Title: In Their Own Words: South African Learners on Mathematical Anxiety and Factors That Inhibit Their Mathematical Resilience
Stream: Learning Experiences, Student Learning & Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Jo Badenhorst, Central University of Technology, South Africa
A country’s prosperity depends on the quality of its education system and its contribution to sustainable development. It is widely recognised that mathematics achievement is one of the foundations of success in any society. For job creation and employment in the labour market, sufficient levels of mathematical and technological expertise are required to sustain economic expansion. This also applies to the South African economy, which is hampered by serious skills shortages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. South Africa’s education system is struggling to produce school leavers of the calibre required in industry, most notably when it comes to mathematics achievement. Therefore, mathematics and science should be the subjects of choice for most learners; however, mathematics is, for various reasons, widely perceived to be a difficult subject. Learners require resilience and encouragement to overcome the difficulties they experience in learning mathematics. To this end, the aim of this study was to find out from Grade 7 mathematics learners what they believed to be the reasons for their mathematical anxiety and how mathematical resilience could be fostered. A qualitative inquiry, rooted in the interpretivist paradigm, was conducted to generate data from participants. Mathematics teachers and Grade 7 learners from three purposefully selected primary schools were interviewed in focus groups to learn more about their experiences and views regarding mathematics as a subject. The findings provided a multi-perspective on the complexity of mathematical resilience, the factors that inhibit mathematical resilience among learners and strategies to overcome the challenges posed by mathematics.
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