou as grondliggend aan die ontwikkeling van ‟n dinamiese kennisekonomie (KE) deur middel van die Verbeteringsprogram vir die Onderwys- en Opleidingsektore (ETSIP). ETSIP het as oogmerk om IKT op alle vlakke van die onderwysstelsel vas te lê. Dit het ook ten doel om die gebruik van IKT's as hulpmiddele te integreer in die lewering van kurrikulum en leer en sodoende ‟n duidelike verbetering in die gehalte van die onderrig-en-leerproses oor alle vlakke heen tot gevolg te hê. Onderwys het ‟n sleutelrol te speel by die bereiking van Vision 2030. Die doel van hierdie navorsing was om wiskundeonderwysers se persepsies van SAP's as kurrikulummateriaal in geselekteerde Namibiese sekondêre (hoër-) skole te ondersoek. Hierdie navorsing het ‟n kwalitatiewe metode gevolg, in hierdie geval ‟n gevallestudie. Die proefgroep het bestaan uit vyf onderwysers van die sekondêre skool Okamu (skuilnaam) in die Ohangwena-streek van Namibië. Vier van hulle het reeds vier jaar lank wiskunde op verskillende vlakke in die betrokke skool gegee en een van hulle het fisiese wetenskap gegee. Drie metodes is ingespan om data in te samel. Die eerste twee was semigestruktureerde onderhoude en fokusgroeponderhoude gebaseer op onderwysers se ervaringe ten opsigte van die gebruik van SAP's. Die derde metode was ‟n klankopname van ‟n waarnemingsessie van ‟n les wat deur een van die onderwysers gegee is. Hierdie navorsing getuig van onderwysers se persepsies ten opsigte van tydskwessies en -beperkinge met betrekking tot die SAP's en die gebruik van die SAP's. Die onderwysers het ‟n gewilligheid en geesdrif geopenbaar om by lineêre en kwadratiese funksies SAP's in hul onderrig te gebruik. Party onderwysers het meer bewus geraak van die epistemiese dimensies in verband met wiskundige en algebraïese simbole. Onderhouddata onthul dat die onderwysers nie hierdie dimensies in ag geneem het toe hulle met die gewone papier-en-pen-formaat klasgegee het nie. Die navorsing bevestig ook ‟n onderwyser se aanvanklike insig oor die gebruik van sigblaaie as 'n instrument om lineêre funksies te onderrig. Hierdie onderwyser het nie die epistemiese waarde vir die geïnstrumenteerde sigbladtegnieke in ag geneem nie, of dat hulle sou kon bydra tot ‟n grondiger begrip van die lineêre funksies nie. Sy belangstelling was eerder daarop gefokus om die leerders sover te kry om rekenaarvaardighede, soos om sigblaaie te kan gebruik, te verwerf. Daar word aanbeveel dat indiens- professionele ontwikkeling oor IKT-integrasie in wiskundeonderrig aangebied word. Dit sal onderwysers moontlik help om te leer hoe hulle kennis en vaardighede meer doeltreffend in die klaskamer gebruik kan word om tyd te bespaar. Daar word ook voorgestel dat professionele ontwikkelingsprogramme ontwerp word, ter stimulering en bevordering van onderwysers se bereidwilligheid om ‟n begrip te ontwikkel van die kenmerke en gebruike van IKT's soos SAP's. Laastens word daar aanbeveel dat nuwe SAP's ontwerp word om die verstaan van algebra op sekondêre vlak te verdiep.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71846
This item appears in the following collections: