The experiences of secondary mathematics teachers teaching mathematics through problem solving

Matlala, Sego Jacob (2015-12)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2015

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Secondary school mathematics focuses mainly on developing learners’ understanding and ability to reason. Regardless of the hours of instruction, learners often fail to master basic school algorithms or to apply them correctly in mathematical situations. The assumption is that teachers still use drill and practice methods in order to teach mathematics, despite the fact that a problem-solving approach offers an efficient alternative to these methods. In this thesis, the experiences of secondary school BEd (in-service) mathematics teachers were explored. The intention was to determine in particular what opportunities and challenges secondary mathematics teachers are faced with regarding teaching mathematics using the problem-solving approach while participating in a hybrid distance learning model offered by Rhodes University. One of the questions to be answered was “How do mathematics teachers apply a problem-solving approach in their own classrooms?” The interpretive qualitative paradigm underpinned this research study in that the study mainly centred on the significance of participants’ experiences and what meaning can be made from their experiences. As this was a case study, the focus was on four teachers (purposefully and conveniently selected among 12 teachers) in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district of the Kuruman area, Northern Cape province, South Africa, regarding how problem solving has impacted on their teaching practices as individuals. The four selected teachers were in their third and final year of the BEd (in-service) programme at the time of the study. This study made use of a variety of data-generation techniques that included a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and observations. The researcher analysed and reported the findings regarding the teachers’ experiences using data generated from classroom observations, questionnaires and face-to-face interviews. The findings of this study indicated that teachers still facilitate mathematics lessons using a ‘traditional’ approach, namely ‘telling and showing’. Teachers still experiences challenges that prohibit them from incorporating a problem-solving approach.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hoërskoolwiskunde fokus hoofsaaklik op die ontwikkeling van leerders se begrip en redenasievermoë. Ondanks al die ure se onderrig sukkel leerders dikwels om basiese skoolalgoritmes te bemeester of om dit korrek in wiskundige situasies toe te pas. Die aanname is dat onderwysers steeds dril- en inoefeningsmetodes gebruik om wiskunde te onderrig ten spyte van die feit dat ’n probleemoplossingsbenadering ’n doeltreffende alternatief bied. In hierdie tesis is die ervaring van BEd- (indiensopleiding)onderwysers ondersoek. Die doel was om uit te vind watter spesifieke geleenthede en uitdagings hoërskoolwiskunde-onderwysers in die oë staar tydens die onderrig van wiskunde met behulp van die probleemoplossingsmetode gedurende deelname aan ’n hibridiese leermodel wat deur Rhodes Universiteit aangebied word. Een van die vrae wat beantwoord moes word, was “Hoe pas wiskunde-onderwysers die probleemoplossingsbenadering in hulle eie klaskamers toe?”. Die vertolkende kwalitatiewe paradigma het hierdie navorsingstudie onderlê deurdat die studie hoofsaaklik gefokus het op die beduidendheid van deelnemers se ervarings en die betekenis wat van daardie ervarings afgelei kan word. Aangesien hierdie ’n gevallestudie was, het die klem geval op vier onderwysers (doelgerig en gerieflikheidshalwe uit 12 onderwysers gekies) in die John Taolo Gaetsewe-distrik van die Kuruman-area in die Noord-Kaap, Suid-Afrika, se ervaring van hoe probleemoplossing hulle individuele onderrigpraktyke beïnvloed het. Die vier geselekteerde onderwysers was almal in hulle derde of finale jaar van die BEd- indiensopleidingsprogram ten tye van die studie. In die studie is van ’n verskeidenheid datagenereringstegnieke gebruik gemaak, met inbegrip van ’n vraelys, semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude en waarneming. Die navorser het die bevindinge ontleed en verslag word gedoen rakende die onderwysers se ervarings deur gebruik te maak van data wat uit klaskamerwaarnemings, vraelyste en persoonlike onderhoude gegenereer is. Die bevindinge van die studie toon aan dat onderwysers steeds wiskundelesse fasiliteer deur van ʼn ‘tradisionele’ benadering, naamlik ‘vertel en wys’, gebruik te maak. Onderwysers ervaar steeds uitdagings wat hulle daarvan weerhou om ’n probleemoplossingsbenadering in te sluit.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97968
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