An exploration of the common content knowledge of high school mathematics teachers
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Many studies point to the problem of poor mathematics content knowledge of mathematics teachers in South Africa. The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers’ knowledge of the mathematics they are themselves teaching. Data was generated from the teachers (n = 253) written responses to test that was a shortened form of a previous Grade 12 Mathematics Paper One examination. The sample of teachers were studying towards an Advanced Certificate in Education (an upgrading high school mathematics qualification) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The findings revealed that the teachers in this sample obtained an average of 57% in the test. Using an APOS theory analysis it was found that many teachers who were working at an action level of a concept would require help and scaffolding to move to process or object levels of understanding of that concept. Furthermore it was found that on average teachers obtained 29% on questions which were at the problem solving level, raising concerns about how these teachers would mediate tasks that are set at high cognitive levels, with their Grade 12 learners.