Enhancing Mathematics teachers' Self-Directed Learning through Technology-Supported Cooperative Learning
Sekano, Keabetswe Gordon
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Mathematics achievement is always a topic that draws a lot of attention, especially in South Africa. One way in which to support teachers in successfully implementing the curriculum and improving their teaching practice is to assist them in becoming more self-directed. This study aimed to enhance Mathematics teachers’ self-directed learning (SDL) through Technology-Supported Cooperative Learning (TSCL) as a professional development (PD) strategy. Cooperative learning (CL) is a strategy that has been connected to the promotion of SDL. SDL is defined by Knowles (1975:18) as a “process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and integrating appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.” In order to answer the research question, an investigation into the body of scholarly knowledge was examined. The themes that were explored were: Mathematics education, SDL, CL and teacher PD. A purposive sample was used in the empirical study and the participants were Mathematics teachers who attended PD workshops once a week at the Royal Bafokeng Institute (RBI) premises in the Rustenburg area. Framed within the interpretive paradigm, a qualitative approach was followed. A design-based research approach (DBR) was utilised in this study and the process was iterative in that a number of prototypes of the TSCL PD were developed. The first step was to review the literature, followed by doing a needs analysis of the teachers in order to establish what their needs in terms of PD were and also how their SDL could be enhanced. Following Mathematics teachers’ needs analysis and the review of the literature, a suitable and appropriate intervention, in the form of the PD, was designed, refined, and improved. In the final stage, the TSCL PD was implemented as an opportunity for teachers to take responsibility for their own professional growth (i.e. become more self-directed). Data collection using semi-structured interviews and follow-up interviews were scheduled with all the participants. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed after which they were coded using ATLAS.ti™. Based on the findings of this study, it was evident that teachers need to engage in a PD that is affordable, flexible, intensive and on-going. Findings also indicated that teachers enjoyed the practical PD sessions and found great value in attending these sessions. The results showed that TSCL as a PD strategy fosters lifelong learning, as it provides teachers with an opportunity to improve their teaching methodologies, by working together, exchanging ideas and materials, regardless of their geographic proximity.
- Education 
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