Exploring Grade 10 learners' mathematics test anxiety

Wyngaard, Timara (2015-12)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Education, both in South Africa and internationally, experiences various challenges with regards to the need for improved teaching and learning. South African education is battling a crisis in mathematics and many learners experience anxiety surrounding the subject. Accordingly, there is a heightened necessity to develop teaching and learning practices that assist learners in being conscious, effective and independent thinkers. Given the impact of anxiety on learners’ engagement with mathematics, this study aimed to make a meaningful contribution to the understandings of test anxiety related to evaluations in mathematics. This in turn creates the opportunity for the provision of guidelines in addressing and consequently decreasing its occurrence. This study was embedded within an interpretive paradigm, employing a qualitative methodological approach, as well as a qualitative research design. Purposive sampling was used to select nine Grade 10 mathematics learners and one mathematics teacher to participate in the study. Data was collected by conducting semi-structured interviews, gathering the exam results of learner participants as obtained over a two and a half year period, and by conducting a creative drawing of the feelings exercise as a manner of externalising the experiences of anxiety to some degree. Furthermore, the qualitative analytical method of thematic analysis was used to analyse the data as this allowed for the identification, analysis and reporting of patterns or themes within the data. The research findings indicated that learners’ experiences and understandings of mathematics test anxiety are guided by emotionality and worry. Various factors related to preparation for an evaluation; physiological and cognitive experiences during an evaluation; and debriefing measures employed upon completion of an evaluation, are influential in learners’ overall experiences of anxiety pertaining to evaluations in mathematics. In addition, the study revealed various resources that can by employed as protective factors that may decrease the experiences of anxiety related to mathematics which in turn may have a positive impact on achievement. Furthermore, the study indicated manners in which pedagogical approaches may be adapted so as to aid in the lessening of anxiety surrounding mathematics. Apart from this, findings attained from this study have the potential to inform the direction of future research oriented toward decreasing learners’ experiences of anxiety pertaining to mathematics.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Onderwys, beide in Suid-Afrika en internasionaal, ervaar verskeie uitdagings rakende die behoefte aan verbeterde onderrig en leer. Die Suid-Afrikaanse onderwysstelsel beveg ‘n krisis in wiskunde en baie leerders ervaar angstigheid aangaande wiskunde. Daar is dus ‘n toenemende noodsaaklikheid om onderrig en leerwyses te ontwikkel wat die daarstel van bewuste, effektiewe en onafhanklike denkers teweeg sal bring. Gegee die impak van angs op leerders se omgang met wiskunde, het die studie gepoog om ‘n waardevolle bydra te maak tot die verstaan van toetsangs met betrekking tot evaluerings in wiskunde. Sodoende is die geleentheid geskep vir die daarstel van riglyne om toetsangs in wiskunde aan te spreek, asook te verminder. Hierdie studie is binne ‘n interpretatiewe paradigma gesetel en het van ‘n kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodologie, asook ‘n kwalitatiewe navorsingsontwerp gebruik gemaak. Doelgerigte steekproefneming is gebruik om nege Graad 10 wiskunde-leerders en een wiskunde-onderwyser te kies om aan die studie deel te neem. Data is deur middel van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoudsvoering, asook die versameling van die eksamenuitslae van alle deelnemende leerders, soos verkry oor ‘n twee en ‘n half jaar periode, ingewin. Verder is ‘n kreatiewe tekenoefening ook gedoen as ‘n manier om die ervaringe van angs tot ‘n sekere mate te eksternaliseer. Na afloop van die dataversamelingsproses is tematiese analise gebruik om die data te analiseer. Hierdie kwalitatiewe analitiese metode is gekies aangesien dit die geleentheid skep om data volgens patrone of temas te identifiseer en te analiseer. Die navorsing het aangedui dat leerders se ervaringe en begrip van wiskundetoetsangs grotendeels aangewese is op fisiologiese en kognitiewe komponente. Verskeie faktore wat verband hou met evaluerings; fisieke en kognitiewe ervaringe tydens ‘n evaluering; en die wyses van ontlading na ‘n evaluasie, het ‘n impak op leerders se algehele ervaring van angs met betrekking tot evaluasies in wiskunde. Verder het die studie aan die lig gebring dat verskeie faktore benut kan word om ‘n daling in die voorkoms van wiskundetoetsangs teweeg te bring, asook potensieel ‘n positiewe impak op prestasie te bewerkstelling. Die studie het ook aangedui op watter wyses pedagogiese benaderings aangepas sou kon word om by te dra tot ‘n afname in die voorkoms van angs met betrekking tot wiskunde. Afgesien van bogenoemde, het die navorsingsbevindinge ook die potensiaal om toekomstige navorsing in die veld van wiskundetoetsangs toe te lig.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97954
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