Teachers' use of mathematical terminology in the classroom: A case of four selected Secondary Schools in Mufulira District
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Mathematical terminologies are considered to be an important factor in the teaching and learning of mathematics. This study was an exploratory of teachers’ use of mathematical terminology in four secondary schools in Mufulira district. It was not clear how mathematics teachers used mathematical terminologies in the classroom.The study used both quantitative and qualitative approaches and adopted a dominant less-dominant design in which qualitative approach was dominant. The research instruments included the questionnaire, structured interview guide, classroom observation field notes and focus group interview guide. The secondary schools were selected using simple random sampling technique. Convenience sampling technique was used to select four heads of mathematics department who were interviewed and 26 mathematics teachers who answered the questionnaire. A purposive sampling technique was used to select eight mathematics teachers who were followed-up to the classroom and 96 pupils who participated in Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were selected using stratified sampling technique. Descriptive analyses were used to describe the teachers’ responses regarding their attitude towards the teaching of mathematical terminology and the discourse analysis technique was used to analyse classroom practices and experiences regarding the teachers’ use of mathematical terminology. The findings of the study indicated that to a larger extent, mathematics teachers had a positive attitude towards the teaching of mathematical terminology and they used predominantly oral strategies involving technical and sub-technical terms. The teachers’ predominant use of technical terms interfered with the pupils’ learning of mathematical concepts and their tendencies to substitute mathematical terminology with easier words deprived pupils of the opportunity to use mathematical terminology. The study recommended that teachers should focus on mathematical terminology when teaching mathematics. Heads of mathematics department should regularly conduct continuous professional development (CPD) meetings where strategies for teaching mathematical terminologies could be discussed.