- A-Z Publications
- African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
- Issue Home
African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education - latest Issue
Volumes & issues
Volume 20, Issue 3, 2016
Assessment of students' scientific and alternative conceptions of energy and momentum using concentration analysisSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 201 –213 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1218657More Less
This study compares the scientific and alternative conceptions of energy and momentum of university first year science students in Ethiopia and the US. Written data were collected using the Energy and Momentum Conceptual Survey developed by Singh and Rosengrant. The Concentration Analysis statistical method was used for analysing the Ethiopian data from 72 students and extending the analysis of the American data from 352 students in the Singh and Rosengrant study. Low levels of scientific conceptions of students' responses were identified for both groups of respondents. A three-level categorisation of students' responses showed that the distribution of responses to 80% (ETH) and 52% (US) of the items represented the null-model or random state. The distribution of responses to 20% (ETH) and 48% (US) of the items represented the bi-model state and none of the items was responded to in a purely correct or alternative conception one-model state. The analysis of the data revealed a variety of students' alternative conceptions and phenomenological primitives (p-prims) regarding energy and momentum. The findings imply that teachers should explore the use of the Concentration Analysis method in identifying alternative conceptions and p-prims in physics to support their students' learning.
Author Willem RauscherSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 214 –224 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1215959More Less
Technology teachers should have a sound understanding and knowledge of artefacts in order to assist learners in the designing, making and evaluating of artefacts. Unfortunately, technology teachers in South African schools seem to have a poor grasp of the complexity of this important part of knowledge that is specific to technology. As a result, many technology teachers are unable to support learners in designing and making artefacts that are functional, aesthetically pleasing and have utility value outside the classroom. This deficiency in their knowledge can, among other things, be attributed to the fact that most technology teachers have not received formal training in technology education. Also, the limited research base and the paucity of subject-based philosophical frameworks in technology education, which could inform classroom pedagogy, exacerbate this situation. Therefore, the purpose of this theoretical essay is to draw on, inter alia, literature from the philosophy of technology to provide an overview of the nature of technical artefacts with a view to creating a framework that will help teachers to understand technical artefacts and be able to teach about them effectively. The framework may be a useful tool for teachers to support learners in designing and making technical artefacts that work properly, are fit-for-purpose, and are well finished. The framework, which provides a structure for designing and developing technical artefacts, may also serve as an instrument to help learners in evaluating existing artefacts, which, in turn, may enhance their understanding of the knowledge that is embedded in artefacts.
Author Lukanda KaloboSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 225 –233 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1215965More Less
This paper explores teachers' perceptions of their learners' proficiency in statistical literacy, reasoning and thinking. Research in Statistics education has prompted a move away from the teaching of statistical skills, towards focusing on the development of statistical literacy, reasoning and thinking. The recent South African Grade 10-12 Mathematics curriculum change reflects this move. A specific challenge for South Africa is that teachers should understand the new intended outcomes of statistics when assessing learners. The participants (n = 66) included Grade 12 Mathematics teachers (females = 40%) from a district in the Free State, South Africa, selected through convenience sampling. A quantitative research approach was used by administering a 13-item Likert scale questionnaire with the Grade 12 Mathematics teachers. The responses were summarised descriptively as frequencies and percentages. The results indicated that two in three teachers perceived their learners to obtain acceptable proficiency in statistical literacy as defined by the literature. In contrast, only one in three teachers perceived their learners usually or almost always to be proficient in statistical reasoning and statistical thinking as defined by the literature. The findings of this study showed that about half of the Mathematics teachers do not see the connection between the action words in the curriculum, and the aspects of statistical reasoning and statistical thinking to be assessed. The large percentage of teachers uncertain about the proficiency of their learners in statistical reasoning and statistical thinking leads to the conclusion that teachers need to be provided with pre-service or in-service training strengthening their Subject Matter Knowledge and Pedagogical Content Knowledge related to the key intended outcomes of statistics assessment, that is, proficiency in statistical literacy, reasoning and thinking.
