Original Research: Mathematics Education

The value of reflection on the process of teaching or learning mathematics with regard to Grade 7 learners in an impoverished rural school.

Marthie S. van der Walt
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 31, No 1 | a381 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v31i1.381 | © 2012 Marthie S. van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 August 2012 | Published: 30 November 2012

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Marthie S. van der Walt, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

When studying learners’ performance in mathematics, it is important to investigate more than just their cognitive performance in the subject. The purpose of this study was to investigate, identify and reflect on the strong and weak points of 23 grade 7 learners in respect of their study orientation (i.e. confidence in mathematics, study attitude and study habits in mathematics), as well as their knowledge of basic mathematics and their basic vocabulary in mathematics. The 23 learners came from Setswana, English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans home language backgrounds and were taught through medium of English and Afrikaans. Three standardised questionnaires or tests, triMATHS (BM[P], MV[P] and SOM[P]), were administered on the same day with ten-minute breaks in between the questionnaire ortests. The results of the data confirmed that these learners could do basic mathematics (BM[P]), and knew the basic vocabulary of mathematics (MV[P]). However, their confidence in mathematics, their study attitude and study habits in mathematics (SOM[P]) varied mostly from unsure to inadequate. Profiles were drawn of the individual learners’ performance in triMATHS, as well as those of the group, and these were analysed to identify those who might need assistance, support or remediation. The systematic analysis and interpretation of the results from the three questionnaires or tests helped the researcher and the teacher to better understand learners’ backgrounds, their feelings, attitudes and habits (study orientation in mathematics), their knowledge of basic mathematics, as well as their basic vocabulary in mathematics. (The latter was further probed during the in-depth interview with the mathematics teacher.) No intervention, however, was developed to remediate, support or develop these learners’ inadequate study orientation because their school was permanently closed after 2010.

Keywords

Study orientation; vocabulary; basic; profile

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