This study investigated the interaction of mathematics teachers with learners’ mathematical errors. The teachers’ verbal interaction with learners’ errors during learning periods and their written interaction in assessment tasks were explored. The study was contextualized in grade 9 secondary school classrooms in the Gauteng province of South Africa. The investigation was epistemologically underpinned by constructivism/socio-constructivism. The investigation was qualitatively approached through four case studies. Structured and semi-structured interviews, classroom observations and learners’ written assessment tasks were employed as sources of data. The participating teachers were described in terms of their beliefs about mathematics, their beliefs about learners’ mathematical errors, their observed prevalent teaching approach and their professed and enacted interaction with learners’ mathematical errors. Within-case and cross-case comparisons ensued. The findings proposed that when teachers believed that the value of learners’ errors was vested in the corrections thereof, rather than employing these opportunities for discussion, valuable opportunities for learners to develop and improve their meta-cognitive abilities might potentially be lost. The findings further indicated that a focus on the mere correction of learners’ errors probably denied learners opportunities to develop a mathematical discourse. The results of the investigation illuminated that an emphasis on achievement during assessment, together with a disapproving disposition towards errors among teachers and learners, were hindrances. They acted as barriers to engendering a socio-constructivist learning environment in which interactions with learners’ errors could enhance learning and establish a negotiating mathematical community. A concurrence between the teachers’ prevalent teaching approach and their mathematical beliefs was confirmed. However, in two of the four cases, a dissonance was revealed between their prevalent teaching approach and their interaction with learners’ errors. Interaction with learners’ mathematical errors was hence identified as a separate and discrete component of a teacher’s practice. The findings suggest the explicit inclusion of error-handling in reform-oriented teacher-training and professional development courses to utilize learners’ mathematical errors more constructively.
The failure rate in mathematics at school is high, not only in South Africa, but also
internationally. Furthermore, learners with an apparently high general ability or
aptitude for mathematics sometimes underachieve in ...
Barnes, Hayley E.(Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 2004)
This paper focuses on a Grade 8 mathematics intervention that has been developed and
implemented in a local high school in South Africa. The theory of Realistic Mathematics
Education (RME) has been applied in the design ...
Jita, Loyiso C.; Vandeyar, Saloshna(Perspectives in Education, 2006-03)
Based on life history accounts of two elementary school teachers in South Africa, this article examines the construction of two teachers' mathematics identities. In the article we juxtapose these identities with the identity ...