Source: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 234 –243 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1222118More Less
In southern Africa, biotechnology is increasingly important with regard to food security and the development of the pharmaceutical industry. Universities are tasked with providing the relevant capacity development through tertiary-level courses to meet these development needs. However, the knowledge and practices of biotechnology may be contentious as in issues related to genetically modified foods and cloning. It is also well known that in culturally diverse educational situations, students may experience epistemological challenges derived from their ontological standpoints, and that these can impact on the learning process. The purpose of this study was thus to investigate student views of biotechnology, a field of science where student ethical, religious and/or cultural beliefs may be at odds with the science that is taught in the classroom. Data was collected over a four-year period (2009-2012),from 115 students from two universities who volunteered to complete a questionnaire. Data was also collected from 70 students who volunteered to be part of focus groups during this time. Phenomenography was used as the research approach in this case study, resulting in an outcome space that produced two broad categories describing students' responses to biotechnology. These were a theoretical and practical perspective, and a worldview perspective. The study found that students need and want to be as globally competitive as their international peers. This requires that the curriculum reflects the standard and practice of the Global North. However, in southern Africa, where the student demography in universities is typically very diverse, the findings also highlight the need for a pedagogical approach that facilitates learning through providing space for students to freely discuss and reflect on their views and concerns related to indigenous knowledge and beliefs.
Source: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 244 –255 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1228823More Less
This paper reports on a study that investigated teacher code switching consistency and precision in multilingual secondary school mathematics classrooms in South Africa. Data was obtained through interviewing and observing five lessons of each of three mathematics teachers purposively selected from three township schools in the Eastern Cape Province. Elements of Gumperz and Mercer's work on lesson categories and Dowling's Domains of Mathematical Practice were used to analyse data. Results showed that code switching frequency in general was inconsistent across different lessons for the same teacher. Code switching frequency by all teachers was, however, consistently highest during questioning and explaining when teaching. All participating teachers used code switching strategies most consistently in the public domain and least consistently in the esoteric domain. Some formal isiXhosa translations of mathematical terms were consistently and precisely used and some were not.Two major forms of code switching emerged, namely borrowing code switching and transparent code switching. Very little transparent code switching, which is critical for supporting students' understanding and thinking in mathematics, was evident in teacher language. Teachers were consistent in the use of borrowed terms. We conclude that consensual understanding of best practices for code switching is required to promote code switching that is precise, consistent, transparent and thus supportive of teaching for conceptual understanding of mathematics in secondary schools.
A truth-based epistemological framework for supporting teachers in integrating indigenous knowledge into science teachingSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 256 –266 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1239963More Less
Integrating indigenous knowledge (IK) into school science teaching is one way of maximising the sociocultural relevance of science education for enhanced learners' performance. The epistemological differences however between the nature of science (NOS) and nature of indigenous knowledge (NOIK) constitute a major challenge for an inclusive IK-science curriculum integration. This article is about the application of a truth-based epistemological framework designed to support teachers to make decisions on how specific pieces of indigenous knowledge (local traditional practices and technologies) may be included in science lessons. First, an attempt was made to develop a truth-based epistemological framework for identifying epistemology (ies) of indigenous knowledge and practices. Second a group of science teachers used the truth-based epistemological framework to examine ways in which somespecified IK practices that comprised a coherent set of knowledge themes on health, agriculture and technology could be integrated into the school science curriculum in a valid and legitimate way. The IK practices used in the study were systematically identified and documented by means of personal observations and interviews of key informants in a rural community in Zimbabwe. The main findings of the study showed that the truth-based epistemological framework was useful in providing an epistemological basis for including some IK practices in science teaching and learning. As a tool for pedagogy the framework enabled the science teachers to reconsider and change their valuing of Indigenous knowledge Systems (IKS), more specifically in ways in which local knowledge can validly be incorporated into school science teaching.
Learners' and educators' perspectives on the value of web design in the South African grade 11 computer applications technology curriculumSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 267 –277 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1236999More Less
Web design was introduced into the Computer Applications Technology (CAT) curriculum in South Africa at Grade 11 level in 2013, and Grade 12 in 2014. This paper reports on a study determining what value learners and educators saw in using web design and Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). The paper comprises studies undertaken by 17 honours students in 2013 and 2014 as part of a research report module, and followed a survey research design in which 18 educators were interviewed and 319 learner questionnaires analysed. It was found that there was some disagreement regarding the level of support offered to educators having to learn HTML and that most learners enjoyed learning web design and were coping with the demands of learning HTML. Educators felt that web design ought to remain part of the CAT curriculum, although time constraints were frequently raised as problematic. The majority of learners, similarly, felt that there was value in including web design within the CAT curriculum. Workshops to support educators and a focus on computational thinking as a way forward are recommended. Furthermore, starting web development in Grade 10 should be considered.
