Are students who have been educated in an outcomes-based approach prepared for university
mathematics? Following the political changes of 1994 in South Africa, the decision was taken to replace the traditional skills-based education system at primary and secondary school level (Grades 1 - 12) with an outcomes-based education system (OBE). The OBE approach, referred to as Curriculum 2005, was introduced into schools in 1998. The implementation of the OBE system did not occur without problems, giving rise to revised initiatives and a fair amount of criticism. The 2009 intake of students at universities is the first group of students that had been subjected to the OBE approach for their entire school career. This is also the first group of students for whom some form of
mathematics was compulsory up to Grade 12 level in the form of mathematics or mathematical
literacy. These students were characterised by the fact that their mathematics marks for Grade 12
were exceptionally high and that many more students qualified for university entrance. This article reports on the impact of this new education system on the mathematics preparedness
of students entering university. The study involves an empirical analysis of the students in
the first-year mathematics course for engineering students at the University of Pretoria as well
as an analysis of a questionnaire completed by experienced lecturers at this university. The question addressed in this article is how the 2009 intake of students cope with mathematics
at university level with regard to
• General attributes
• Mathematical attributes
• Content-related attributes
Results indicate a decrease in mathematics performance of these students at university level
and that the inflated matric marks result in unjustified expectations. However, it is not unusual for marks to decrease from school to university and there is still too little evidence for serious concern. The study also indicates that these students seem to be better equipped with regard to personal attributes such as self-confidence and the will to work. However, in many instances, their general mathematical attributes such as algebraic manipulation skills and their general mastery of mathematical writing are worse than those of students in the past. There are also areas where their content knowledge is either lacking or unexpectedly shallow. It therefore appears that these students have improved personal attributes but not necessarily the knowledge and mathematical skills to back them up. Some recommendations are made with regard to handling the situation. It is clear that the new school system necessitates changes at school level with a view to university level in order to ensure a transition that is surmountable.
Uitkomsgerigte onderrig (UGO) het ’n groei- en hersieningsfase beleef en is vir die afsienbare
toekoms hier om te bly. Die 2009-inname van studente op universiteit is die eerste matrikulante wat slegs binne die nuwe bedeling onderrig ontvang het. Hierdie matrikulante se graad 12-uitslae is deur onnatuurlik hoë punte in wiskunde gekenmerk. Die vraag wat gevra word, is hoe die 2009-inname van studente in wiskunde op universiteit vaar wat prestasie, algemene vaardighede, wiskundige vaardighede en inhoudverwante vaardighede betref. Dit blyk dat alhoewel hierdie studente beter toegerus is wat persoonlike eienskappe soos selfvertroue betref, hulle in baie gevalle swakker daaraan toe is wat wiskundige en inhoudverwante vaardighede betref. Voorstelle word gemaak om die oorgang van sekondêre na tersiêre wiskunde gladder te maak.