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- Volume 10, Issue 1, 2015
The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Volume 10, Issue 1, 2015
Volume 10, Issue 1, 2015
Author Dolina DowlingSource: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 4 –5 (2015)More Less
Ten years ago The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning was founded to provide a scholarly forum for academics and education practitioners to share their research in the broad area of teaching and learning. In 2014 the journal reached a milestone by being placed on the list of accredited journals by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training.
The rationale for teaching Quantitative Literacy in 21st century South Africa : a case for the renaming of Mathematical LiteracySource: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 6 –36 (2015)More Less
In 2014 Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training) proposed research into Mathematical Literacy to determine whether the content and skills in Mathematical Literacy compare with the problem-solving skills considered necessary to be quantitatively literate by world standards. The team of researchers transformed this question into three questions.
- What is Quantitative Literacy? What are its main characteristics (i.t.o. knowledge, skills and attitudes)?
- Does Mathematical Literacy cover the skills considered to be necessary to be quantitatively literate by world standards?
- To what extent does the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for Mathematical Literacy encompass the skills and knowledge required for arithmetical / mathematical / quantitative problem solving with respect to content, depth and breadth?
High school mathematics marks as an admission criterion for entry into programming courses at a South African universitySource: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 37 –50 (2015)More Less
In this study, the assumption that good performance in mathematics in the final school year could be used as a pre-entry requirement to programming courses at universities in South Africa, is challenged. The extant literature reports positive relationships between mathematics performance and success in programming courses. As computer programming modules in higher education institutions (HEIs) are typically characterised by low success rates, it becomes important to eliminate potentially erroneous entry requirements. The low success rate in programming modules is ascribed to the abstract nature and content of programming courses, and the inadequacy of pre-university education to prepare students for the cognitive skills required for success in such programmes. This paper reports on a single independent variable, 'performance in high school mathematics', and its relationship to performance in two computer programming courses. The dataset comprised the school marks of four cohorts of students who were enrolled for the programming modules between 2012 and 2015. Firstly, we computed the point-biserial correlation between a dichotomous variable that indicated whether students had mathematics as a subject in Grade 12 or not, and their performance in the programming modules. Once we established that a relationship existed, the marks achieved in the final school year for mathematics, and performance in two programming modules were correlated. Results indicated that the school mathematics marks correlate only marginally, and that correlations were not significant, with performance in the two programming courses. We also correlated the school mathematical literacy marks with performance in the two programming courses, and found that a strong positive correlation that was significant existed with the second semester programming course. We conclude that the mark achieved for school mathematics cannot be considered as a valid admission criterion for programming courses in the South African context.
Author Noleen LeachSource: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 51 –68 (2015)More Less
Poor throughput and high attrition rates increase the cost of training and decrease the admissions opportunities for school leavers in higher education. The poor performance of students in a first-year Law course in an Accounting programme at a university of technology contributed to this problem. English is the medium of instruction but the mother tongue of the majority of students is predominantly isiXhosa or Afrikaans and many of these students were struggling with the medium of instruction as well as the discourse of the discipline. Submersion schooling compounds the deeply ingrained weak interlanguages of students entering higher education, presenting a particular challenge to effective learning taking place in the classroom. This investigation applied the three themes of constructivism that flow from Social Development theory as the theoretical foundation for the implementation of a multilingual tutorial (MLT) pilot programme as an intervention to improve the performance of the students in the course. The aim of this investigation was to determine whether MLTs could assist the student and lecturer to overcome the challenges that the language barrier presents and improve student performance in the first-year Law course. The MLTs were positively received by the participants and the cohort showed an above average performance in the course. MLTs indeed assisted in improving the performance of the participants. However, these findings are accompanied by the caveat that other factors impacting on student performance have not been excluded.
The notion of Lego© Mindstorms as a powerful pedagogical tool : scaffolding learners through computational thinking and computer programmingAuthor Jacqui ChettySource: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 69 –84 (2015)More Less
This paper documents a study that was conducted with regard to the use of robotics as an innovative pedagogical tool for computer programming. The robotics in question relate to the Lego Mindstorms robots that were introduced as a means to develop further learners' problem-solving skills and motivate learners to have fun while learning. Vygotsky's philosophy regarding the Zone of Proximal Development supports the notion of Lego Mindstorms robots as a pedagogical tool. A mixed methods study was conducted and the aim of the project was twofold. Firstly, to determine whether robots reinforce fundamental computer programming concepts that were taught in the classroom environment. Secondly, to determine whether robots provide motivation and interest in computer programming. The issues regarding the pedagogical approach are discussed and feedback from learners is analysed. The results are positive and encouraging.