Source: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 278 –288 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1228826More Less
The paper reports on a study aimed at investigating perceived gender differences in performance in science at secondary school level, as well as beliefs on possible underlying causes for these differences. The study is situated within the interpretivist paradigm and uses a typology of factors drawn from the Educational Effectiveness Research model as a conceptual framework. Six purposively selected secondary schools participated in the study. Focus group discussions were conducted with 48 learners and 22 teachers, and a questionnaire was administered to the six principals of the participating schools. The study indicates that learners and teachers have mixed views on which gender performs best in the sciences. All principals perceived boys as performing best. The perceived reasons for gender differences in performance are wide ranging and reflect broadly student and classroom factors. They include learners' self-efficacy including attitudes towards science; gendered thinking and aptitude; diligence and perseverance; home experiences and culture; language proficiency; socio-economic challenges and the use of discussion as a learning strategy. The reasons for gender difference in performance are perceived to impact the achievement of girls more negatively than boys.
Using a cognitive-scientific inflected anthropological approach to researching the teaching and learning of elementary school mathematics : an instance of the use of aggregatesAuthor Zain DavisSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 289 –298 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1224635More Less
Anthropological approaches to studying the contextual specificity of mathematical thought and practice in schools can productively inform descriptions and analyses of mathematical practices within and across different teaching and learning contexts. In this paper I argue for an anthropological methodological orientation that takes into consideration the proposition that human beings possess biologically endowed, human-specific modes of cognition that have structuring effects on pedagogic practices. I illustrate that aspect of my methodological focus by exploring a case of the use of aggregates in a Grade 3 lesson, arguing that the teacher thinks of aggregates in part-whole terms, as fusions, and not in set theoretic terms, colouring her evaluations of learners' productions. I use the analysis as an illustration to nsupport my argument that anthropological descriptions of pedagogic practices that emerge in school lessons are enhanced by incorporating accounts of the more general human-specific cognition.
Student teachers' competence to transfer strategies for developing PCK for electric circuits to another physical sciences topicSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 299 –313 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1237000More Less
The purpose of this study was to investigate the transfer of the competence to transform content knowledge learned in electric circuits to a new topic in either chemistry or physics. The study was located in a physics methodology class with 10 pre-service teachers, who were in their final year of study. They had a 6-week long intervention that was underpinned by making explicit the pedagogical transformation effect derived from the interactive use of five content specific knowledge components: (a) learner prior knowledge; (b) curricular saliency; (c) what is difficult to understand; (d) representation; and (e) conceptual teaching strategies. The research design employed qualitative methods for the collection and analysis of data. Primary data was collected at the end of the intervention using Content Representations (CoRe) in the topic of the intervention and another after a 6 week period in a topic of transfer. The prompts of the CoRe were adapted to reveal the five content-specific knowledge components specifically. Supplementary data, which were written descriptions by pre-service teachers of the strategies they used in engaging with a topic of transfer, were also analysed. Findings detail the successful transfer of the learned competence to transform content knowledge, particularly through formulation of Big Ideas derived from topic classification maps, identification of specific concepts likely to pose learning difficulties for learners and the simultaneous use of multilevel representations, all used collectively and interactively in new physics or chemistry topics. We discuss the implications for the further development of topic-specific PCK across science topics.
Enactivism as a powerful theoretical framework for research and tool to reflect on my own role as a supervisorAuthor Marc SchaferSource: African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 20, pp 314 –324 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18117295.2016.1243938More Less
Enactivism, as an interesting and useful theoretical underpinning is gaining traction in Mathematics Education research. It forms the central theme of this paper whose aim is two-fold: first to describe and engage with how elements of enactivism informed a PhD study, both on a theoretical and analytical level, and second to reflect on the enacted role of the supervisor of this study. Despite the inevitable embodied relationship between the supervisor and the supervised PhD project, it is not often written about. This paper thus attempts to address this. The PhD study in question used constructs of enactivism such as autonomy, sense-making, emergence, embodiment and experience to design a preservice mathematics education programme and then explored the growth of student teachers' mathematical identity and disposition in their development of becoming mathematics teachers. The PhD supervision process was framed by the enactivist notion that learning and the construction of meaning and knowledge is co-created by the lecturer, the student and the particular context. The role of the author of this paper in the study was that of supervisor. The relationship between a supervisor and his/ her student is often complex and multilevelled. This paper argues that this relationship can best be described as one of embodiment and co-emergence. The paper thus starts with the author's own enactivist ontological perspective vis-á-vis this relationship and how elements of enactivism permeated his practice with regard to the PhD he supervised. The study found enactivism to be a powerful theoretical vantage point from which to develop research instruments that enabled deep and meaningful reflection on teacher practice in the mathematics classroom and on supervision.