Abstract:
The poor mathematics achievement of South African learners is a great shock and
reason for concern in our country. The question is asked why the learners achieve so
poorly and whether something can be done to improve learners’ mathematics
achievement. Research has shown that the field of study orientation is a primary
factor for learners’ mathematics achievement. A positive study orientation towards
Mathematics has a great influence on the positive achievement of learners in
Mathematics. The use of metacognition has also been found to improve learners’
mathematics achievement and their ability to solve problems. It has been decided to
find the relationship between learners’ study orientation and metacognition and to
determine what the influence of the relationship is on learner's mathematics
achievement.
Learners’ study orientation is identified as six fields that have an influence on
learner's mathematics achievement. The fields are learners’ study attitude in
Mathematics, Mathematics anxiety, study habits in Mathematics, problem solving
behaviour in Mathematics, study milieu (social, physical well-being and classroom
atmosphere) in Mathematics and information processing in Mathematics.
Metacognition is described as the learners’ thoughts concerning their own thinking
and is divided in two separate components:
• Metacognitive knowledge: it addresses the questions of what you know, how you think, when and where to use certain strategies. Metacognitive knowledge consists of strategic knowledge, knowledge of cognitive tasks and self-knowledge.
• Self-management: self-management is 'metacognition in action' and learners use it to effectively apply the metacognitive knowledge. Self-management consists of prediction, planning, monitoring and evaluation.
The study population comprise of Grade 7-learners in the Potchefstroom district.
The schools that participated in the study serve learners from different socioeconomic
backgrounds (ex-Model C, multicultural, township, farm and learners
living in the township but their school is in an affluent environment. The sample
was chosen from an expedient sample. The study consists of a quantitative research
as well as a qualitative research. The quantitative research was conducted by
making use of the study orientation questionnaire in Mathematics, a metacognitive
questionnaire and a mathematics achievement questionnaire for Grade 7. The
average of the high achievement learners as well the low achievement learners were
determine, intercorrelations between the variables and a regression analysis has been
done to find out which fields is a good predictor for mathematics achievement. The
qualitative research was conducted, using interviews. The Mathematics teachers
(involved in the learner's teaching and learning), high achievement learners and low
achievement learners where interviewed. The interviews were interpreted and
combined with the qualitative research findings.
The study found that both a positive study orientation and use of metacognition in
Mathematics can enhance learners’ mathematics achievement. High achieving
learners are better orientated towards Mathematics and make use of metacognition in
a greater extent than learners that achieve poorly in mathematics. In general
learners have a positive attitude towards Mathematics and their study milieu is
positive. It has been found that learner's orientation toward study habits is weak and
their problem solving behaviour is weak also, especially with solving non routine
problems. Out of the correlations it was found that learners which experience a high
level of mathematics anxiety and a negative study milieu make less use of
metacognition than learners that experience less mathematics anxiety and have a
positive study milieu. There is a relationship between metacognition and study-orientation
and this relationship has an influence on learners’ mathematics
achievement. Recommendations were made concerning metacognition and study
orientation. In order to enhance learners’ mathematics achievement, it is necessary
to improve their use of metacognition and study orientation towards mathematics