The pass rate in mathematics is unsatisfactory both in South Africa and internationally. Historically disadvantaged students tend to underachieve even more due to a variety of hampering factors. An investigation into the reasons for underachievement in mathematics prompted the researcher to launch a study through which she wanted to remediate some of these identified problems. The research project took place at Technikon Northern Gauteng (TNG), and comprised of the implementation of tutorial sessions. The study was conducted by means of a quasi-experimental design using action research. The primary goal of this dissertation is to report on the process, outcomes and recommendations in order to facilitate improvement in practice. The researcher's overarching hypothesis was that tutorials in mathematics would have a positive effect on the achievement of first year mathematics students at TNG. The following questions were focussed on during the course of the study: ¨ What is the impact of mathematics tutorials on problem-solving abilities and critical thinking? ¨ What is the impact of tutorials on the self-image of the students, with reference to mathematics and mathematics achievement? ¨ What is the impact of tutorials on mathematics achievement? ¨ Which role could tutors play in the creation of role models? ¨ Do students have the need to communicate mathematically in their mother tongue? ¨ How successfully could portfolio assessment be implemented? Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered through a standardised questionnaire, the SOM, a specifically designed, structured questionnaire, observations, focus group interviews, reflective diaries and student records. Some of the findings include: ¨ Historically disadvantaged students § often possess a unsatisfactory study orientation; § apply inefficient time management; § suffer from mathematics anxiety; § do not show a correlation in terms of grade 12 symbols and success at tertiary level § often experience milieu deficit; § do not achieve according to their expectations; and § do not have a learning culture (COLT) at their disposal. ¨ Students generally perceived the tutorials as positive and contributing towards success. The students § did not often speak in their mother tongues; § appreciated the relaxed work tempo; and § utilise the support system of the smaller group. ¨ During the focus group interviews students recognised the following success factors: § regular class attendance; § completion of homework § planning and revision according to a study timetable. ¨ Students shared some personal experiences with the researcher, namely that § the tutorials boosted their self-image and make them willing to ask questions during lectures; § some tutors acted as positive role models; and § the consistent involvement of the lecturer motivated students. The statistical procedures revealed that the students in the experimental group did not perform significantly better than those in the control group, yet that does not diminish the value of the study in any way. The researcher recommends further research in the tertiary mathematics environment in order to empower students.
Dissertation (MEd (Curriculum Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2005.