Teaching and learning of fractions in primary schools in Maseru
Marake, ‘Maphole Georgina
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Throughout the world governments and other education stakeholders advocate quality education and education for all. Among others, mathematics education is seen by governments as essential in the advancement of the development of countries. Lesotho is no exception in this regard hence mathematics is one of the core subjects in Lesotho’s education system. Though Mathematics education is seen as pivotal to the development of countries, analysis of mathematics Junior Certificate (JC) examination results in Lesotho indicates that performance in mathematics is not good. This study therefore aspired to investigate teaching strategies predominantly employed by primary mathematics teachers and assess their effect on learners’ meaningful learning of fractions. In order to meet this aim the study attempted to determine what literature said about effective learning and teaching of fractions, the level of training given to mathematics teachers and determine whether effective learning and teaching materialised in the three classrooms that were studied. The existing literature proposed different teaching strategies that resulted in significant learning of fractions. To investigate dominant teaching strategies that teachers used in the teaching of fractions, class observations of three teachers were conducted. Teachers were observed in their classrooms over a period of time and follow-up interviews were conducted. Samples of the teachers’ documents and the learners’ work were analysed to evaluate the extent to which effective learning and teaching of fractions were taking place in these respective classes. Literature indicates that effective learning, of fractions, entails meaningful construction of the concept through handling of concrete materials and formation of relationship between concepts. Effective teaching on the other hand entails the ability to create situations in which learning is facilitated. Teachers are said to possess both mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) and Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in order to be able to teach effectively. In order to fully understand the level of training that the teachers received teacher trainers were interviewed. It was found that teachers did not engage learners in high order reasoning and problem solving, instead they gave close-ended questions which learners answered by practising rules and procedures that teachers taught. Learners therefore did not use their own strategies when writing solutions to questions. It was recommended that teachers should use readily available materials like paper and papers and when planning lessons they should think of possible errors, misconceptions and difficulties that learners were likely to have.
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