UCT Principal Investigator: Dr Duncan Mhakure

Researchers: Dr Sheena Rughubar-Reddy, Mr Jacob Jaftha and Mr Muzi Manzini.

There has been significant concern about the state of South African students’ academic achievements in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) high-stakes examinations, particularly the performance of students whose schools are located in low socio-economic areas. The proposed study addresses ways in which these schools, through continuous professional development (CPD) of mathematics teachers can improve the quality of teaching and learning. Specifically, this study explores how the quantitative and qualitative analyses emanating from students’ learning activities can be used to inform the activities of CPD of the mathematics teachers. Whilst there are several CPD approaches on improving teaching and learning documented in literature, CPD activities that are directed at the student learning level are few. This study is based on the assumption that teachers need just-in-time, and job-embedded new instructional practices that are unique to their classroom contexts. This project has practical implications improving teaching and learning mathematics, as well as addressing methodological and theoretical issues on CPD activities of teachers. Therefore the aims of the study are: to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in schools located in disadvantaged areas; to make significant contributions to current debates of CPD of teachers; to provide sophisticated and rich narratives on how CPD of mathematics can carried out within the contexts of the schools; and to identify ways in which both quantitative and qualitative analyses of the students learning can be used to inform the CPD activities of mathematics teachers. The research methodology employed in this study is design-based research (DBR) in the main, however, there are also elements of lesson study. Data for the study will constitute: observations on classroom practices, analyses of students’ performances in assessments, analyses of CPD activities, and focus group interviews with both teachers and students.