Understanding factors that may contribute to changes in mathematics teachers' beliefs about mathematics teaching-learning
Bisschoff, Francois Nicholas
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Considering the results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study of 2011, South African learners have performed poorly in mathematics. From these results we realise that South African learners have a very limited understanding of mathematics. This limited understanding can be accredited to the mathematics teaching-learning that takes place in South African classrooms. South African teachers are the key to success in implementing a curriculum and deciding how mathematics should be taught and learned in the classroom. There seems to be a widening gap between levels of ability in mathematics; it seems that learners are becoming less capable of solving problems in real-life context. In the last decade there has been a shift in the focus of the South African curriculum, starting with a teacher-centred approach, where the teacher was responsible for transferring knowledge to learners; to a learner-centred approach, where the teacher is the facilitator and learners have to take responsibility for their own learning. These shifts in teaching-learning approaches require mathematics teachers to make major changes in their own beliefs about mathematics teaching-learning. Beliefs are difficult to change, because it requires a teacher to move from a familiar way of acting and thinking, to a new, unknown way of acting and thinking. The factors that could lead to changes in mathematics teachers’ beliefs about mathematics teaching-learning were investigated in this study. A qualitative phenomenological approach was used to reach the aim of the study. The paradigm used was a interpretivist approach. Purposeful sampling was used to conduct semi-structured interviews that were tape-recorded and then analysed, using content analysis in order to better understand and describe changes that may have occurred in mathematics teachers’ beliefs about mathematics teaching-learning. The study engaged four mathematics teachers (n=4) with different years of teaching experience. The results describe the different teachers’ experiences and factors that have an influence on their mathematical beliefs about mathematics teaching-learning. The significance of the study lies in the fact that this study makes a contribution to South African and international literature on understanding teachers’ mathematical beliefs and the impact that a mathematics teacher education programme had on teachers’ mathematical beliefs
- Education 
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