The purpose of this study is to examine whether Olympiad participation can develop problem-solving skills in mathematically-gifted learners from disadvantaged schools. My methodological approach was QUAN→Qual, using a quasi-experimental design with a non-equivalent comparison group. I chose two schools from the same disadvantaged area, and identified the top 50 Grade 7 learners in each school by mathematics marks. The study consisted of a pre-test, three mathematics sessions and a post-test. The Study Orientation in Mathematics Questionnaire (SOM) (Maree, Prinsloo, & Claassen, 2011) was used as the pre- and post-test, and a focus group explored the learners’ experience of the SOM. In the mathematics sessions, the intervention group worked through past papers of the SA Mathematics Challenge (South African Mathematics Foundation, 2018), and the alternative intervention group completed worksheets from a Department of Basic Education workbook.
My study revealed a positive relationship between success in traditional Mathematics and Study Attitude, Study Habits and overall Study Orientation, and an interaction between disadvantage and success in Mathematics. Participants were less disadvantaged than their surroundings would indicate, and had higher Mathematics anxiety than expected for their achievement level. The intervention did not increase problem-solving behaviour and both the quantitative and qualitative findings showed that the participants found the Olympiad type questions unfamiliar and difficult. This unfamiliarity is indicative of the limited enrichment opportunities for mathematically-gifted learners in disadvantaged areas of South Africa. Greater experience of Mathematics Olympiads is suggested to help mathematically-gifted disadvantaged learners live up to their problem-solving potential.
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 ...
Maree, J.G. (Kobus); Olivier, E.C.; Swanepoel, A.C.(Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap & Kuns, 2004)
South African learners’ insufficient achievement in mathematics is of concern to everyone involved in learning facilitation in mathematics. Interested parties constantly seek ways in which learners’ insight into and ...