Source: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 85 –97 (2015)More Less
Computer Science (CS) enrolments at higher education institutions across the globe remain low in comparison to other disciplines. The low interest in CS is often attributed to students' misconceptions about the discipline, such as CS being construed as complex, asocial, and only for computer wizards. Consequently, hackathons, which are self-organised programmes that bring together different stakeholders to collaborate in rapidly building software prototypes, are emerging as one potential solution to address some of the students' misconceptions about the CS field. Using an exploratory case study and activity theory for data analysis; this research article presents substantive research findings that posit hackathons as an approach that could stimulate and maintain students' interest in CS. The key elements of the hackathon model are collaborations, networking, mentoring, hands-on engagement in socially-relevant computing projects, and community involvement. The model was evaluated using expert reviews in terms of its relevance, impact, complexity, and sustainability.
Analysis of errors due to deficient mastery of prerequisite skills, facts and concepts : a case of financial mathematicsSource: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 98 –113 (2015)More Less
The main aim of the study was (1) to identify errors committed by learners in financial mathematics, and, (2) to understand why learners continue to make such errors so that mechanisms to avoid them could be devised. It has been hypothesised that errors committed by learners in financial mathematics are not due to a lack of prerequisite skills, facts and concepts. Using Newman's Error Analysis as a theoretical framework, a four-point Likert scale and a content-based structured-interview questionnaire was developed to identify the errors committed. The study was conducted by means of a case study guided by the positivists' paradigm where the research sample comprised of 105 Grade 10 Mathematics Literacy learners as respondents. A structured-interview questionnaire was used for collecting data, aimed at addressing the main objective of the study. In order to test the reliability and consistency of the items in the questionnaire, Cronbach's Alpha was calculated for standardised items (α = 0.705). Data analysis through content analysis and correlation analysis revealed that learners tend to forget to read the instructions (A) and rounding off incorrectly (C), was weakly significant, as p<.01 (r = +.31). The hypothesis was tested through Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) revealed that errors committed by learners in financial mathematics are not due to the lack of prerequisite skills, facts and concepts, as the variables showed non-significance.
Source: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 114 –126 (2015)More Less
The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) is a modification of what to teach (curriculum) and not how to teach (teaching methods) in South African schools. In July 2009, the Minister of Basic Education appointed a panel of experts (an independently constituted quality assurance body) to investigate the nature of the challenges and problems experienced in the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS). During 2011 the NCS was reviewed extensively; amendments were made to the NCS, which is now referred to as the NCS (CAPS). The aim of this study was to evaluate whether or not the amended NCS (CAPS) is an improvement on the original NCS. The Reflective Model of Gibbs and the Appreciative Inquiry Theory were used as theoretical frameworks. A qualitative research approach was used and 16 Foundation Phase teachers were interviewed to determine their views on the differences between the NCS and the NCS (CAPS). The main results indicated that implementation of the amended NCS (CAPS) remains a challenge.
Source: The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning 10, pp 127 –140 (2015)More Less
The new Curriculum in Malawi: the Primary Curriculum and Assessment Reform (PCAR) designed on the principles of integrated learning areas; outcomes; learner-centred pedagogies and continuous assessment (CA) was implemented in 2007. The purpose of this study was to investigate Expressive Arts teachers' understandings, experiences and practices of continuous assessment in a selection of six state primary schools. Within a qualitative research design, and using the concepts of 'instructional system' and 'learning milieu' of Illuminative evaluation as postulated by Parlett and Hamilton (1976), data were collected through observations, interviews and document analyses. Teachers' practices were characterised by an informal, technical form of assessment that privileged rote recall of facts and meeting bureaucratic requirements. The teachers cited large classes, lack of material resources and insufficient time as constraints. This study recommends that attention be given towards developing teachers' understanding of CA principles and practice both at pre-service and in-service levels.