Original Research: Mathematics Education

Assessment in mathematics: The need for a positive approach

Jacobus G. Maree
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 32, No 1 | a429 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v32i1.429 | © 2013 Jacobus G. Maree | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 June 2013 | Published: 24 October 2013

About the author(s)

Jacobus G. Maree, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The marks that learners obtain in mathematics have a potentially significant impact on aspects such as acceptance into certain fields of study and being considered for bursaries and eventual employment (by default, therefore, their design of a future, success and happiness). For this reason, there is great concern at national level about inadequate achievement in mathematics and the high dropout figure at both school and tertiary level. This article offers a critical reflection on the current way in which assessment is conducted in mathematics. The first part of the article consists of reflection on the one-sided manner in which assessment is conducted in mathematics classrooms at present. The focus then shifts to a description of and critical reflection on qualitative assessment in mathematics. The merits of a combined quantitative + qualitative approach to learning facilitation in mathematics classrooms are delineated. Argument is made in favour of a shift away from a positivist style of assessment towards a positive approach to assessment in mathematics. It is not adequate to focus on a quantitative figure or symbol as the sole indicator of a learner’s potential to achieve in mathematics. In conclusion, some recommendations follow to facilitate a more accountable reflection of learners’ mathematical skills and capacity at a certain stage.

Keywords

wiskunde; maatskaplik verantwoordbare gebruik van statistiek; navorsing; assessering; toetsing; gekombineerde kwantitatiewe+kwalitatiewe benadering tot wiskundeonderrig en -leer; positiewe benadering

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